Sukkot celebrates the final gathering of the harvest before the winter. Meals are served in the Sukkah, which symbolizes the temporary shelters in which our ancestors lived during their forty years in the desert.
A wonderful way to celebrate the agricultural theme is to take advantage of the bounty of the fall harvest, focusing on the glorious produce that is so plentiful at this time of year. Be sure to include more plant-based foods when planning your menus. Include a variety of salads, plus some main dishes and sides that can be served at room temperature. Stuffed vegetables (e.g., stuffed cabbage, eggplant, zucchini and bell peppers) are often served on Sukkot.
Please consult the OU Kosher guide for checking vegetables: https://oukosher.org/ou-guide-to-checking-produce-and-more/.
Rolled Stuffed Turkey Breast
Adapted from Norene’s Healthy Kitchen (Whitecap, 2007)
Yields 10 servings
This rolled-up roast tastes terrific and can be made a day ahead. The vegetable stuffing makes a beautiful pinwheel effect that will dazzle your guests. This dish makes a spectacular presentation for your holiday table.
Spinach and Mushroom Stuffing (next page)
2 medium onions, chopped
1 boneless, skinless turkey breast (about 4 pounds/1.8 kilograms)
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
Salt, pepper and paprika
1/2 teaspoon each dried basil and thyme
3 tablespoons apple, orange or mango juice
3 tablespoons balsamic or apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Prepare stuffing as directed. Spray a large roasting pan with cooking spray. Spread chopped onions at the bottom of the pan.
Butterfly the turkey breast by slicing it almost in half horizontally, leaving it hinged on one side so that it opens flat like a book. Cover with plastic wrap; pound lightly and flatten to 1/2 inch thick. Rub on both sides with garlic and seasonings.
Spread stuffing mixture on the turkey breast within 1 inch of the edges. Starting at the narrow end, roll up tightly. Tie with string in several places, about 3 inches apart. Place in prepared pan.
In a measuring cup, combine the juice, vinegar and olive oil with additional salt and pepper; mix well. Pour the mixture over the turkey, turning to coat it on all sides. Cover with foil and marinate the turkey in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days, basting occasionally. Remove from the refrigerator about 1/2 hour before cooking.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Roast the turkey, covered, calculating 25-30 minutes per pound. Total cooking time will be about 2 hours. Uncover the last half hour of cooking and baste occasionally. When done, a meat thermometer should register an internal temperature of 165-170°F and juices will run clear when turkey is pierced.
Let stand, covered loosely with foil, for 15 minutes for easier slicing. Slice the turkey thinly, making a pinwheel effect. Serve with pan juices.
Note: Keeps for up to 2 days in the refrigerator; reheats well; freezes well.
Stuffed Turkey London Broil
Instead of rolling the turkey breast with the stuffing, buy a boneless turkey breast with the skin attached (this is called Turkey London Broil). Spread the stuffing just under the skin. Cooking time will be about 25 minutes per pound.
1) Turkey breast will stay tender and juicy when the internal temperature does not exceed 170°F on a meat thermometer.
2) Do-Ahead: Prepare and cook the turkey as directed. Wrap in foil and refrigerate overnight. Reheat, loosely covered, at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. To serve: carve into 1/2-inch slices and arrange the overlapping slices on a serving platter. Serve with pan juices.
Spinach and Mushroom Stuffing
This versatile stuffing is packed with phytonutrients, vitamins and flavor. It makes a super stuffing for turkey breast but is also excellent for chicken breast, meat loaf or a large salmon fillet. Leftovers make a terrific omelet filling.
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped mushrooms
2 or 3 large cloves garlic (about 2 teaspoons minced)
1 package (10 ounces/300 grams) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1 tablespoon orange juice
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the onions and sauté 4-5 minutes or until tender.
Stir in the red pepper, mushrooms and garlic; sauté 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. If the mixture begins to stick, add a little water.
Stir in the spinach and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until most of the moisture has disappeared.
Remove from heat and add the orange rind, juice, basil, salt and pepper. Let mixture cool before using. Stuffing can be made up to a day in advance and refrigerated.
Stuffed Cabbage, Slow Cooker Style
Adapted from Norene’s Healthy Kitchen (Whitecap, 2007)
Yields 24 cabbage rolls
Cabbage rolls are often served on Simchat Torah because their cylindrical shape symbolizes the shape of a Torah scroll. If you don’t have a slow cooker, see chef’s secrets (next page). This heart-healthy version comes from children’s author Rona Arato, of Toronto. My friend Ronnie (Rona) really loved her mother’s stuffed cabbage, so she set out to duplicate it when she moved into her first apartment. Since she didn’t have the recipe, she made it from memory.
