It is that time of year again: the leaves changing, the weather cooling, October whirling into crisp, crunchy autumn. As the festivities begin and people start decorating, it can mean only one thing: It’s time to build a sukkah. Sukkot is a harvest holiday, which means it’s all about the food. As Sukkot is only days away, here are the top foods to enjoy in your sukkah (while doing that mitzvah!).
While there aren’t many dishes exclusive to Sukkot, vegetables and fruit fit with the general harvest theme. As Sukkot commemorates the 40 years the Israelites wandered the desert living in temporary shelters, we spend eight days in a sukkah. The Torah tells us to dwell in a temporary shelter for seven days, hence the tradition in Israel. During the “Feast of Tabernacles” we eat meals in the hut that has two and a half walls covered with material that will not blow away regardless of weather. Further, s’chach (bamboo sticks, pine tree and palm leaves) should be placed sparsely enough that rain can get in the sukkah. Art work, dried squash and corn are common decorations.
Essentially, the best foods to eat in a sukkah should be easily transportable from the kitchen. Kreplach is generally eaten on the seventh day. Further, it is tradition to eat Challah dipped in honey. Since it is necessary that, on the first night of Sukkot, two or more ounces of grain are eaten inside the sukkah, special types of foods should be consumed made from different grains including rye, spelt, barley, wheat and oat.
Other sukkah favorites include vegetables that are stuffed. Additional autumnal foods that represent the abundance of the harvest and are easily transportable to be eaten inside the sukkah include:
Squash soup (a simple favorite for the Fall holiday as there are popular variations of this soup, including butternut squash and apple soup, pumpkin soup): A soup prepared using the fall product squash as the main ingredient.
Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 40-50 minutes
Total time: 45-55 minutes
Yields: 8 servings
-1 medium onion, minced
-2 pounds prepared peeled, cubed butternut squash
-6 cups water
-1 cup coconut milk
-½ cup white wine
-2 cloves chopped garlic
-1 tablespoon grated ginger
-1 teaspoon curry powder
-¼ teaspoon dried thyme
-1 teaspoon kosher salt
Place all ingredients in a 6-quart stockpot and boil. Allow ingredients to simmer and cook covered for 30-40 minutes until vegetables are soft. With an immersion blender, potato masher or fork puree the squash and allow to cook for ten more minutes. Serve in bowls with toasted pine nuts.
Ginger Carrot soup: A soup with a base of chicken broth, roasted carrots and crushed ginger that also makes great use of the Fall harvest.
Chicken Matzo ball soup: An Ashkenazi Jewish soup with dumpling made from a mixture of matzo meal, eggs, water and a fat. Matzah balls are traditionally served in chicken soup. Adding onions, celery and even thin egg noodles make it a favorite to some.
Salads: A mixed green, beet and walnut salad with lemon juice and raisins.
Challah: A Rosca challah dough rolled flat and enriched with sugar, cinnamon, nuts and dried fruit or the variations including honey challah and traditional style challah.
Recipe: Rosca Challah
From The Kosher Channel
-1 pound Challah dough
-2 tablespoons cinnamon
-¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
-¼ cup chopped nuts
-¼ cup dried, diced fruit
-1 beaten egg
Roll dough into a large rectangle ¼ inch in width and spread cinnamon, sugar, nuts, and fruit on dough. Leave 1” border on all four sides uncovered. Roll the dough into a long snake shape and press the loose edge into the dough to seal. Coil the dough into a circle and tuck the loose end under the circle. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place coil in a cake pan that is greased. Allow dough to rise for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Brush top of tough with beaten egg. Then bake in oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Then let cool in pan for 15 minutes.
Stuffed foods and popular vegetables:
It is said that stuffed foods symbolize the temporary shelter of the sukkah as it is represented that the food is covered. Stuffed foods are also easy to prepare.
Stuffed Peppers: Different colored peppers including red, green, or yellow peppers which can be cut and stuffed full with ingredients such as rice, meat, and herbs.
Recipe: Stuffed Peppers
From Joy of Kosher
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Yields: 5 Servings
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 pound ground beef
-2 teaspoons (fish free) Worcestershire sauce
-½ teaspoon garlic powder
-¼ teaspoon chili powder
-2 tablespoons dried, minced onion flakes
-1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
-½ teaspoon black pepper
-1 cup quick-cooking rice
-3 ½ cups prepared marinara sauce divided
-5 bell peppers with tops cut off
Preheat oven to 350 F. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and saute ground beef for 3-4 minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce, garlic and chili powders, onion flakes, parsley and black pepper. Cook 1-2 minutes while stirring ingredients. Mix in cooked rice and 2 cups of marinara sauce. Stuff each pepper with beef and rice mixture. Pour 1 ½ cups marinara sauce on peppers. Bake for 1 hour- 1 hour 30 minutes uncovered.
