Restrictions have nothing on her.

Happy Rosh Hashanah!

Posted: September 19th, 2009 | Author: rita | Filed under: Rita | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments »

Today is Saturday, September 19th; it is also the first day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and the beginning of the Jewish holiday season. It’s kind of a big deal. It’s impossible to decouple food from Jewish festivity, from the High Holidays down to Tu B’shvat, a kind of Semitic Arbor Day. You may have heard of the Passover seder but in truth every holiday has its own “seder”, ie, major meal where symbolic foods are explained (and explained, and explained) and then consumed.

Rosh Hashanah, literally “the head of the year” actually does entail eating or at least displaying on the dinner table, a fish head or cow’s tongue (or lamb’s head, but I’ve never, ever seen that), so that the coming hear will bring the “head” or best of things rather than the “rear” or as I will put it less delicately, the crap. Another major component of Rosh Hashanah is apples dipped in honey, so that the new year will be sweet. Most children will sing a little ditty that is just the phrase, “Apples dipped in HO-ney for ROSH Ha-SHA-a-NAHHH!”

There is much, much more that could be mentioned but I’d like to discuss pomegranates. By now everyone’s heard that they’re the greatest superfood this side of acai berries, filled with anti-oxidants and other things that will help keep us young and healthy. I’m not sure how much they were on everyone’s radar before, but I’ve been eating pomegranates for years because it’s a very good and important deed, a mitzvah, to eat pomegranates on Rosh Hashanah. The reasoning behind this is that the Torah has 613 mitzvahs that Jews are commanded to do, and the pomegranate has numerous seeds. To eat one is symbolic of doing all these good deeds in the coming year.

Right now I am home in sunny, mosquito-ridden Florida for the holiday. While my mom is an excellent cook, I thought it would be nice if I made a dish for the holiday meal and give her a chance to worry about one less thing to make. Since it’s a holiday we will definitely be eating meat which means no dairy will be present at all, since we all keep kosher too. A dairy restriction dashed my hopes of a pomegranate-flavored souffle. (Never heard of it before but hey, why not, I’d eat that!)

Curiously enough, there don’t seem to be many pomegranate-based recipes out there, despite all the hype. POM’s website, however, has tons of options. Most of them call for using its products, surprise, but a couple of recipes caught my eye: Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato and Pomegranate Soup and Chocolate Covered Arils. What I like about the soup is that it’s adaptable to the kosher constraint, since I could either cut the milk and cream or substitute veggie stock rather than chicken stock if making it for a dairy-laden meal. It also utilizes butternut squash, another traditional harvest-time vegetable, as Rosh Hashana requires that you serve a type of gourd at the big holiday dinner. (Usually we do pumpkin in filo dough appetizers to fill that requirement — mmm pumpkin.) Also, it can be made in large quantities in advance! Chocolate covered arils (pomegranate seeds) is easy enough to make, and sweet chocolate together with tart pomegranate is a formidable and delicious match!

Unfortunately, dashing these plans is the fact that my mom already made matzoh ball soup, upon request by some guests coming over for dinner — she makes awesome matzoh balls. So there goes that. And she’s trying to be healthier, so she nixed the clusters of chocolate covered pomegranate seeds. But how can someone say no to such a thing??

Instead we will be eating the usual, traditional holiday meal, already basically complete by the time I arrived home. Oh well. So I leave you, dear readers, with my fantasy holiday meal, one that I will hopefully be able to prepare part of if not next year, then soon:

Appetizer
- Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato and Pomegranate Soup (made dairy-free)
- Mashed Pumpkin dolloped into filo dough cups
- Green salad with dates and sliced apples
- Cow’s tongue

Entree and sides
- Roast chicken with dried apricots and pomegranate seeds
- Garlic-sauteed swiss chard with black-eyed peas
- Butternut squash drizzled with honey
- Yebra (stuffed meat grape leaves in a tamarind sauce)

Dessert
- Apple honey cake
- Chocolate Covered Arils
- Fresh cut fruit

Shana tova! Happy new year!


5 Comments on “Happy Rosh Hashanah!”

  1. 1 Johanna said at 12:06 pm on September 19th, 2009:

    Um…. yum-tastic!!! My friend at work, Fara, told me that her family gets their Rosh Hashanna, Yom Kippur, and Passover seders CATERED every year! How horrible!!! Isn’t one of the most fun parts about holidays the cooking? She wasn’t too upset about it, although she was really excited to break her diet for one night to eat apple cake and brisket.
    Yum.

    Happy New Year! Here’s hoping it’s a great one! :)

  2. 2 Johanna said at 12:09 pm on September 19th, 2009:

    Also, please excuse my kind of crappy spelling of Rosh Hashanah — I got carried away with it’s similarities to the spelling of my name. :)

  3. 3 Bakezilla said at 1:07 pm on September 19th, 2009:

    Happy New Year! I actually went to my first ever Rosh Hashanah celebration last night at B’s. It was awesome, though vegan, so things were a bit different in terms of food (no fish heads). I learned a LOT, and there was a vegan challah that was sooo tasty. While I’m not planning on converting, food this good makes it tempting! Haha. Shana Tova! (I think that’s right. it’s right-ish).

  4. 4 Alyssa said at 4:33 pm on September 19th, 2009:

    Happy New Year! This sounds so good!! I’m super excited to make the chocolate covered arils :)

  5. 5 leah said at 7:50 pm on September 20th, 2009:

    go you! i’m super impressed with the fantasy menu and would love to try something with pomegranates soon other than using them for decoration. i’m obsessed with the idea piling several in a bowl as a centerpiece :)


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