It’s officially fall with Sukkot just a day away. Often called the Jewish Thanksgiving, ( and supposedly the actual inspiration for Thanksgiving) Sukkot is the time when we usually say good -bye to the outdoors and begin to snuggle down in the warmth of our homes. Of course, this year is a little different and we may want to extend that dinner on the deck experience as long as we can.
So what to prepare to celebrate the harvest and still be served easily outdoors?
Here are some suggestions many of which make use of fall’s bounty.
Dinner on a cool evening is always enhanced by soup. Make it easy and try a packaged butternut squash soup. Trader Joe’s is excellent and will fool most guests and it’s so much easier to open a box than to cut up squash. A sprinkle of ginger or toasted pine nuts on top makes it your own.
Joan Nathan is one of my favorite chef’s. Her recipes always are tasty even if they don’t look quite like the pictures. Watching her cook is like watching someone’s mother or grandmother. She is a self-confessed messy cook who often says-just as i do- now where is that spatula or whatever. Try this egg dish for a light Sukkot supper.
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
3 Tablespoons butter or olive oil, divided
1 pound zucchini, half chopped and half sliced into thin rounds
4 large eggs
4 ounces feta cheese, preferably Bulgarian
2 Tablespoons fresh dill
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan or Kashkaval cheese
salt and pepper to taste
- Saute onion in 2 Tablespoons butter or oil
- Add chopped zucchini, cooking for just a few minutes until zucchini starts to get golden. Remove from pan and cool.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 9 inch pie pan with rest of butter or oil.
- Beat the eggs. Stir in the zucchini-onion mixture, dill,crumbled feta, salt and pepper,
- Top the mixture with the zucchini rounds, gently pressing them down. Brush with oil and sprinkle with Parmesan.
- Bake for 45 minutes.
- Serve with good bread and a big salad.
Notes: Other herbs can be substituted for dill. Add some sautéed eggplant or mushrooms to the mixture for a heartier dish or even some vegetarian sausage. This reheats well.
A pickled salad is always a nice side dish. This is a twist on the usual oil/lemon juice or vinegar brine.
1 English cucumber, quartered and cut into 3/4” pieces
3 Tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon white vinegar
- Combine everything in a bowl.
- Cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally for up to 24 hours.
Notes: Try adding halved grape or cherry tomatoes and sliced radishes for a colorful side dish.
If you want to get a little fancies for dinner, try this next dish, perfect for company or Shabbat. While it uses fruit, it is not overly sweet.
6 (6 oz) salmon fillets or a 1and a half pound fillet
1/3 c. olive oil
zest and juice of one lemon
1 Tablespoon pomegranate molasses or concentrate
1/4 c. plus 1 Tablespoon honey, divided
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 lemons, sliced thin
pomegranate seeds for garnish
Fresh mint or micro greens for garnish
- Preheat oven to 450.
- Place salmon on parchment lined baking sheet
- Whisk oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, 1tablespoon honey, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper until emulsified. Brush over salmon. Save the rest.
- Arrange lemon slices on top of salmon. Drizzle with honey.
- Cook 12-15 minutes
- Garnish with sauce, pomegranate seeds and mint.
Notes: To get the most juice out of the lemon, roll it on the counter before juicing. This sauce would also work on chicken or tofu. For a vegan meal, substitute silan (date honey) or agave for the honey. Try using Aleppo pepper as a seasoning instead of ground black pepper. Aleppo pepper is a lovely red color and, while it has a peppery bite, there is also a note of sweetness tempering the bite. Lovely.
Lastly, my family loves kasha varnishkes. But over the holidays I ran out of kasha. I improvised using bulgur that I had bought at the Middle Eastern grocery on Route 46 in Totowa. Bulgur is usually used for tabouli, a cold grain salad. But it’s a great stand-in for bulgur with a slightly different taste and texture.
1 cup coarse bulgur
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter or parve margarine
2 1/2 cups hot water or broth
2 teaspoons salt
- Put olive oil and butter or margarine in a pot.
- Add bulgur and stir over low heat for a few minutes.
- Add hot water and salt.
- Cook for 15 minutes covered on low heat without stirring.
- After about 15 minutes, when bulgur has swelled, remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for an additional 15 minutes.
- Stir gently and set aside for 5 minutes.
Notes: Add sautéed onions, mushrooms, bowties, if desired in in kasha varnishkes. Or add other vegetables or even dried fruit.
Dessert should be simple but fruity. Try one of these previously published desserts: cinnamon sugar apple cake (The holidays are comin in, Sept 2020) or the Marian Burros classic plum torte, (Additional Things to Make and Do, Oct 2020)
Hag Sameach and Hearty Appetite!