Stuffed Cabbage, Zucchini, Squash, Eggplant and Tomatoes are great additional vegetables that can be enjoyed stuffed.
Kreplach: These are tasty stuffed dumplings that are made out of rolled pasta dough which are cut into squares and then folded into triangles. These are generally filled with ground beef or chicken. Boiled and served in soup or fried and served.
-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
-1 clove of garlic, minced
-1 pound extra-lean ground beef
-½ cup of Guiness Extra Stout
-1 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon pepper
-¼ cup breadcrumbs
Saute the onion and garlic. Then brown the ground beef and add Guiness and the onions and garlic. Cook until Guiness is nearly evaporated, add salt and pepper. Then put mixture into food processor and process into a paste. Add breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, and an egg. Then chill.
-2 cups flour
-½ teaspoon salt
-3 tablespoons cold water
In food processor bowl, put flour, eggs, and salt. Then process while adding water to form a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap for 30 minutes. Then using a pasta machine, roll out dough to ⅛ inch width.
Kreplach assembling: Cut dough into 2 inch squares. Place 1 teaspoon of the filling on each square. Fold into triangles and pinch the edges together to seal. Boil water in pot for 5-10 minutes with a tablespoon of salt added to pot. Add 10 kreplach to the pot at a time and repeat until they are done, adding more water to the pot as necessary. Cook 1 minute in soup until heated through or fry to serve.
Knishes: This delicious dish can either be prepared as a snack food, side dish or stuffed pastry. It is delicious in every way that is is prepared including fried, baked or boiled. Potato knishes are extremely popular for Sukkot and hamantaschen which is a sweet filled pastry pocket is very popular for Purim.
Tzimmes can symbolize any sweet holiday including Rosh Hashana and Sukkot. It is a traditional Jewish food that can be prepared in many ways and have many variations. It is generally a sweet vegetable preparation typically made from carrots and dried fruits such as prunes or raisins sometimes combined with other root vegetables. You can add meat (brisket is a favorite!).The dish is cooked slowly over low heat and flavored with sugar and sometimes cinnamon. It is a delicious candied carrot to enjoy in the sukkah!
One pot Casseroles and Noodle Kugel: A baked pudding or casserole that can be made from starches such as egg noodles or potatoes. Some like it sweet and add different ingredients which include raisins, cinnamon and apples.
Gefilte Fish is a traditional dish used on many holidays including Sukkot. This is made from a poached mixture of ground deboned fish like whitefish and carp. Many enjoy Gefilte fish with small sliced carrots on top and a dollop of a mixture of horseradish and beets.
Salmon: This is a delicious fish that can be prepared very easily whether you choose to grill it, bake it, broil it or saute it in a wok. Pickled salmon is another option. So many different herbs can be used for this great fish.
Strudels are a type of layered pastry with a filling that is usually sweet. There are many great recipes for making strudels including dried fruit strudels, jam strudels, walnut strudels and apple raisin strudels. This is a great sukkot dessert representing the bountiful harvest by stuffing your delicious pastry with additional flavorful fruits and nuts.
Recipe: Cinnamon Strudel
From What Jew Wanna Eat
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
-2½ cups flour
-1 cup sour cream
-2 sticks butter
-½ cup granulated sugar
-½ cup brown sugar
-⅓ cup softened butter
-1 tablespoon cinnamon
-¾ cup walnuts
-Cinnamon and sugar topping
Mix together flour, sour cream, and 2 sticks of butter. Then roll into 4 balls and refrigerate overnight covered with wax paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and roll each ball into a thin, rounded rectangle on parchment paper. Mix together sugars, ⅓ cup softened butter, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon on dough keeping away from the edges. Add nuts and roll up. Then sprinkle with cinnamon, sugar, and repeat with remaining dough. Bake for 30 minutes. Slice into 1 and ¼ inch pieces.
Tarts (apple, pear, berry and other assortments) The seeds in the fruits represent hope for a bountiful harvest. Tarts are made with these wonderful baked fruits.