I’m sorry it’s been so long, I’ve been busy with several other projects. I know you’re looking for unique recipes to serve on Rosh Hashana, so I’ll be brief (or you can simply scroll down to the recipes):
There’s one new project in particular I hope you’ll like (and follow) as much as I do: BreslovWoman.org (and corresponding Twitter and Facebook page.) It is very different from the writing I’ve been doing: Simpler, Lighter, Upbeat. After all, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov tells us, in one of my favorite of the Rebbe’s tales, that simplicity is key—and that sophistication is great foolishness. It’s a lesson I constantly am learning.
You may also want to check out the newer, more accessible, Breslov Repair Kit.
Eating on Yom Tov
The Rebbe tells us that eating on Shabbos (and Yom Tov) is as spiritually elevating as fasting on other days. The physical delight we experience from eating on these special times is not merely physical—Shabbos food has a special quality that is beyond “taste.”
The Rebbe also reminds us of the importance of beginnings, explaining the kabbalistic concept “The end is wedged into the beginning.” Which is why we might want to try to start each day, each week, and each event of our lives with a positive outlook.
It is essential to start the New Year with said positive outlook—and to be sure to serve good things to eat, too.
Seasons and Traditions
This year Rosh Hashana is less autumnal than usual—it begins at Sundown on September 4th—and the menu choices here reflect that. On the east coast we’re used to serving early winter squash dishes, root vegetables, roasts, and other heavier fare. These recipes, below, are instead based on local produce from the end-of-summer harvest.
Also, because it may be in the 80s, you can serve some these dishes hot, warm or room temperature—your choice.
The Chassidic tradition includes avoiding sour foods like pickles and vinegar on Rosh Hashana itself. Our custom is to eat lemon, however. Some people avoid vinegar and lemon until after Sukkos. The reason is that we want to usher in the new year with sweetness, and nothing bitter or sour.
We also don’t eat nuts (some avoid only walnuts) on Rosh Hashana, because the Hebrew word for nut, “egoz”, has the same numerical value of “sin” and we want to start the new year without transgressions. (For Sukkos, I plan to post, I’yH, an amazing dessert, carambola, guava, mango, or papaya in season now from Florida, which top parve citrus Oasis Cheesecake—hold the fake ingredients.)
We also serve several simanim, symbolic foods. In the link I give, they’re incorporated into some interesting recipes; we serve them alone, unadorned.
Rosh Hashana Menu
For starters, there’s the classic oven-poached salmon with Middle-eastern “dal” served on a bed of fresh greens. If you are vegetarian, omit the salmon and garnish the dal with sautéed bell peppers.
Next is a small bowl, or cup, really, of a rich roasted eggplant soup with mint, based on an old family recipe (minus the heavy cream).
Following this is a composed beef salad with pomegranate-mint dressing. It contains crisp blanched and raw vegetables with the main ingredient, beef, served either hot or cold. It is dressed with pomegranate, (in keeping with the Yom Tov theme). Roasted lamb would work even better than the beef, but I’m having a hard time finding good kosher lamb right now. If you are vegetarian, you can easily omit the beef and serve as is.
On the side is a quinoa tabbouleh, but you could add a plain quinoa, potato or rice dish instead.
For dessert, there is orchard compote. Yesterday, I bought some amazing plums, peaches, and apricots and plan to make this light compote with a touch of freshly ground cinnamon. You can buy less-than-ripe fruit now if you need to, and let it ripen in brown paper bags in a bowl at room temperature. Ripe fruit is key.
I love mint, so three of these recipes contain it. But the tastes quite different in each one. You can substitute other flavors (see ingredient lists) though, if you prefer.
HJC’s Oven-poached Salmon with Coconut Dal
Fish or Vegan, Parve
8 small salmon steaks (you can use filets)
1 cup white wine or water
16 oz. red lentils, sorted and rinsed well
4 cups water
1 cup coconut milk(canned is okay, try to get a brand without chemicals or other additives)
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
1 large onion, peeled, cut in half, and sliced very thinly
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon each: ground fenugreek and turmeric
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Juice of one lemon or lime
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (stems and leaves)
Preheat oven to 350.
Line baking pan with parchment, and place salmon on top. Sprinkle salmon with wine or water and cover with another layer of parchment paper, larger than the one on the bottom. Fold overhang under bottom piece so an envelope is formed. Cover pan (cover with foil if pan doesn’t have a cover). Bake for 25 minutes. Remove and check for doneness. If you prefer it cooked more, cover and leave in pan for additional ten minutes. Place in refrigerator if not serving right away.
Alternatively, you can bake the salmon, uncovered. Just rub lightly with extra virgin olive oil, first.
Meanwhile, simmer lentils until nearly dissolved, approximate 35 minutes. Add coconut milk over low heat, stir. Lentils should be a thin, slightly textured puree. Meanwhile, sauté onions in oil over medium-low heat until well browned. Remove and set aside. Add garlic, fenugreek and turmeric sauté until fragrant, approximately 2 minutes, and pour into lentils. Add cayenne, stir in lemon or lime juice, season with salt and pepper to taste.
To serve: Place a large spoon of dal on plate, top with salmon and sprinkle on chopped cilantro and crispy onions. Serve hot or warm (salmon can be room temperature, but not cold right from the fridge).
You can instead just serve the warm dal as a side dish with the salad, below for a vegan meal.
HJC’s Roasted Eggplant Soup with Mint
2 firm large-ish eggplants (do not peel)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil minus one tablespoon
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and diced
4 large garlic cloves, pressed or minced
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth, or water (or more to taste)
Juice of two thin-skinned lemons
1-2 teaspoons dried mint (you can omit this and add oregano, a member of the mint family, if you prefer)
1 teaspoon (or more) ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon roughly chopped parsley (leaves only)
Sumac and lemon slices for serving
Preheat oven to 475. Poke eggplants several times with fork, wrap well in foil, and place in roasting pan. Roast until soft when squeezed, about 35 minutes. Let cool. Cut in half and scrape pulp into blender. Discard stem and skin.
