Sunday, October 2, 2016

Rosh Hashanah Vegetarian and GF Recipes

It's Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and my holiday menu includes both Eastern European traditional recipes and Sephardic or Mizrahi traditional recipes that I have adapted to meet vegan and gluten free standards.

My husband and I could be considered a mixed Jewish marriage; I am Ashkenzi (of Eastern European descent)  and he is Sephardic (of Middle Eastern descent).

Our Rosh Hashanah dinner menu reflects the rich traditions of both of our backgrounds.

Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews (Jews of Middle Eastern or Spanish origin) celebrate the Jewish New Year dinner with a Rosh Hashanah ceremonial seder plate. The ceremonial plate holds different foods that  have a special symbolic meaning. Some of these symbolic customs started as far back as 300 C.E. and were found in the writings of the Babylonian Talmud. Some of the symbolism comes from the meaning of the old Aramaic words.

Sephardic Jewish family from Cairo, Egypt 1965

My husband's family (with roots from Jerusalem, Egypt, Iraq and Italy) create a ceremonial Seder plate with the following foods and say a blessing for each food for the New Year.

1. A new fruit for the new year- 
We recite a blessing of appreciation recognizing the splendor of something new-we look for something like dragon fruit or fresh dates or fresh figs.

2. Pomegranate seeds- Ironically the pomegranate contains 613 seeds, which is is the same number as the required mitzvot (good deeds) that those of Jewish faith are required to perform. By eating the fruit we say a prayer that we should be fruitful and multiply-
** my mother-in-law, Toni, always warns everyone to be careful how many pomegranate seeds you eat at Rosh Hashanah as you may have that many children as the seeds you eat!

3. Link to Recipe: Leek patties  - Chopped up leeks made into patties- so that your enemies/or your bad habits should be chopped up and kept far away from you.

4. Dates- to have a sweet new year- Europeans Jewish custom is a little different- they dip apples with honey for a sweet year.

5.  A fish with the head and the tail - symbolic that we should always be at the head not the tail in all our endeavors. (not at my table- I use a head of broccoli or cauliflower)

6. Black Eyed Peas- symbolic that our good deeds and fortune should increase like the number of peas

There is a prayer to be said over each of the symbolic foods. Then the food is passed around the table for each person to taste. 

Eastern European customs: We do not have a Rosh Hashanah seder

My Eastern European family celebrates with the more well known Jewish Eastern European foods like chicken soup, matzo balls , chopped liver, honey cake, apples and honey. We do not do a ceremonial seder- we simply say a prayer and dip apples in honey for a sweet New Year.

MY Vegetarian and GF Rosh Hashanah Recipes: 

Vegan Mock Chicken Soup-  ( really good) 
My mother and grandmothers made chicken soup and matzo balls for every one of our Jewish holidays. Being a vegetarian, I make a mock chicken soup that tastes pretty close to the real thing and I make absolutely delicious easy gluten free matzo balls.

Click on the links to go to the recipes

Gluten Free Matzo Balls   - (The best GF matzo balls ever)
Again, this is a recipe that is from my side of the family.
My Sephardic husband had never even heard of a matzo ball when he lived in the Middle East. He ate his first matzo ball when he came to the United States. Now, he loves them and looks forward to eating them every Jewish holiday!

Mock Chopped Liver - Chopped liver was one of my family's favorites, and my mother always gave each person a full ice cream scoop of the appetizer on a big lettuce leaf and topped it with end of summer Jersey sliced tomatoes. I no longer eat meat, but I have a recipe for mock chopped liver that is better than the real thing and perhaps healthier.

Leek Patties- This is a recipe that my mother in law always makes for the Jewish New Year. It is a typical sephardic Turkish recipe that has a symbolic meaning. The leaks are chopped up to represent that all of your enemies should be chopped up! A more modern version is that our own bad habits and evil ways should be chopped up. ( recipe to be posted) 

Stuffed Grape Leaves-  My husband's family makes stuffed grape leaves for every holiday. I use a delicious vegan filling for my recipe. 

Greek Stuffed Tomatoes- This is a very tasty lemony vegetarian recipe that can be used as a side dish or entree. Makes a beautiful presentation and is absolutely delicious.

Joyci's Aromatic Salad Dressing- This is my sister in law's fresh aromatic herbed salad dressing that is delicious on salad, rice, vegetables etc. We enjoy it at every holiday meal. It wouldn't be a holiday without it. Thanks Joyci !!!

Gluten Free Honey Cake-  Many of the Eastern European customs revolve around sweet foods for a sweet new year.  Honey cakes are very popular choices for Rosh Hashanah as well as Jewish Apple Cake.  

Butternut Squash Parmesan- This sweet and savory casserole is a delicious fall recipe that is perfect for the Jewish New Year.

Lubia- black eyed peas- . We don't really have a recipe. We just cook them with salt and pepper . 

My Notes:
How did the Spanish Jews end up in the Middle East?
When the Spanish Jews were exiled from Spain during the Spanish Inquisition in 1491, they settled in the vast area of the Ottoman Empire .  Remember Ferdinand and Isabella who sent Christopher Columbus out of Spain to discover America in 1492? They also exiled all the Jews out of Spain in 1491.

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