Upon our return to Israel, we entered into a mandatory 14-day quarantine (with 3 molecular PCR tests done!!!). Our son had come home two days before our arrival to open up and air out the house. I had given Max a long list of groceries to get so that we wouldn’t co home to an empty fridge. Entering the front door, the house was clean and Max had even left a a bouquet of flowers. Previous to our arrival I had also ordered a ton of organic, freshly-picked-from-the-fields produce. Three huge crates were left at my front doorstep the next morning. It was absolutely glorious! Squash, white and purple cabbages, pears, the last nectarines of the season, avocados, pumpkin, greens, carrots, beans, onions, sweet and regular potatoes, mangos, limes, fresh dill, parsley, cilantro, basil and so much more. Gad even put in exras like cherry tomatoes, eggplant, pomegranates, and oranges.
It had been so long since I’d written a blogpost that I had to spend the whole day developing and perfecting the recipes for you. Which was great, because by the end of the second day, I’d fully realized that I herniated or ruptured a disc and had to take to bed (which will also give me time to write and to design the embroidery for my daughter’s wedding dress). But with my husband’s help, I’d put up several jars of spiced pears, zucchini pickle relish and some pickled corn. Lots was frozen and there’s food to last for weeks which will also be served for the Jewish holidays(Rosh haShannah the New Year; Yom Kippur the Day of Atonement & Sukkot the weeklong Festival of Booths). Interesting fact: in Israel, almost all stores and businesses completely shut down for each of the holidays – sometimes that can last up to three days in a row!!! So we’ve learned from past mistakes to have everything we need for the days before, during and after.
So here goes. This first recipe is an old family favorite, made by my dad of blessed memory. A few years ago I was going through an old box of letters and photos and I found his hand-written list of ingredients. His recipe called for whole Seckel pears. I had four kilos (8.8lbs) of regular hard green pears, so I used many and put up 12 pint jars of spiced pears. I substituted honey for the sugar to make it a little healthier.
Spiced Autumn Pears
- 5 pounds pears
- 6 cups water
- 1 1/2 cup dark honey
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 cinnamon sticks, broken up
- 1/4 cup cloves
- about 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Sterilize canning jars and lids in boiling water 20 minutes,making sure all are completely submerged.
While the jars are going, make the syrup. in medium pot, bring water, vinegar and honey to a boil, then reduce to low. Add spices. Halve pears. remove the core with a melon baller and cut each half into 3 slices. On a clean kitchen towel, using tongs (there are special, inexpensive canning tools that are a mainstay in my kitchen) remove the sterilized jars. Divide pears between the jars. Using a funnel, pour hot syrup into each jar up to 1/4 inch from top. Put lids and sealing rings on jar. Process back in hot water bath for another 20 minutes.
The next recipe is great for Rosh haShannah because it incorporates many of the symbolic foods we use at the festive meal. Plus, many of the ingredients are used in the other recipes. I roast a pound piece of fresh pumpkin (our pumpkins are different than the US/UK varieties) or a nice sized butternut squash, halved, seeds reserved and roasted with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. The salad below keeps well for up to a week, and is absolutely gorgeous with all those jewel-like autumn colors! Plus it’s packed with proteins, vitamins and antioxidants.
Autumn Harvest Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup multicolored quinoa
- 2 1/4 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups (or more) roasted pumpkin or buttternut squash, cubed
- 1/2 cup red/ purple onion, diced
- 1/4 cup candied or regular roasted pecan pieces
- 1/3 cup large yellow raisins
- 1/4 cup raisins or currants
- 1/4 cup dates, chopped (I used 5 large, soft dates, pitted)
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 pomegranate’s arils
- 1 large orange
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/4 cup honey
- juice and ”mash” of 1/2 red/purple onion (I will explain)
- 1 heaping teaspoon baharat spice (I will explain)*
Cook quinoa in water according to package directions. Fluff and let cool. While quinoa is cooking dice the onion and cube the roasted gourd into small, bite-sized pieces. In large bowl, add fluffed quinoa, onion, squash/gourd, pecan pieces and dried fruits. Fold together gently. Pour 1/2 cup dressing over top. Directions below. Reserve remaining dressing for fruit salads or green salads. Fold gently to incorporate. Mix in most of the pomegranate arils, reserving some for the top.
This is so tasty. The flavors are popping bright, and the dressing really adds an exotic complexity.
To make the dressing:
Grate the orange rind into a large tumbler or drink shaker. Squeeze orange into bowl, removing any pits. I keep the orange bits. Transfer to the shaker. Add oil and honey. Using a garlic press, squeeze the onion juice from the cut-up red onion into the shaker. Add the left-over mashed onion. Add the baharat.* Add water. Shake vigorously.
- *If you don’t have the Middle Eastern spice blend, baharat, you can make some easily. It is quite versatile – used in salads, soups, casseroles, stews, and baking:
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cardamom
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp salt
Assessing what I had in the produce boxes, I decided to make a vegetable quiche using ingredients on-hand. Hmmm… what do I have a ton of that might go well together? I had the veggies, 18 eggs, cream and four cheeses Max had bought (but no parmesan). It turned out to be the best quiche I have ever made!!! This is best eaten hot or warm and served with a side salad or a fruit salad – or the Autumn Harvest Quinoa Salad above.
