We all love latkes, but the sides are the real stars of the season

Latkes are always the centerpiece of every American Chanukah event. But what about the sides? These are the true stars that make the meal really shine each year.

Given the starchy richness of hot fried potatoes, contrasts seem to liven and highlight the meal. I like to pair latkes with a crunchy, spicy salsa and perhaps tangy acidic chutney. A clean and refreshing Asian Salmon Tartar also provides contrast and balance to the latkes.

As for vegetables, I love the traditional winter vegetables, despite their bad reputation. Red cabbage benefits from tart apples and earthy spices.

Cranberry Orange Chutney | Makes about 3 cups

1 1/2 cup cranberries
1/2 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cup orange marmalade
1 small cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves

Place the cranberries, orange juice, marmalade, cinnamon stick and cloves in a heavy sauce pan. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for several minutes, until the cranberries pop and the sauce thickens.

Cool thoroughly, remove the cinnamon stick and cloves and serve with latkes.

Avocado and Pineapple Salsa | Makes about 3 cups

zest of 1 lime
zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cup finely chopped pineapple
1 large, ripe avocado, cut into small dice
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 small jalapeño, finely chopped
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt

Mix together all ingredients. Allow to sit for 20 minutes before serving.

Asian Salmon Tartar | Serves 6

2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. wasabi powder
6 oz. smoked salmon, chopped
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds
1 Tbs. freshly grated ginger
1 Tbs. Asian sesame oil
1 tsp. soy sauce

Mix together the lemon juice and wasabi in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and combine well. Serve the tartar on rice or sesame crackers.

Warm Cabbage and Apple Salad | Serves 8

4 Tbs. unsalted butter
4 cup shredded green apples, (peeled or not)
1/2 small red onion, shredded
8 cup shredded red cabbage
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. fine sea salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. freshly ground allspice
1/2 tsp. freshly ground cloves
1/2 cup red wine

Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the apples and the onions and sauté until they become soft, about 8 minutes. Add the cabbage and cook until the cabbage starts to wilt. Add the sugar, vinegar, sea salt and spices.

Cover and cook over low heat until the cabbage begins to soften, about 10 minutes. Uncover and add the red wine. Simmer for a few minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate. Serve warm.

Rebecca Ets-Hokin is a Bay Area cooking teacher and food professional. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected].