Rosh Hashanah Rubies, Beets with Pomegranates

Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 September 2010 01:26 Written by Flax Tuesday, 24 August 2010 01:08

Ok, so maybe real rubies will last for longer, but these will certainly taste better.

This dish is intended to be served at the Rosh Hashanah seder. The beets and the pomegranates are two of the foods that are blessed at the beginning of the meal.

The pomegranates are eaten with the blessing that we should be filled with mitzvot as the pomegranate is filled with seeds (sheyimlu mitzvotainu kerimon).

The blessing for the beets uses a pun based on the hebrew word for beets (selek). The word selek can mean beets or it can mean to banish. The blessing we say over the beets asks G-d to banish our enemies (sheyisalku oyvenu). This is a tradition first recorded in the Baylonian Talmud. Strangely enough, Babylonian warriors would chew on pomegranate seeds before battle, convinced that it would bring them victory over their enemy. How’s that for a food ethnography cross-culturization.

Rosh Hashanah is the season to eat pomegranates. I love pomegranates and could eat them all the time. Especially pomegranate concentrate. It is a fantastic way of sweetening food without using sugar. I use it a lot in salad dressing mixing it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Healthwise, pomegranates have quite a few health benefits. They are rich in anti-oxidants and studies show them to be beneficial in helping people with breast and prostate cancer. They prevent and help hardening of the arteries and help to lower blood pressure. Additionally, studies have shown them to help with cartilage degradation in people suffering from osteoporosis.

They are high in vitamins C, A, and E. they contain folic acid, fiber, niacin and potassium. I say that beats sugar any day of the week.


2 beets
1 onion, chopped small
1/2 cup pomegrante seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp pomegranate concentrate

Place the beets in a dutch oven. If neccesary, put a little bit of water at the bottom so that the pot won’t burn. Bake in a preheated oven (180 c) until soft, apx 1-1 1/2 hours.

Cut the beets into small cubes. Mix in the remaining ingredients. Serve cold.


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Six Super Quick meals for a 3 Day Rosh Hashanah

Last Updated on Monday, 21 May 2012 01:03 Written by Flax Monday, 23 August 2010 01:49

A three day Yom tov is never easy. Living in Israel it almost never happens. Everyone kind of panics when it does. It would be funny if I weren’t panicking along with everyone else. The way I do it is a find a few shortcuts and quick recipes to make it easier on myself. If you want you can cook all of these beautiful dishes in under two hours.

A more serious is that we just keep stuffing ourselves with food. My recomendation is to make lighter and smaller meals. There is no need to make 5 course meals with a gazillion dishes. Keep the meals simple, healthy and delicious and everyone will be satisfied (ok maybe not your mother-in-law, but that’s a whole different issue).

Always remember that soups are wonderful. They are filling, low in calories, inexpensive to make and quick. I think soups qualify as enviornmentally friendly. They conserve time, energy and money. Serve them at every meal.

The menu plan below is versatile. Some of the dishes can be made either vegetarian or with meat. The meals can be made quickly, some on the spot, so that you aren’t left with a refrigerator full of food, and they are all simple and super-quick!


Dinner 1st night:

Orange soup

Sweet Chicken and Plums
Steamed Brocolli topped with shredded carrot

Baked apple filled with honey

Lunch 1st Day

roasted garlic and parsley spread
Israeli salad
grilled vegetables

Spinach and Chickpea couscous
Fruit & Nut platter

Dinner 2nd Night

Miso Soup with Sprouts, Carrots and Noodles

Morrocan Fish

Mint Tea

Lunch 2nd Day

Cold Cherry Soup or Cold Cucumber Soup

Pie, vegetarian or turkey
Grilled Asparagus
Butternut squash

Pears Saueteed in Pomegranate Sauce

Dinner 3rd Night

Meatballs with Artichokes or Jerusalem artichokes

Mint Tea

Lunch 3rd Day

Chicken Salad
Tabouli Salad
Green Salad


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Rosh Hashanah Black Eyed Peas

Last Updated on Thursday, 1 September 2011 09:08 Written by Flax Sunday, 22 August 2010 12:25

Inevitably, at some point over the next month, Jewish women all over the world will panic.  They will all be repeating  a mantra that will probably sound something like, “The holidays are coming, all those meals, all the company coming, what on earth should I make?”  The best way to avoid this panic is to plan ahead.  This article is the first of the Elul series that will focus on foods for Rosh Hashanah, with the intent of helping all of my readers to plan ahead. I am introducing this series with a dish that is both delicious and historically fascinating.   This dish started out as a traditional Jewish Rosh Hashanah meal and over the centuries it developed into a secular New Year dish eaten by many Americans, especially in the South.

The Seder for Rosh Hashanah is first mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud. The Talmud lists foods that should be eaten on the New Year citing their ability bring good fortune.  These include the apple, pomegranate and fish head (or sheep head) found on the Ashkenazi table still as well as pumpkins, dates, leeks, black-eyed peas, and beets which are also still found on the Sephardic table.  In Israel, more and more Ashkenazi families are including this wider variety of symbols in their Rosh Hashanah Seder.  The recipe below includes four of the symbolic foods from this list; pumpkin (butternut squash)-kara, black-eyed peas-rubiya, beets (or beet leaves)-salka, and leeks-karti.

Other than that this recipe includes so many of the Rosh Hashanah simanim (symbols), what fascinates me about this dish is its history.  Following the development of this dish shows how foods and culture merge, travel, and develop their own symbolisms and traditions.  This dish, once a uniquely Jewish New Year tradition is now commonly eaten at midnight December 31, and is becoming part of mainstream American culture. One study traces this development to the Caribbean Jewish community. The African slave population in the Carribeans copied the Jewish practice of eating this dish on Rosh Hashanah and would eat it instead on the secular new year, January 1.   From the Caribbean slave population, it then moved to the slave population in the South where it stilled retained the symbolic connection to their new year. Instead of the traditional Jewish blessings however, the food was given a new symbolism, the beans representing coins and the greens representing the American dollar bills.  Apparently, the general population has either found this dish to be too delicious or the symbolism to meaningful, because over the years this tradition has spread throughout the United States and has become multi-cultural.  For me, an Ashkenazi Jew married to a Sephardic Jew, serving this dish involves a sense of Jewish nationalism and pride.  I am reclaiming an ancient tradition as well as acknowledging our long exile where the “wandering Jew” spread Jewish traditions throughout the world.  The bonus is that it is quick and easy to prepare and can feed a lot of people rather inexpensively.

There are two options below, a vegetarian option which uses mushrooms or a meat recipe which uses lamb.


  • 1 cup black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and drained
  • olive oil
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into large cubes
  • 1 bunch of beet greens or collard, sliced into large pieces
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/ inch/2 cm ginger, grated
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 bunch of coriander
  • 1 box porcini mushrooms OR 1/2 kilo of shoulder of lamb cut into cubes
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric

Use the olive oil to coat  the bottom of a large pot. Add the onion, leek, garlic, ginger and spices and saute for 1-2 minutes being careful not to burn the spices. Add the mushrooms/lamb and saute for five minutes more. Add the  beet greens and sweat them until they are limp. Add 2 cups water, the black-eyed peas, the squash and the coriander.  Cover the pot and bring the stew to a boil. Simmer closed for 30 minutes, and then uncover the pot and then continue to simmer on a low flame for another 45 minutes or until most of the water has evaporated and you are left with a thick stew.

Serve warm on a bed of rice.  Serves 6-8.


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