We’ve got something for everyone at your Rosh Hashanah table.
Throughout Jewish history, food has been our tangible symbol for hopes and desires. The symbolic dipping of challah and apple slices into honey (and eating sweet tzimmes and honey cake) on Rosh Hashanah, for example, translates into sweetness and bounty.
Heads of fish are thought to symbolize the head of the year and our futures as “tops.” Pomegranates, with their abundant seeds — as well as many other types of seeds — symbolize mitzvot (may you have as many as there are seeds).
Other foods are served because of their names in languages like Hebrew and Aramaic. Carrots mean “more.” Leeks, beets and dates translate into “cut off, remove and consume,” respectively, as if from one’s enemies.
The following recipes use these ingredients to make the traditional Rosh Hashanah foods. But here — they’re leaner, healthier, with gluten-free and vegan choices. Serve them along with the foods you normally make, or try them as something new that’s symbolic.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH MAC & CHEESE
2 tsp. sea salt, plus more for the pasta cooking water
1 pound uncooked elbow macaroni (or another pasta shape)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
4 Tbsp. flour
1 cup cooked butternut squash, mashed or pureed
3 cups almond or soy milk (unflavored)
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 cups shredded vegan cheese
Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush a 2-quart baking dish with olive oil. Set aside.
Make the sauce: Whisk together the oil and flour in a large saucepan over medium heat for 1 minute. Stir in the mashed butternut squash, almond or soy milk and mustard and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
For the pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Cook according to package directions to al dente. Drain well (reserve a little of the hot pasta water). Stir the pasta into the sauce. Add the vegan cheese and stir well. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer to the prepared baking dish and bake for 20-30 minutes until hot. Makes 8 servings.
To make this dish sweet, toss with ½ cup brown sugar before cooking; after cooking, add 1 cup dried fruit, such as cherries or golden raisins.
1 pound parsnips peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pound peeled baby carrots
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pound fresh golden beets, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (if unavailable, use red beets)
¼ cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.
Toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Spread vegetables in one layer in the prepared baking sheet (if using red beets, keep separate from other vegetables on the baking sheet — they will color the other vegetables, if using) and roast for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Combine the vegetables and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm until ready to serve. Makes 8 servings.
DIJON CHICKEN WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS
3 pounds small boneless and skinless chicken thighs or breasts*
1 cup chicken broth or stock
¼ cup grained Dijon mustard
¹/3 cup real maple syrup
3 Tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup pomegranate seeds (arils)
Fresh chopped parsley, garnish
*Note: If the breasts are large, cut them into smaller pieces and pound between plastic wrap. Method: Using a sharp knife to cut the breasts in half — make a horizontal cut from one side (the thick side) completely through to the other. Wet chicken with water and place one piece between two sheets of plastic wrap. Use a meat mallet (or something heavy, like a rolling pin) and, starting with the thickest part of the chicken, pound on the chicken gently, until the pieces are of even thickness.
Season the thighs or breasts with salt and pepper and transfer to a large zipper-style plastic storage bag.
Combine the broth, mustard, maple syrup, rosemary and olive oil in a bowl and whisk well. Pour this over the chicken. Seal the bag and turn the chicken several times to coat. Chill and marinate for 2-8 hours.
To cook: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or foil and brush with olive oil.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and arrange on the baking sheet (discard any unused marinade). Cook the chicken for about 20 minutes until just cooked through. Serve with any pan juices drizzled over and pomegranate arils and chopped parsley sprinkled over. Makes 8 servings.
FLOURLESS ALMONDAND HONEY CAKE
1¾ cups ground almonds
4 large eggs, room temperature, separated
½ cup honey
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. melted honey
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment. Set aside.
Combine egg yolks, ½ cup honey, vanilla, baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk until uniform. Set aside.
Whip egg whites with an electric mixer (with a whisk attachment if possible) on medium speed until thick, but not stiff (soft peaks). Add the nut mixture and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold the nut mixture into the egg whites until just combined. Transfer batter into the prepared pan.
Bake the cake until golden and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, approximately 30 minutes. Cool completely. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and remove the springform ring.
Remove the cake from the pan bottom by placing the cake, upside down, on a serving dish and gently lifting off the pan bottom. Peel away the parchment; the bottom of the cake is the new top.
Drizzle the top of the cake with honey and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Makes 12 or more servings.