Streams

Rosh Hashanah: Land of Apples and Honey

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, arrived on Wednesday at sundown, beginning a ten-day period of contemplation and repentance which concludes on Yom Kippur. However, Rosh Hashanah is also a celebration of creation, new beginnings, and the promise of a good new year—all conveniently represented by food.

My observance of Rosh Hashanah has lapsed over the years. I don’t take time off of work, and I don’t prepare or attend an elaborate holiday dinner. I may skip synagogue, but I never skip a celebratory snack of apples and honey, a sweet combination for a sweet new year. Sometimes I’ll really make an effort and buy a round challah, its shape symbolizing the yearly cycle. Dipping buttered pieces of challah into honey, I’ll do my best not to finish this symbol of an entire year in one sitting.

Growing up, my family celebrated Rosh Hashanah with a vegetarian feast inspired not only by our Ashkenazi, Eastern-European roots but also by Sephardic customs and seasonal fruits and vegetables. Brisket and stuffed cabbage did not appear on our menu.

Instead, we began our meal with a vegetarian version of my great-grandmother’s tzimmes. The phrase “make a tzimmes” can refer to making a fuss over something, perhaps the dish itself, a mish mash of slow-cooked carrots sweetened with prunes, apricots, honey, and cinnamon. My Lithuanian-born great-grandmother also included beef and kreplach, or dumplings.

Foods containing an abundance of seeds represent fertility and new life on Rosh Hashanah, and it’s traditional to snack on pomegranate seeds. My family would also enjoy a tagine, a Moroccan casserole of couscous and sweet or seedy vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, and zucchini, flavored with cinnamon, saffron, honey, and raisins. Food writer Mark Bittman includes ginger, cumin and garlic in his tagine, making it sweet but not cloying.

We finished our Rosh Hashanah dinner with a plum tart. Plums are starting to come into season in September, and on Rosh Hashanah, new fruits represent a new year, potentially filled with many more delicious, seasonal meals.

Check out Lisa Goldstein's favorite recipes below, and let us know your favorite Rosh Hashanah recipes by posting them in a comment below!

Oli Scarff/Getty
Foods containing an abundance of seeds represent fertility and new life on Rosh Hashanah, and it’s traditional to snack on pomegranate seeds.
Mario Tama/Getty
The shape of a round challah symbolizes the yearly cycle. Try dipping buttered pieces of challah into honey.
KNOBBYKNEEz (cc: by-nc-nd)/flickr
Plums start to come into season in September, and on Rosh Hashanah, new fruits represent a new year, potentially filled with many more delicious, seasonal meals.
Bonnie (cc: by-nc)/flickr
Apples and honey are a sweet combination for a sweet new year.

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Comments [1]

Apple Walnut Wheat Berry Salad with Maple Vinaigrette

Traditionally on Rosh Hoshanah you eat sweet foods for a sweet new year, so this modern recipe fits with the theme. The key to this salad, adapted from "How to Cook Everything," is adding plenty of lemon juice so that it isn't cloying. If possible, make a day before serving--the flavors develop and intensify in the fridge overnight.

For the vinaigrette:
1/4 cup olive oil
1.5 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon, or more to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For the salad:
3 cups wheat berries
1 medium-large apple, cored and chopped
3/4 c. chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 c. raisins (optional)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
Zest of 1 lemon

1. Whisk together or emulsify with a hand blender all of the ingredients for the dressing.

2. Put the wheat berries, apples, raisins, walnuts in a large bowl. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and sprinkle with the spices, zest and salt and pepper. Combine, tossing gently to separate the grains.

3. Taste and adjust seasoning or add more dressing. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate and bring back to room temperature before serving.

Sep. 08 2010 01:15 PM

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