Meanwhile, sauté onions over low heat in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil until translucent and lightly colored—do not brown. Stir in garlic, and sauté in fragrant, do not brown. Add to eggplant in blender along with remaining olive oil, 4 cups (or more) broth or water, lemon juice, and herbs and spices except for sumac. Pour into container, and thin with water to desired thickness. Serve hot or store in refrigerator and remove twenty minutes before serving and serve lightly chilled. Ladle into small soup bowls, and sprinkle with ground sumac and add lemon slice on top if you like a tart flavor.
Composed Beef Salad with Pomegranate-Mint Dressing
Meat or Vegan, Meat or Parve
Two 2 pound London Broils, approximately 1 1/2 inch thick
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons (approximately) freshly ground black pepper
Marinate the beef in the orange juice, garlic, and pepper for 4 hours or overnight.
Remove from marinade, and broil for approximately ten minutes on each side in pre-heated broiler for medium-medium rare, or until preferred doneness. Let rest for ten minutes, and slice thinly across the grain.
10 red radishes, washed and trimmed, but left whole
1 pound insect-free frozen broccoli florets (unfortunately, the fresh ones are loaded with worms and thrips)
1 pound insect-free frozen cauliflower florets 1 1/2 pounds assorted baby squash, or yellow summer squash, sliced
2-3 ears of corn or 12 oz. frozen corn
2 large heads of romaine lettuce, washed and checked for insects, dried, and torn into large pieces
2 large radicchios, washed and checked for insects, dried, and sliced
10 scallions, washed and checked for insects, and sliced diagonally into 2 inch pieces
2-3 ripe avocadoes, peeled and sliced
In a large pot, bring 1 quart of water to a boil. Boil radishes for 60 seconds, remove and plunge into cold water. Drain and refrigerate, covered.
Cook the broccoli and cauliflower separately, according to package directions. Remove, plunge into cold water, drain and refrigerate, covered.
Scrape kernels off corn, rinse and refrigerate (they don’t need to be cooked) or slightly undercook frozen corn according to package directions.
1 cup pumpkin seeds, soaked overnight in plenty of water, strained, and dried well on a clean dish towel. Dehydrate in dehydrator for 12 hours or until crisp or in oven at lowest setting for at least 12 hours. Alternately, you can use toasted pumpkin seeds but they have a stronger flavor.
Arils from one pomegranate (you can buy the seeds already removed if you choose)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3-4 medjool dates, pitted and checked for insects (I found several worms last time!)
8 large mint leaves or two teaspoons dried mint (fresh tastes completely different than dry in this recipe) (or you can omit or substitute a 1/4 cup of fresh parsley if you prefer)
Juice from 1 lemon (approximately 2 tablespoons, or to taste)
½ cup pomegranate juice
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
In food processor or with mortar and pestle, finely chop garlic, dates, and mint leaves. Add lemon juice and mix briefly. Add pomegranate juice. With machine going (or pestle moving) drizzle in olive oil until emulsification is achieved. Add salt to taste (optional).
Toss corn, lettuce, radicchio, scallion, and avocado lightly with most of the dressing and place on individual plates. Arrange hot, warm, or slightly chilled beef on lettuce, add radishes, broccoli and cauliflower and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and pomegranate arils. Drizzle any remaining dressing over the top.
Serves 8 as main course, 12 as salad course
HJC’s Quinoa Tabbouleh
3 cups white quinoa, prepared according to package directions
1 bunch mint, cleaned, checked (you can substitute one bunch of dill for a completely different taste, but one that is just as delicious)
2 bunches parsley, cleaned and checked
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with back of knife(optional)
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt, pepper to taste
4 scallions, cleaned, checked and minced
2 persian cucumbers, washed and very finely diced
2 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and very finely diced
Pulse garlic, mint, parsley, in food processor until practically pureed. Add lemon juice, pulse until lightly mixed. Drizzle in olive oil. Add seasoning. Pour over slightly warm (but not hot) quinoa, and stir well. Add cucumbers and scallions, and stir lightly to mix. Top with diced tomato. Serve room temperature or chilled. Keeps up to 3 days in refrigerator, but better within 24 hours.
1 pound ripe plums, any variety or mixed
1 pound Hungarian/Italian plums, ripe
2 pounds peaches, ripe
1 pound apricots, ripe
Honey, Sucanat or Sugar
1 inch piece of cinnamon stick
Wash fruit well, pit (reserve apricot and Hungarian/Italian pits, rinse first) and check for worms. Slice all fruit into large, bite-sized pieces or slices.
Place in large non-reactive pot, adding water to just cover.
Tie up apricot and Hungarian/Italian plum pits in cheesecloth and place in pot.
Bring to boil over low heat and simmer until plums are very soft and start to break up. (Peaches and apricots will still be firm).
Add water to desired thinness and add sweetener if necessary, stirring well until dissolved. If you use very ripe fruit, you will not need it.
Cool, and pour into BPA free pint or quart-sized containers. Freezes very well and keeps up to 6 weeks in plastic containers, 2 months in glass jars. Just defrost a few hours in fridge or even on counter before serving.
Grind cinnamon stick in very clean coffee grinder or with mortar and pestle until finely ground. Keep in refrigerator, very tightly covered for up to 5 days. Sprinkle on each serving. You can also substitute 3 cloves for cinnamon or do a combination. Freshly ground spices. This makes an incredible difference from the stale spices we have in our pantry. Serve chilled or room temperature.
24 servings. Makes 4 quarts or more.