This year Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins at sundown October 2. Traditionally, that night family and friends share a festive meal that's really quite a feast. For Jews of Eastern European and Russian descent (Ashkenazi), an old-world inspired meal would feature round challahs, chicken soup, a slow-roasted brisket or roast chicken, sweetened roasted root vegetables that always include carrots, and a wide variety of side dishes. For Jews of North African, Near Eastern, Indian, or Middle Eastern descent (Sephardi and Mizrachi), there is often a Rosh Hashanah seder, with specific symbolic foods that are interwoven into the array of dishes.
No matter your background, the first full day (after services), families and friends gather again for informal meals that were made ahead and are often accompanied by bagels, pita bread, more challah (of course!), and plenty of dips and salads.
Here's a list of the top 25 recipes from Kitchn, ready for every Rosh Hashanah meal.
Why not start with desserts? It's a holiday about sweet foods, so let's go for it.
This recipe falls under what I call "casual cakes," meaning cakes that are perfectly suitable for Sunday brunch, afternoon tea, or any random Wednesday night when you need to fulfill a relentless cake craving without having to make something completely over the top.
These honey apple cakelets are great for any fall occasion, really, but they also happen to contain symbolic ingredients for a good and sweet Jewish New Year.
3. Carrot Halwa
Carrot halwa, also known as gajar ka halwa, is made with grated carrots, whole milk, dried fruit, and nuts, and it has a light and fudgy texture.
Fresh from the oven on a weekend morning, these kugelhopf rolls are absolute show-stoppers. And that's even before you dip them in melted butter and roll them in cinnamon and sugar!
Good carrot cakes balance many variables. They have to be sweet, yet spicy; moist, yet delicate; and beautiful, but not pretentious. Finding a recipe that embraces all of these and holds its own under a mountain of fluffy cream cheese frosting is a challenge — but we've done it!
Soups: Chicken and Beyond
This recipe is miles better than anything from a box or a can, but isn't quite so laborious as starting with a whole chicken and making stock from scratch.
This recipe is easy enough and can be adapted to accommodate any extra favorite vegetables or flavors. Obviously, you can make this same thing with chicken stock and soup.
When cooking lentil soup, stirring in something tart and tangy can add vibrancy and complexity to the earthiness of the beans. Lemon juice, yogurt, and apple cider vinegar are old standbys. Another seasonal possibility is pomegranate.
The lime and the tomato paste also brighten things up and bring the soup together. If you're craving a good pumpkin soup with warmth and a bit of spice, as I was, give this one a try.
Add these to your classic family kugels and pumpkin turnovers. Not only will they get gobbled up, but vegetarians and vegans will also have plenty of eat.
One of the remarkable things about this savory potato and leek galette is that it looks fancy, yet the ingredients are simple and inexpensive. The potatoes are plain old russets, the fat is olive oil instead of butter, and even though it's gluten-free and vegan, the galette is pleasantly starchy and creamy — a perfect cross between comfort food and an elegant, company-worthy dish.
This time of the year we are looking for easy, delicious yet not-too-heavy comfort food. Comfort food is often rich and heavy, but we think that these silky braised leeks are comforting yet light.
Butternut squash, garlic, sage, pine nuts — these are classic groupings, especially with pasta. One of the reasons that butternut squash is so good with pasta is its softness and richness; it smears through like a creamy sauce.
Composed of whole grains and seasonal vegetables and herbs, cool grain salads make a satisfying side dish. I sub the yogurt with mayo and use black-eyed peas or pigeon peas for my Jewish New Year version.
This easy slaw, dressed with a creamy blender avocado dressing, hits all the things I love about slaw; it's crunchy, tangy, and refreshing! Add two tablespoons of honey and the zest of the limes, not the juice, for a Jewish New Year version.
Asian pears, fresh dates, and pomegranates are some of early fall's jewels. We couldn't resist combining them in a fruit salad — a refreshing dessert on its own or over ice cream.
Salads, Dips and Make-Aheads
This recipe is also completely adjustable to what's in your kitchen. Have some fresh peas from the farmers market? Use those! Don't have cider vinegar? Try using red wine vinegar. Only have a green pepper and white onion? Whatever. Just don't hesitate to suit this to your taste.
The recipe makes a lot, can be served warm or cool, and keeps well, so this is the perfect make-ahead potluck dish. The sweet flavor of the roasted squash make it equally fitting to serve for brunch or a side dish at dinner.
This light and crunchy salad is such a welcome change. The sweet raisins pair exceptionally well with the spiced chickpeas for a wonderful combination of sweet and savory.
This hummus is so irresistible, both in flavor and in color — bright orange! The Moroccan spices add such a lovely dimension, too. This is the kind of warm-and-spicy flavor combination I crave as the days get shorter and chillier.
The garlic's best aromas come out overnight, and the chunks of tomatoes and olives tuck themselves into the pasta shells. The yogurt gives tang, and the ricotta is simply delicious.
Holiday entertaining means pulling out all of the stops and serving up recipes that are truly worthy of the joyous occasion. Thankfully, dazzling your friends doesn't mean you have you break the bank, or your back.
Be sure to make them into circles and serve with plenty of honey for dipping.
At its root, challah is a very straightforward bread to make. The dough is enriched with eggs and oil, while a few tablespoons of sugar add some sweetness. It doesn't require any fussy techniques and can be made from start to finish in the space of an afternoon.
Slicing into this loaf reveals swirls of sweetness and a moist, almost cake-like crumb that takes holiday tradition to delicious new heights.
Serve this quite simply with just the carrots, making it a true one-pot meal. The carrots get tender, but not mushy; they maintain the faintest bit of snap inside. But of course, you can also ladle the meat and its sauce over pasta or rice.
Never underestimate the power of a roast chicken. It's an infallible Sunday dinner — holiday or not — and the leftovers (if you're so lucky) can be used for sandwiches, salads, and quick meals all week long.