You may not think of Jewish cooking as trendsetting, but truth is, it has been focused on seasonal recipes sporting local ingredients since long before farmers markets became the darling of the foodie scene. And the Jewish new year meal, served at Rosh Hashana, is a perfect example of this unintended hipness.
While the foods of this holiday are most often acknowledged for their emblematic value — think apples and honey to represent a sweet year to come — they also are intentionally seasonal for both the symbolic and practical reasons of wanting to celebrate the hope of new beginnings by using what you have on hand in late summer and early fall.
So Rosh Hashana, which begins at sundown Sept. 28, turns out to be the perfect opportunity to serve a local, in-season meal while fully embracing the spirit of the holiday.
Traditionally, foods are chosen that are both sweet and round. Round foods represent the circle of life that continues with the new year.
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Jewish cooks wrap that symbolism around foods that are available to them during the autumn harvest season, such as squash, beets and apples.
Spinach With Pomegranate Dressing
Start to finish: 15 minutes
This recipe is from The Associated Press.
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
¼ teaspoon chopped lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
10 ounces baby spinach, large stems removed
2 small Hass avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced
2 small red onions, sliced into very thin rings
½ cup crumbled goat cheese
Seeds of 1 pomegranate (optional)
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, pomegranate molasses, lemon zest, lemon juice and honey. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside. Divide the spinach evenly among 10 salad plates. Arrange the avocado slices and red onion rings over each salad. Sprinkle each with goat cheese. Whisk the dressing to recombine and drizzle over each salad. Top with pomegranate seeds, if desired.
Riz au Safran (Saffron Rice Pilaf)
This recipe is from "Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous," by Joan Nathan (Alfred A. Knopf, $39.95).
Pinch of saffron
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
½ cup pine nuts, almonds or pistachios
1 cup long-grain rice
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt and ground black pepper to taste
Stir saffron into 2 tablespoons hot water; set aside. Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add onion and pine nuts and cook over medium heat, stirring for about five minutes or until onion is translucent and nuts are fragrant and beginning to change color. Lower the heat and stir in the rice. Add the saffron and its water, the remaining ingredients and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a slow simmer, cover and cook for 15 to 18 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
Honey-Thyme Chickens With Cider Gravy
Start to finish: 2 hours, 15 minutes
This recipe is from The Associated Press.
2 whole chickens (4 to 5 pounds each), giblets discarded
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
4 teaspoons dried thyme, divided
1 large yellow onion, quartered
¾ cup each, dry white wine and water
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup honey
1½ cups apple cider, divided
2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
Gravy: 2 cups chicken broth, 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Heat oven to 425 degrees; set rack in middle of oven. Pat the chickens dry with paper towels and rub 1 tablespoon of the oil over the outside of each. Sprinkle the inside and outside of the chickens with salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon each of the thyme. Stuff each chicken with two onion quarters. Tuck the wings behind the back and tie the legs together with kitchen twine.
Arrange the chickens, breast side down, on a V-rack set inside a roasting pan. Roast until the chickens are golden, about 45 minutes. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and carefully, using paper towels, flip the chickens so they are breast side up. Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees. Pour the wine and water into the roasting pan. Return the roasting pan to the oven and roast until the thigh meat registers 165 to 170 degrees, about one hour. If the pan dries out, add more water ½ cup at a time.
Meanwhile, to make the glaze, in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the butter and remaining 2 teaspoons of thyme. Melt the butter and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes. Add the honey and ½ cup of the apple cider, then simmer until the glaze has thickened and reduced a bit, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and set aside.
Remove the roasting pan from the oven and brush the chickens evenly with a thick layer of the glaze and continue to roast until the glaze is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chickens to a cutting board, brush with the remaining glaze.
To make the cider gravy, whisk ½ cup of the chicken broth and flour in a small bowl until smooth. Set aside. Set the roasting pan over two burners on medium-high heat. Add the remaining cider and bring to a boil. Cook, scraping up the browned bits from the pan, until the liquid is reduced by about half, about five minutes. Add the remaining 2½ cups of broth. Increase the heat to high and return to a boil, whisking often. Boil until the liquid is reduced by about half, five to seven minutes. Whisk the reserved flour-broth mixture into the pan. Boil, whisking constantly, until the gravy is thickened, one to three minutes. Remove from the heat and strain. Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice and season with salt and pepper, to taste.