Sukkot is called the Jewish Thanksgiving. It offers thanks for the bountiful harvest of fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains. Jewish families begin building their sukkah the day after Yom Kippur. These outside shelters -- decorated with Jewish New Year greeting cards, fruit and sheaths of grain -- resemble the small huts that field workers lived in during the harvest season in ancient times.
Traditionally the food is carried to the sukkah table from the home kitchen, and casserole dishes and tureens of hot soup are popular menu choices. Fruits and vegetables of the season and whole grains are used in their preparation.
This year, my Sukkot menu will include a savory Leek and Potato Soup. The classic pairing of leeks and potatoes makes a delicious low-fat soup that tastes rich and creamy yet it contains no dairy products. Serve with a grain bread or rolls, made from whole-wheat flour.
The main course, Glazed Old-Fashioned Meatloaf, one of our family favorites, is a perfect dish for Sukkot. The ground meat is combined with sautéed vegetables and the mixture is molded around whole hard cooked eggs. It is shaped into a loaf, and baked like a casserole in a rich Tomato-Wine Sauce. For individual meat loaves, divide the ground mixture into desired portions, place half of a hard-boiled egg in the center and bake as directed.
Lemon desserts are a perfect choice for Sukkot, since the lemon is the modern-day counterpart of the etrog, or citron, an important symbol that is used during the Sukkot holiday. Include a platter of Frosted Lemon Cookies with whatever dessert your serve.
Leek and Potato Soup
Since the vegetables can be grated and chopped in the food processor this is a great soup to make when time is short. To give it more body, puree some of the vegetables in the food processor after they are cooked. Double the recipe and freeze half for a day when you're too busy to cook.
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped into 1/4-inch dice
4 medium leeks, white and tender green leaves, cleaned and trimmed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
2 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
7 cups vegetable stock or cold water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a food processor fitted with the steel blade or on a wooden board using a sharp knife, chop the garlic, onion and leeks.
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and sauté the garlic mixture with the carrot and potatoes until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and gently boil, partially covered for about 20 minutes.
The soup can be served at this point or, for a thicker, smoother soup, remove from the heat, ladle 2 cups into a food processor and blend until smooth. Return the pureed soup to the saucepan and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer.
To serve, ladle the soup into shallow bowls.
From "The 30-Minute Kosher Cook" by Judy Zeidler.
Glazed Old-Fashioned Meatloaf
Tomato-Wine Sauce (recipe follows)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cup finely chopped green onions
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/4 cup each diced red and yellow bell peppers
4 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 cup ketchup
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 pound lean ground veal, turkey or chicken
1/2 cup bread crumbs
6 hard-cooked eggs
Prepare the Tomato-Wine Sauce and set aside.
In a heavy skillet, heat olive oil and add onions, green onions, celery, red and yellow peppers and garlic. Cook, stirring often, about 10 minutes or until moisture from vegetables has evaporated. Cool.
In a mixing bowl, blend eggs, salt, pepper, cayenne and cumin. Beat well and add 1/4 cup ketchup. Blend thoroughly.
In a large bowl, place beef and veal and add chilled vegetables and egg mixture. Mix thoroughly. Add breadcrumbs and knead until well-blended.
Dampen fingers and palms of hands and shape half of the meat into a flat loaf on top of the cooled sauce in the roaster. Place thehard-boiled eggs, lengthwise, along the center of the molded meat loaf. Mold the remaining meat mixture on top of the eggs, pressing to make a firm loaf, resembling a long loaf of bread. Spoon the remaining 1/2 cup ketchup on top of the meat loaf.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until meat is cooked through.
Makes 1 large or 2 medium loaves.
Serves about 16.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 (16-ounce) can peeled tomatoes, with liquid, chopped
1 cup dry red wine
1 head garlic
In a large roaster, heat olive oil and sauté onions until soft. Add tomatoes with liquid, wine and simmer for about 5 minutes. Separate garlic cloves, do not peel and add to sauce. Makes about 3 cups.
Frosted Lemon Cookies
1 cup unsalted nondairy margarine
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
Grated peel of 1 lemon
1 cup toasted ground walnuts or pecans
Lemon Icing (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 300F.
In the large bowl of electric mixer, cream margarine and sugar together until well-blended. Add flour and beat until crumbly and moist. Blend in nuts.
Divide dough into four portions; on floured board, knead each
portion into ball. With palm of hand press each ball into smooth flat disc 1/4- to 1/3-inch thick. Cut into rounds and cut each round in half. Arrange cookies on greased foil-lined baking sheet in symmetrical rows to economize space. Leave space to allow for spreading. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on racks. Decorate with Lemon Icing.
1 1/8 cups powdered sugar
1 egg white, unbeaten
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon vanilla
In the bowl of electric mixer, combine sugar, egg white, lemon juice and vanilla. Beat at low speed until sugar is dissolved. Then beat at high speed until mixture is light and fluffy. Cover with damp towel until ready to use.