Simanim for Rosh Hashanah

On Rosh Hashanah many families have the custom to eat a variety of symbolic foods. Some stick with just basic items like apples dipped in honey and sweet carrot tzimmes, while others families have a whole “Seder” of foods that they eat during the Yom Tov seudah. Each carries its own traditions and mystical meanings. Depending on your heritage and family traditions, you probably prepare your own time-honored recipes.

Apples are eaten because the aroma of apples is that of Gan Eden, the place to which we hope to return. “Kra” means gourds, which are not actually edible, so we eat squash which is a member of the gourd family. The word “kra” means to tear, as we hope to have any bad decrees torn up. “Karsi” means leeks and sounds like the word “kares,” to cut off — something we hope happens to those who wish us ill. “Silka” — beets or spinach — sounds like the word for remove — how we hope Hashem handles our enemies. “Rubia,” meaning carrots or black-eyed peas, are eaten to symbolize an increase in our good points. Carrots are called “meren” in Yiddish, once again reminding Hashem of our many good deeds. Pomegranates with their myriad seeds are eaten to signify many merits.

Some families stick with only those foods their grandparents ate on Rosh Hashanah while others add new symbols seen at the Yom Tov tables of friends and neighbors. Incorporating some of these foods into wonderful Yom Tov dishes is an excellent way of adding to our traditions.

Pomegranate Apple Salad

For the dressing:

  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • ½ small onion
  • ½ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

For the salad:

  • 1 10-oz. bag checked romaine lettuce
  • 1 pomegranate, seeded
  • 1 green apple, thinly sliced
  • 1 mango, diced

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine juice, sugar, salt, dry mustard and onion. After the ingredients are well blended, slowly add in oil.
Pour dressing ingredients into a jar. Add poppy seeds and shake well. Store in the refrigerator until needed.

Combine lettuce, pomegranate seeds, mango and apples in a salad bowl. Just before serving, drizzle some of the dressing on the salad and toss.

Tzimmes may be made exclusively with carrots or may include other vegetables and even chicken or meat. The word has come to mean any kind of sweet stew. It usually is orange in color, and includes carrots, sweet potatoes or butternut squash and prunes. A wide variety of dishes fall under the heading of “tzimmes.”

Savory Tzimmes

  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cubed
  • 2 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup small pitted prunes
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 8 dark chicken cutlets (boneless)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ¼ cup orange juice

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place carrots, squash, prunes, garlic, shallots, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix well. Transfer to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Place chicken on top of the vegetables. Mix broth and orange juice in a small bowl and pour over the chicken. Cover the baking dish with foil.

Bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through, basting often, about 1 hour more.

We’ve combined black-eyed peas and spinach to create a delicious dish that features two of the simanim of the day.

Black-Eyed Peas With Spinach

  • 1 lb. dried black-eyed peas
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 4–5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 lb. bag frozen spinach, thawed

Rinse and drain peas. Boil peas in 4 cups water for half an hour or until tender. Set aside.

Squeeze out excess water from thawed spinach.

In a large skillet, heat oil and sauté onions until translucent. Add garlic and spinach. Add black-eyed peas. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The next recipe comes to us from the recipe contest conducted last winter by Hamodia. It was one of our winning recipes and it’s still popular with our friends and family.

Onion Leek Tart

  • 1 8-oz. sheet package puff pastry
  • 2 large Spanish onions
  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 2 stalks leek, white bulb part only
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 400° F. Cut puff pastry sheet in half to fit a 9 x 13 inch pan or long rectangular tart pan. Line the pan with parchment paper. Place the dough in the pan and prick all over with a fork. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Turn down oven to 350°.

Cut onions and leeks into cubes. In a large sauté pan heat oil and add onions and leeks. Cover and sauté until translucent, stirring occasionally. Turn off the flame and cool. Add the eggs, flour and spices. Mix until well combined. Cook once more for 10 minutes until the flour is cooked through. Cool once more. Spread leek mixture over the baked flaky dough and spread until ½ inch from the edges. Roll out the second sheet of dough and cut into ¼ inch strips and form a lattice design. Alternately, use a lattice roller to cut the lattice. Place lattice over the filling. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Return to oven and bake for 1 hour. Serves 8–10.