My sweet gourd

Freshly har­vested fruits and veg­eta­bles make Suc­cot a joy­ous fes­ti­val, says RuthJoseph

The Jewish Chronicle - - Features -

SUC­CAH I S A j oyous oc­ca­sion, de­scribed in Jewish lit­er­a­ture as z’man sim­chateinu – the Sea­son of Our Re­joic­ing. But it is also the Har­vest fes­ti­val. What bet­ter time to visit a lo­cal farm­ers’ mar­ket and be in­spired by lo­cally grown cau­li­flower (won­der­ful steamed and lay­ered with kosher moz­zarella); fresh beet­root for a haimishe borscht; parsnips ready for roast­ing with a lit­tle grated fresh gin­ger and honey; along­side swedes, cele­riac and an ar­ray of pota­toes.

Then there are ap­ples, pears and plums – all Bri­tish – de­li­cious to eat, raw or cooked. Whether you build a suc­cah or not, you can cre­ate lus­cious dishes to en­joy at your Yom­tov ta­ble.

Round pump­kins are an im­por­tant mo­tif in Ju­daism — their shape sym­bol­ises a good life , their golden colour rem­i­nis­cent of coins. They are also the base of a colour­ful soup served in a shell that dou­bles up as a dra­matic con­tainer.

For 6-8 por­tions and sec­ond help­ings, se­lect a very large pump­kin that is heavy for its size. Cut a lid off the top and save. Scoop out the flesh; check that a large Pyrex bowl will fit in the cav­ity. Sweat two large peeled and roughly chopped onions with a dessert­spoon of olive oil. When the onions are soft, add 500g, 1lb 2oz of peeled chopped car­rots and 500g, 1lb 2oz cleaned pota­toes cut into rough chunks, and cook un­til ten­der, ap­prox 25 min­utes adding the pump­kin flesh for the last 10 min­utes, with 2.4 litres, 4 pints stock — veg­etable or chicken.

Then process with 25g, 1oz, of fresh pars­ley, freshly milled salt and pep­per and a tea­spoon of pa­prika or cumin. Add a lit­tle more stock if nec­es­sary. To serve, add the soup, gar­nish with more pars­ley and re­place the lid.

Fol­low per­haps with spicy roasted veg­eta­bles with a twist. For 4-6 peo­ple, pre­heat oven 200°C, 400°F gas mark 6. Peel, de-seed and cut one small but­ter­nut squash into chunks. Peel and cut two red onions, each into eight wedges. Clean two large or­ganic leeks, and four large or­ganic car­rots peeled and cut in thick di­ag­o­nals. Rub the veg­eta­bles with two dessert spoons of olive oil, 1 tea­spoon cin­na­mon, gin­ger and pa­prika, splash over 75ml, 3oz ap­prox stock, red or white wine roast­ing for ½ hour in a moderate oven.

Add a well-drained and rinsed tin of chick­peas (op­tional) and cook for an­other 15 min­utes. Serve with cous­cous

My hus­band’s favourite Sephardic- style recipe is a whole but­ter­nut squash cut in half with the flesh scooped out and sauteed with a mix­ture of fried onions, cooked green lentils, part-cooked rice, a hand­ful of cur­rants, roasted pine-nuts, a lit­tle chopped dill, plenty of chopped co­rian­der, some cin­na­mon and a lit­tle Kid­dush wine.

If you pre­fer you can add some leftover cooked meat or chicken to this fra­grant dish. Stuff the cav­i­ties with the mix­ture. Cover with foil and bake for an hour in a moderate oven, Gas mark 4, 180°C, 350°F un­til veg­eta­bles are ten­der. Serve with a rich tomato sauce. For dessert, baked ap­ples or plums are de­li­cious stuffed with chopped stem gin­ger and a hand­ful of sul­tanas. Per­haps this year try my hol­ishkes, for a tra­di­tional Suc­cot that your grand­mother might have pre­pared.

Tra­di­tional round pump­kins are an im­por­tant mo­tif in Ju­daism and make the per­fect Suc­cot veg­etable

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