Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins Friday evening, Sept. 15. Traditional meals for the holiday tend to have sweet touches to symbolize the wish for a sweet New Year. In addition to honey and apples, sweet vegetables have a place of honor on the menu.
When I was growing up, my mother made a sweet stew for Rosh Hashanah that included carrots, sweet potatoes and white potatoes, as well as dried fruit. We plan to roast these vegetables along with spiced chicken to make a festive main course for our holiday dinner.
In some households, carrots, beets, winter squashes and chard are among the ritual foods that are blessed and served in a ceremony that begins the Rosh Hashanah dinner. We will serve butternut squash cooked with sugar, cinnamon and cloves as a holiday dessert.
Sephardic-Style Roast Chicken with Sweet Vegetables
In this one-pan dinner, the chicken gains a wonderful aroma from roasting with spices — cumin, turmeric, black pepper and cayenne — blended with olive oil and lemon juice. Roasting the vegetables with the chicken gives them a rich flavor. The recipe is from “52 Shabbats” by Faith Kramer.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 1/2 to 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts, preferably thighs
2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 teaspoons ground black pepper, divided
3 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups sliced carrots (1/2 inch thick)
2 cups baby yellow potato chunks (1/2-inch chunks)
2 cups baby Japanese yam or peeled sweet potato chunks (1/2-inch chunks)
2 cups peeled, seeded butternut squash chunks (1/2-inch chunks)
2 cups red onion or other onion chunks (1/2-inch chunks)
10 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth, more if needed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9-x13-inch or larger baking dish or roasting pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
2. If using chicken breasts, cut any larger pieces in half. In a small bowl mix 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper, the cumin, turmeric, cayenne, lemon juice and remaining olive oil. Transfer 2 tablespoons of this spice paste to a medium bowl. Brush or rub remaining spice paste all over chicken pieces.
3. Place carrots, potatoes, yams, squash, onions and garlic in baking dish.
4. To reserved 2 tablespoon spice paste add the chicken broth and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper; mix well. Pour mixture over vegetables and toss until combined. Spread vegetables in a single layer in baking dish.
5. Loosely cover baking dish with foil; roast vegetables for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and brush or spoon pan juices over vegetables; add more broth by tablespoons if pan seems dry.
6. Place chicken pieces, skin side up, on top of vegetables in a single layer. Spoon some of the pan juices over chicken. Roast uncovered about 50 minutes, basting chicken and vegetables every 15 minutes with pan juices. (Add more broth by tablespoons if needed.)
7. Cut into thickest piece of chicken; it is done when juices run clear. Instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of a chicken piece away from bone should read 160 degrees for white meat or 175 degrees for dark meat; check a few times over 3 minutes.
8. Tent chicken loosely with foil; let rest at least 10 minutes. Serve sprinkled with cilantro.
Honey Miso Brussels Sprouts
These Brussels sprouts, roasted with a honey glaze and garnished with pomegranate arils, are perfect for Rosh Hashanah. The recipe is from the Tara Teaspoon’s book, “Delicious Gatherings: Recipes to Celebrate Together.”
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon white miso (also called shiro miso)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cleaned, large ones halved lengthwise
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons neutral oil such as grape seed, canola or avocado oil
1/2 cup walnut pieces or spiced pecans
1/3 cup pomegranate arils
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. For glaze: In a small saucepan over low heat or in a microwave, heat honey with miso, lemon juice and pepper flakes until just hot. Whisk to combine.
2. For Brussels sprouts: In a large bowl or on a rimmed baking sheet, toss Brussels sprouts with garlic, salt and oil. Spread out on baking sheet.
3. Roast Brussels sprouts until tender and parts are golden brown and charred, 20 to 25 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, drizzle them with glaze and add walnuts. Serve garnished with pomegranate arils.
Cooked Chard with Carrots and Radishes
Both carrots and chard are customary on many Rosh Hashanah tables. Cooking radishes makes them sweeter. For this dish I especially like to use watermelon radishes, which are bright red inside.
