This Hanukkah, let’s put aside latkes and make tortitas de acelga, otherwise known as Swiss chard patties, a beloved fried dish from Southern Spain. When I was young, I used to help my grandmother by preparing the holiday menu for Hanukkah. Latkes have never been a part of our culinary customs, but there was always some tortitas de acelga on the table.
Ever since 14th century Jews settled on the Strait of Gibraltar, there’s been an important Jewish community nestled on the Rock, including my own grandmother. There, Swiss chard patties are the perfect Hanukkah and Shabbat delight, as they don’t require any warming or cooling.
The dish serves as a visual symbol of the beautiful, sun-dappled coast of Spain, with the yellow tortitas symbolizing the spark of the candle, or the shamash, which is used to light the Hanukah candles.
Easy, cheap and delicious, the Swiss chard patties only use seasonal vegetables and the green part of the Swiss chard (allowing you to use the white part for another dish). These tortitas de acelga are high protein, gluten free, vegetarian and dairy free — evidence that the Sephardic Jewish diet has always been ahead of its time.
Yield: about 25 patties
Time: 40 minutes
1 bunch of Swiss chard
1 garlic clove
1 tsp of baking soda
1 string’s worth of saffron
2 ¾ cups (250g) of chickpeas flour
10,7 oz (300g) of water
1.Wash the chards and cut the leaves.
2.Boil salted water and immerse the leaves for 4 minutes.
3.Drain and squeeze them to bring out all the water.
4.Let it cool, and then cut the leaves with a knife.
5.In a salad bowl, add the chopped garlic, yeast, egg, saffron and salt. Beat the mixture.
6.Add the chard leaves and then the water and finally the chickpea flour, little by little. The preparation must be a little fluid.
7.Take an heavy pan and heat the neutral oil about 350-360F.
8.Fry the oil in an heavy pan 2 minutes on each side.