Just as the evening temps begin to cool and farmers’ markets are bursting with bright mounds of apples and pears, Jewish cooks shift their focus to preparing meals for Rosh HaShanah, the New Year celebrations. This year, the holiday begins at sunset on October 2 and ends on the eve of October 4.
There are plenty of symbolic ingredients associated with the holiday, making menu planning a fun and meaningful challenge. Seasonal ingredients (apples, pears, squashes, potatoes, zucchini) reign supreme. Flavors traditionally lean towards sweet, referencing hopes for a joyful and healthy year ahead. Symbols of plenty, like lentils, beans and pomegranates, are also included and refer to fertility and wishes for an abundance of all positive things.
Here are some recipe suggestions to get you in gear for Jewish holiday cooking.
Westporter, Melissa Roberts recently shared her classic recipe for Red Wine and Tomato Brisket and it’s become a family favorite. Unexpected allspice and cinnamon, plenty of garlic and onions, plus a generous pour of your favorite pinot noir creates an outstandingly rich sauce. It’s perfect over your favorite grain or a simple potato kugel (pudding).
For the vegetarians or as a great side we suggest this Eggplant and Leek Wonder from Stamford food writer, Ronnie Fein. This savory dish is like a last hoorah for end of season tomatoes, eggplant and leeks. It’s drool worthy whether served warm or room temp and is best when made 2-3 days in advance.
Do the same with your brisket and you’ve just checked a couple of big things off your to-do list.
Kale is abundant in the markets now and a good dose of healthy greens will be a welcome addition to your sumptuous spread. We love Westport food writer, Tami Weiser’s Kale Salad with Fresh Figs, Carrots and Fennel. The honey dressing is on theme, and cumin and cardamom add flavor boosts to the sweet ingredients. Have vegans at your table? Switch out the honey for maple syrup.
It’s no surprise that desserts baked with apples are often associated with the holiday since autumn is prime harvest season. We’re hooked on this easy to make French Apple Tart with a vegan, dairy-free crust. Combining apple varieties contributes more nuanced flavor and better texture so head out to your favorite CT orchard and pick a few different ones. Keep this dairy free dough recipe on hand for other uses, too.
And for the most traditional cake of all...Raise your hand if you hanker for honey cake! No? Why
Because your Bubbe’s honey cake was likely bone dry and nobody really loved it except for your Gramps and only then, when dunked into his morning coffee.
Instead, try this Drunken Honey Pomegranate Cake, moistened with plenty of whiskey and pomegranate juice. We love local honey like Red Bee and Marina will be happy to advise you on which one to chose for your recipes.You’ll definitely gain some new honey cake fans at your table.
What do you serve at your holiday table? Do you use seasonal and symbolic ingredients in your dishes? We want to know!
Wishing you all a sweet and healthy new year!
For more Rosh HaShanah recipes and other seasonal inspiration check out www.kosherlikeme.com.
Liz Rueven, founder and editor of Kosher Like Me, is a Westport food blogger. She shares seasonal snippets, Jewish holiday inspiration, drool-worthy recipes, stories about products she loves and cookbooks that keep her returning to her kitchen.