“On the first day you shall take the fruit of hadar trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the L-rd your G-d seven days.” Viyikra 23:40
I love the sound of the shaking boughs on Sukkot and the fresh and bright perfume of lemon and citrus. I love how we go from the solemnity of the Yom Kippur fast right into the joy of Sukkot with singing and decorating and enjoying the bountiful foods available to us.
Apples are at their height of deliciousness now. At a farm the other day, I saw several new kinds and the owner very willingly gave me a taste of all of them: Blondee Gala, Dayton, Freedom, Priscilla and more. Some that are returning, like Baldwins and Winesap, go back to our ancestors. I cannot wait to make apple cakes, pies and crisps for the fall.
Squashes are also coming to the harvest now. These, too have new kinds added to the staples of acorn and butternut and Hubbard. There was an all-white squash and, of course, those that look like swans and make beautiful centerpieces. Squash soup is a perfect autumn meal starter.
Sukkot celebrates the harvests of these foods and so many more. It is a joyous holiday that reminds us that our earth is remarkable and continues to feed us and care for us. As we celebrate this holiday of the harvest, we need to remember that we, in return, must care for and respect the earth.
Baby Eggplant with Caramelized Onions and Sun-Dried Tomatoes (Pareve or Dairy)
This is easy to take to a sukkot and can be served hot or just warm.
6 to 8 baby eggplants (each about 6-8 inches)
8 to 10 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
4 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 large Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
1 to 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 fresh tomatoes (Roma is best), seeded and chopped
Diced eggplant from the shells (See directions below)
1/2 cup thinly sliced zucchini, slices cut in half
1 jar (3-5 ounces) Sun dried tomatoes in oil, chopped, oil reserved
1/2 tsp. sugar
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 cup bread crumbs mixed with 2 tbsp. melted butter or pareve margarine of olive oil
OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped fresh or dried oregano to taste
3 tbsp. Canola oil
Oil from the sundried tomatoes, up to 1-2 tbsp.
3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 tsp. sugar
1/3 cup water
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a large roasting pan. Set aside.
Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. Scoop out the middle of the eggplant, leaving a shell about 1/3-inch thick. Dice the eggplant and set aside. Place each eggplant half, cut side up, in the roasting pan. Drizzle with the 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and set aside.
Peel and slice the onions. Heat a large skillet and add the olive oil. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for about 15-25 minutes or until deeply golden. If they begin to stick to the pan, add water, a tablespoon at a time to deglaze the pan as they darken. Add the garlic and tomatoes and heat 5 minutes, until the liquid from the fresh tomatoes reduces. Add the eggplant and zucchini and mix until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, mix well and cook 3 minutes Add the half-teaspoon sugar and 3-4 tablespoons the lemon juice. Add the parsley and season to taste. If you like, add the basil and/or oregano. Adjust seasonings to taste. Remove from heat.
For the sauce, mix the canola oil with the, sundried tomato oil, lemon juice, garlic and sugar to taste.
Add a scoop of filling to each eggplant half and then sprinkle with a tablespoon of the breadcrumbs. Drizzle with the olive oil mixture. Pour the water around the edge of the pan. Cover tightly with foil and place in the oven. Let roast for 20 minutes. Uncover and baste with the liquid. Add more water if needed. Cover and roast for an additional 20 minutes. Uncover and add more water if needed. Roast an additional 20-30 minutes, until golden and soft, checking to avoid burning. If tops begin to burn, lower the heat to 375 and tent lightly with foil. You may need to shorten cooking times. Serves 6-8.
Roasted Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette (Pareve or Dairy)
This is a great appetizer or side dish and also perfect for sukkah eating as it can be eaten hot or barely warm.
2 cups unbleached flour or half white and half whole wheat flour
1-1/2 sticks butter or trans-fat free pareve margarine, cut into very small cubes
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup ice water or ice cold orange juice
1 pound butternut squash, cut into half-inch cubes
3 tbsp. dark brown sugar
4 large onions, white or red, peeled, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 tsp. fresh sage, finely minced
1 tsp. fresh parsley, finely minced
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
For the Dough:
Mix the flour, salt and sugar to together. Add the margarine and, with a pastry blender or two knives, cut the margarine into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. You can do this in a food processor with one or two pulses.
Remove from the processor and place in a bowl for the next steps. Make a well and add about half of the ice water or juice. Blend with a fork until the water is evenly incorporated. Add more liquid, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough just holds together. Mold the dough into two discs, about 5 inches in diameter and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
While the dough is chilling, place the squash cubes in a zipper-type bag. Add two tablespoons of the olive oil and shake to coat. Place on a foil lined, greased rimmed cookie sheet. Sprinkle with the brown sugar, and bake at 400 degrees until fork-tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, Heat a large skillet and add the remaining olive oil. Add the onions and sprinkle with a little salt. Heat over low heat, stirring often until the onions are caramelized and deep, golden brown, about 30 minutes. Gently toss the squash cubes with the onions Add the sage and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place on a generously floured table or counter. Quickly and gently roll out the dough until it is about 9 inches in diameter. Place on a parchment lined, rimmed baking dish. Repeat with the other disc.
Mound half the filling mixture in the middle of each disc, leaving about 2 inches from the edges, free of filling. Carefully lift one edge of the dough up and fold over the filling. Lift another section up and fold it over the first part, making a pleat or crimp so the dough will stay put. Continue until all the dough is “pleated” up around the filling leaving a “hole” about 5 inches in diameter in the middle that is not covered with dough. Make sure the pleats are tight so that they won’t open during baking. Repeat with the second galette.
Bake at 400 degrees until golden, about 25-35 minutes. Each galette serves about 4-6 as a side dish and 6-8 as an appetizer. To serve, cut into thin, pie wedge slices.
NOTE: For a dairy meal, you can sprinkle a bit of your favorite cheese over the squash halfway through baking.