1 large cabbage, frozen (see Chef’s Secrets, next page) and then thawed
2 pounds (1 kilogram) lean ground turkey, chicken, veal or beef
2 large eggs
1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Pepper and sweet paprika to taste
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 large onion, diced
1 can (28 ounces/796 milliliters) crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup water (about)
1/2 cup cider vinegar (or to taste)
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon dried basil
Dash of Worcestershire sauce (choose a brand that does not contain anchovies)
Salt, pepper and paprika
Remove the leaves from the thawed cabbage and squeeze out any excess water.
Combine the ground turkey, eggs, rice and seasonings in a large bowl; mix well.
Place a large spoonful of filling on one end of each cabbage leaf. Starting at the end with the filling, tightly roll up the leaves, folding in the sides. Place the cabbage rolls, seam-side down, in the slow cooker. Slice up any leftover cabbage and add it to the slow cooker.
For the sauce: In a large bowl, mix together the onions, tomatoes, water, vinegar, sugar, caraway seeds, basil, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and paprika. If the mixture is too thick, add a little water to thin it. Taste the mixture and adjust the vinegar-sugar ratio to get the right sweet-and-sour flavor. Pour the sauce over the cabbage rolls.
Cover and cook on high for about 4 hours or until the cabbage is soft. (If you prefer, cook on low for 8 hours.)
Note: Keeps for up to 3 days in the refrigerator; reheats well; freezes well.
1) Place the whole cabbage in a plastic bag in the freezer for up to 2 days. Remove from the freezer the night before using and thaw at room temperature overnight. When fully thawed, use a sharp knife to remove the core. The wilted leaves will separate easily.
2) To roll the cabbage leaves easily, pare the thick rib portion with a sharp knife. Larger leaves are best for stuffing.
3) No Slow Cooker? Pour the sauce mixture into a Dutch oven or large pot. Add cabbage rolls and leftover cabbage. If sauce doesn’t cover cabbage rolls, add a little water. Cover and heat until simmering. Cook slowly for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Roasted Squash With Red Onion & Pears
Adapted from The Silver Platter: Simple to Spectacular
by Daniella Silver and Norene Gilletz (Mesorah, 2015)
Yields 8 servings
This unique combo of squash and roasted pears brings something new to the table. A perfect partner to roast chicken or brisket, this scrumptious veggie side dish is always well received. As an added bonus, it’s gluten-free and perfect for the vegetarians at your holiday table. Simply spectacular, simply delicious!
2 large delicata squash (about 1 pound/500 grams each)*
1 large red onion, halved and sliced
4 firm ripe pears (e.g., Bosc), cored, cut into wedges (do not peel)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Cut squash crosswise into 1/4-inch slices to form half-moons.
In a large bowl, combine squash with onion and pears. Drizzle with olive oil; sprinkle with brown sugar, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir gently.
Spread mixture in a single layer on prepared baking sheet.
Roast, uncovered, for about 30-35 minutes, just until tender, turning squash, onion and pears once or twice during cooking.
Transfer to a serving platter. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Note: Do not freeze. Reheats well.
*If you can’t find delicata squash, substitute acorn squash.
Easiest Apple Cake
Yields 8 or 9 servings
When my son, Doug, and his wife first started dating, she told him, “This is my mom’s apple cake!” Doug replied, “No, this is my mom’s apple cake!” I had created the recipe nearly 50 years ago when a group of young Jewish women in Montreal compiled Second Helpings, Please! as a fundraising project. The cookbook is no longer in print, but this recipe has become almost everyone’s apple cake! I hope it will be yours as well.
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup oil
3 tablespoons water or orange juice
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6-8 baking apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup white or brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup icing sugar, if desired
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking dish or 9-inch springform pan. Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer or food processor until fluffy. Beat in oil.
Add liquid alternately with combined dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt) and beat just until smooth.
Spoon half of the batter into prepared baking dish. Spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Add apples which have been sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. Cover with remaining batter. (It doesn’t matter if the apples are completely covered.)
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until nicely browned. Cool completely. Sprinkle with icing sugar, if desired.
Doubly Delicious! Why not double the recipe? Use a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Baking time will be about 1 hour.
Freeze with Ease: If you make this cake more than a day or two in advance, it will get a bit soggy. Try this terrific trick: Cool cake completely, then wrap airtight and freeze. When needed, thaw completely. Then cover loosely with a sheet of parchment paper, making several slashes to allow the moisture to evaporate. Reheat in a 350°F oven for 12-15 minutes. Tastes fresh-baked!
Use blueberries, cherries or your favorite pie filling in place of apples.
Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She is the author of ten cookbooks and divides her time between work as a food writer, culinary consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer and editor. Norene lives in Toronto, Canada. For more information, visit her web site at www.gourmania.com.