Carrot tzimmes, a sweet fruit and vegetable stew, is a dish Carol Ungar’s mother always made for Rosh Hashana.
The golden carrot coins signaled prosperity, recalls the cookbook author; what more appropriate dish to mark the Jewish new year, the two-day holiday.
Rosh Hashana foods are traditionally as rich in symbolism as they are in flavor. Apples dipped in honey may be the most familiar dish of the holiday, but don’t forget the role vegetables play on the table.
“The whole thing about Rosh Hashana is sweetness: Honey, fruits, root vegetables, for a sweet new year,” Marlena Spieler, an American-born food writer and cookbook author, wrote in an email from her home outside London.
Roasted carrots are a constant, but she also cited a North African seven-vegetable couscous that some communities make for the holiday.
Yet, in other families, veggies sometimes get shortchanged. “Eastern European Jewish cooking isn’t really vegetable centric, and that definitely extends to holiday cooking,” Leah Koenig, the Brooklyn, New York-based author of Modern Jewish Cooking, wrote in an email.
“I personally like vegetables,” said Ungar, a former New Yorker who now lives in Kiryat Yearim, a suburb of Jerusalem. “Traditional Jewish cuisine was very oriented to vegetables.”
Ungar is author of the new book Jewish Soul Food: Traditional Fare and What It Means (Brandeis University Press, $27.95). The dishes of Rosh Hashana are what led to her exploration of food symbolism in Judaism. These foods evoke prosperity, sweetness and fertility, she said.
Another tradition of Rosh Hashana is to enjoy the first fruits and vegetables of the season, said Amelia Saltsman, the Santa Monica, California-based author of The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen: A Fresh Take on Tradition (Sterling Epicure, $29.95).
The book lists winter squash, winter greens and root vegetables among the stars of Rosh Hashana menus. But her book also lists “anti-good luck foods.”
“Some people avoid sour foods or black ones (olives, raisins, eggplant, coffee, chocolate), the color of mourning,” Saltsman wrote. “I leave it to you to decide how much ‘insurance’ you need.”
Apple and Parsnip Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large shallots, peeled and sliced
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces, plus more for garnish if desired
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
5 cups chicken flavored broth
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté two minutes. Add parsnips and sauté three minutes more. Add apples and stir one minute. Add curry powder, coriander and garlic powder, stir to coat. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Let cool.
Either with an immersion blender or working in batches, puree soup in blender or food processor until smooth, thinning with more broth if desired. Return soup to clean pot and bring to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To serve, divide between bowls and garnish with olive oil and sliced apple if desired. Serves six.
Source: Jamie Geller, joyofkosher.com in collaboration with Winn-Dixie.
SWEET PICKLED DAIKON
1/2 large daikon radish, peeled, cut into quarters or halves lengthwise then sliced thinly
1 hot red chile, seeded, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon salt
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
Combine the daikon with the chile and salt. Leave in a bowl for about half an hour. Add the sugar, rice vinegar and turmeric. Mix well. (If the daikon is not completely submerged, add up to 1/3 cup water.) Transfer to a washed jar, mixing/turning up and down for a day or two. Place in the refrigerator, where you can keep it for up to two weeks, digging into it as desired. Makes 1 quart.
Source: Marlena Spieler.
GREEN, GREEN ROSH HASHANA LATKES
5 large Swiss chard or beet green leaves, shredded (about 2 cups)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup matzo meal
1 small onion, finely diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Vegetable oil for frying
In a food processor using the blade attachment, process all ingredients except frying oil quickly until a paste forms. (There should still be identifiable vegetable pieces.) Do only a few pulses; you don’t want to create a true puree.
Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. With wet hands, form chard mixture into thin patties the size of your palm and fry patties, in batches, until golden brown on each side, about two minutes per side. Serve immediately. Makes about 30 patties.
Per patty: 22 calories, 1 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 12 mg cholesterol, 2 g carbohydrates, 1 g protein, 42 mg sodium, 0 g fiber.
Source: Carol Ungar.
ROASTED CARROT AND SWEET POTATO TZIMMES
6 to 8 oranges
2 pounds carrots, peeled
3 pounds sweet potatoes
1 pound shallots (about 8 large)
1/2 to 3/4 pound dried plums or pitted prunes (vary the amount depending on how sweet and fruity you want the dish)
3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground white or black pepper
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the zest in large strips from two of the oranges and the lemon. Be sure to press down only hard enough to capture the colored part of the skin, not the bitter white pith. Juice enough of the oranges to yield 2 1/2 cups juice. Reserve the lemon for another use.
Cut the carrots crosswise into 2-inch chunks or lengthwise into 2-inch chunks. (If carrots are very fat, first halve them lengthwise.) Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into large bite-size chunks. Peel and quarter the shallots lengthwise. Use kitchen scissors to snip the prunes.
Place carrots, sweet potatoes, shallots, prunes and lemon and orange zests in a roasting pan large enough to hold all of the vegetables in more or less a single layer. Toss with enough olive oil to coat evenly, season with salt and pepper, and pour the juice over all. Roast, turning the vegetables once or twice during cooking, until tender and browned in places and most of the juice is absorbed, about 1 1/4 hours. For a saucier finished dish, add another 1/2 to 1 cup juice during the last 20 minutes of cooking. The juice should thicken slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes about 10 servings.
Per serving: 257 calories, 4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 52 g carbohydrates, 5 g protein, 155 mg sodium, 8 g fiber.
Source: Amelia Saltsman.