- 1 frozen and defrosted deep dish pie shell OR frozen, defrosted pastry to line a large, greased quiche dish
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper, roasted and peel removed
- 1 red/purple onion, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 medium-sized zucchini, quartered lengthways and sliced
- 1 large carrot or 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thin 1/8”)
- 5 large eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar
- 1/3 cup shredded smoked gouda (this really adds the complexity!)
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
- salt and freshly cracked pepper
Roast the pepper 15 minutes at 400*F/200*C then let cool. Peel the skin off and remove the seeds. Place your pastry-lined quiche dish on a foil-lined jelly roll pan (baking sheet with sides). In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmery, then add the cut-up onion, carrot and squash. Sauté until the vegetables are tender. Set aside. In a medium sized bowl, lightly beat eggs and stir in cream. Spoon the cooked veggies into the bottom of your prepared pastry-lined dish. Layer the shredded smoked gouda, distributing evenly. Cut pepper into thin strips and lay them over the cheese. Sprinkle with the thyme, salt and pepper. Gently pour in the egg mixture. Let settle. Sprinkle shredded cheddar over top and sprinkle paprika over cheddar. Place in oven pre-heated to 375*F/188*C for 45-50 minutes or until top is bubbly and golden brown.
I can’t even begin to believe I forgot to photograph this one! We devoured the ”test soufflé”for lunch and froze the second one. The third, my husband brought me on a plate for Rosh haShonnah dinner, and hadn’t taken any pictures beforehand. But I wouldn’t share this recipe unless it was absolutely mouth-watering. Baking it just makes the entire house smell like the fall holidays!! The soufflé is a bit like the filling for a pumpkin pie, only lighter and fluffier- and more tasty. It’s a great side dish, but I think it would be super with cream on top for breakfast or as part of a cheesecake (I’ll save that project for another day).
(6-8 servings, pareve)
- 1 large sweet potato
- 2 large carrots, peeled
- 1 cup roasted pumpkin, butternut squash or canned pumpkin purée
- 6 pitted dates OR 1/2 cup silan (date syrup) OR 1/2 cup honey
- 1 orange, peel grated, and juiced – seeds removed
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 1/2 tsp flour ( can be a GF substitute)
- 1 TBSP baharat spice powder ( see above recipe)
Preheat oven to 400*F/200*C. Wrap the sweet potato, and carrots in aluminum foil and roast for about 45minutes or until tender. Oil a soufflé dish or tall casserole dish. After the veggies have roasted and cooled, peel the sweet potato and cut the carrots into chunks. Transfer the veg along with the pumpkin/squash into a large mixing bowl. Add the dates, silan or honey, the grated orange rind and juice. Purée thoroughly with an immersion blender. When well-blended, gently fold in the beaten eggs, sprinkled flour and baharat. Very gentlytransfer the mixtue to a greased soufflé dish and bake for 25-30 minutes, uncovered until soufflé rises and top has browned. Can be served warm or cold.
The next dish is another salad. It’s traditional to eat beans on the Jewish New Year as a sign of our fruitfulness and of the many good deeds we will do in the upcoming year. In the Southern United States we would eat black-eyed peas as a symbol of good luck for the new year (January 1). Also, because beans are a humble dish, according to the Southerner, starting out the year in humility ensures wealth in the months to come. The Jewish custom is to eat scallions: scallions look like whips. At the Rosh haShonnah table the little kids like to smack each other with scallions. It’s a fun object lesson of slavery in Egypt. May we continue to live in freedom without fear of the taskmasters’ whips! Whatever the tradition or superstition, it’s a healthy side dish that can stand alone as a hearty lunch.
Black-eyed Pea Salad
serves 6-8 vegan, pareve
- 3 cups black-eyed peas, soaked, rinsed and cooked (can use frozen, defrosted)
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 orange bell pepper
- 4-6 scallions
- 1 stalk celery
- handful of each: fresh parsley, oregano, basil, chives
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 lemon
- extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt & freshly-cracked pepper
In large serving bowl, add cooled tender peas. Finely chop the peppers and celery. Slice white/light green parts of scallions. Add to bowl. Finely chop herbs and mix into salad. Crush the garlic into the mixture. Add the juice of the lemon (seeds removed). Drizzle in about 1/4 cup olive oil, then salt and pepper to taste. Combine thoroughly and place the bowl, covered, in fridge for at least an hour. Serve cold. This actually tastes better the next day when the flavors have melded together.
Your recipes look amazing! Thank you for sharing. I can’t wait to try some of them! Prayers your back will be better soon and you and your family will continue to be protected and safe. I really enjoy your blog. Your posts are well written. Thank you!
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Thank you. I’m hoping to share some of the diversity of cultures in Israeli/Levantine cuisine as well as keeping it as healthy and simple to prepare as possible. Glad you’re enjoying it!
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