Yield: 2 to 4 appetizer or side dish servings
2 watermelon radishes, peeled
4 carrots, peeled
1 bunch chard (3/4 to 1 pound)–yellow-stemmed, red-stemmed or white-stemmed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, or to taste
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Halve radishes and put them cut side down on cutting board. Cut in quarter slices about 1/3 inch thick.
2. Cut carrots in diagonal slices about 1/3 inch thick.
3. Separate chard leaves from stems. Slice stems crosswise about 1/4 to 1/3 inch wide. Chop leaves.
4. In a medium saucepan boil about 2 cups water, or enough to nearly cover radish and carrot slices. Add a pinch of salt. Add radish and carrot slices, cover and boil for 4 minutes.
5. Add sliced chard stems and cook for 2 minutes. Add chopped chard leaves and cook uncovered for 2 or 3 minutes or until all vegetables are tender.
6. If serving soon, transfer vegetables with a slotted spoon to a bowl. If making ahead, transfer vegetables to a strainer, rinse them, drain well and transfer to a bowl.
7. Season vegetables to taste with olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Beet and Lentil Salad with Dried Cherries
This salad makes a good Rosh Hashanah side dish or a meatless main course. I like to make it with both red and yellow beets. For a kosher meal that has meat, omit the cheese or use vegan cheese. The recipe is adapted from “Vegetarian Salad for Dinner” by Jeanne Kelley.
To save time, use packaged steamed beets and steamed lentils. To cook fresh beets and dried lentils, see the note at the end of the recipe.
Yield: 2 main course or 4 appetizer servings
One 9-ounce package steamed lentils or 1/2 cup dried French or black lentils, cooked (see Note)
2 celery ribs, diced
1/2 shallot, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley or 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
2 tablespoons chopped dried sour cherries, dried cranberries or a mixture of both, plus a few whole ones for garnish
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
two 8-ounce packages steamed beets, red or yellow, or one package of each; or 1/2 pound medium beets (about 2), roasted (see Note)
Freshly cracked black pepper
Romaine leaves to line platter
A few red walnuts (optional)
2 to 4 ounces soft fresh goat cheese or feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
1. Combine cooked lentils, celery, shallot, parsley and cherries in a large bowl.
2. For dressing, whisk together the oil, both vinegars, rosemary and salt in a small bowl. Pour dressing over lentil mixture; toss to coat.
3. If beets are whole, halve and slice them; add to lentil mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Just before serving, arrange a bed of romaine leaves on a platter. Spoon beet and lentils salad over center of lettuce. Scatter walnuts and crumble cheese over salad for garnish.
Cook’s Notes: To cook raw beets: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Arrange beets in center of a sheet of foil. Drizzle them with a small amount of oil and enclose in foil. Roast beets until tender, about 1 hour. Cool. Peel and quarter beets. To cook dried lentils: Cook lentils in a saucepan of rapidly boiling salted water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain well; cool completely.
Butternut Squash in Spiced Piloncillo Syrup
For this dairy-free dessert, butternut squash is cooked in a syrup sweetened with piloncillo–Mexican cone sugar, and flavored with canela (Mexican cinnamon) sticks, cloves and ginger. It’s based on a recipe in “¡Viva Desserts!” by Nicole Presley.
One 1 1/4-pound piece butternut squash, preferably “neck” end
2 cups water
An 8-ounce piloncillo cone
2 sticks of canela (Mexican cinnamon) or cassia cinnamon (common American cinnamon)
2 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of fennel seeds
A 3-inch-long strip orange peel, peeled with a vegetable peeler
1. Halve squash piece lengthwise, and cut it in 1 1/2-inch pieces crosswise.
2. Combine the water, piloncillo, cinnamon sticks, cloves, ginger, fennel seeds and orange peel strips in a wide saucepan over low heat, Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar cone dissolves, about 20 minutes.
3. Bring mixture to a boil. Add squash pieces skin side down. Cover and cook over low heat until squash is fork tender, about 40 minutes.
4. Remove squash pieces. Cut each piece in two slices so they will be thinner.
5. Simmer syrup uncovered 5 minutes to reduce it slightly until well flavored. Return squash to syrup. (You can leave the spices in the syrup.)
6. Serve squash warm, in the syrup.
Faye Levy is the author of “1,000 Jewish Recipes.”