Most people I know fall into one of two camps: they either love sweet flavors with their dinners, or loathe them. Actually, there’s a third camp: people who think they couldn’t care less, but are coming around more and more to appreciate the awesomeness that is sweet + savory on the same plate. These people more often than not will tell you they’re in camp #2.
My husband is one of those people. I bet you know where I stand! And since most of my family share my tastebuds, our Rosh Hashanah dinner table has always been full of sweet things like apple raisin noodle kugel and tzimmes. Let’s just say, celebrating Rosh Hashanah with my family has not always been my husband’s best “food holiday.”
What is tzimmes? Well, it depends on who you ask. Like “kugel,” which most often refers to a casserole of savory grated potatoes or sweet noodles in a custard-y base, “tzimmes” is a fairly general term. In Yiddish it translates to “big fuss” but it can be used to describe any kind of stew, meatless or not. In my family, tzimmes has always referred to a sweet stew of orange vegetables and dried fruits, and the only big fuss about it is how much we love it.
Tzimmes is easy to make, and would be near impossible to mess up. You can play around with ingredients – leave out something you don’t like, or add something that you do. I intended to add butternut squash, but after I chopped up everything else there wasn’t enough room in the pan! It can easily be made ahead and frozen, which I did this weekend for the upcoming end-of-week holiday. This particular version is one I bookmarked over a year ago and for whatever reason hadn’t gotten to make till now. I was drawn to it for the abundance of dried fruits and the use of Riesling. It can be a bit time consuming to peel and chop all of the vegetables depending on how much tzimmes you’re making, but that’s the most difficult thing about it. Now, how much should you make? Perhaps not as much as I did. I prepared enough to fill my huge roasting pan and then divided it into two 9″x13″ casserole dishes – one to bring to my parents’ house for our Rosh Hashanah eve meal and another to serve at my house on Thursday afternoon. Each gathering will have around 15 people, so I wanted to make sure there was plenty of tzimmes to eat, and have leftover. Trust me, you’ll want leftovers. Especially if you’re one of those people who think you don’t like sweets with meals, you might enjoy a bowl of tzimmes with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert later. This dish does double duty!
It didn’t surprise me that when Ben took a few bites as the tzimmes was cooling, he actually admitted to liking it. I knew he was coming around
To all who are celebrating Rosh Hashanah this week, may your dinner table be full of sweetness and your upcoming year alive with health and happiness. Shana Tovah!
Sweet Rosh Hashanah Tzimmes
Adapted from The Boston Globe, April 2009
Servings: a lot! (feel free to scale it down)
1 cup pitted prunes, halved
1 cup dried pitted dates, halved
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried cherries
2 lbs carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
5 extra-large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
8 Bosc pears, peeled and cut into chunks (apples work too)
about 3 cups orange juice
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
In a large bowl, combine all of the dried fruits. Pour enough wine and brandy over the fruit just to cover it; about 3/4 wine and 1/4 brandy. Let sit for one hour.
Meanwhile, peel and chop the carrots, sweet potatoes, and pears, and toss together in a large roasting pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups of orange juice with the honey and cinnamon. Pour over the vegetables. Add the fruits with their soaking liquid and toss to combine. If you think more liquid is needed, add the third cup of orange juice.
Cover tightly with foil and bake for 90 minutes in a preheated 350ºF oven, stirring halfway through. Remove foil and roast for another 30 minutes, until vegetables are tender. (Note: smaller quantities will require less cooking time.)
PS: Even though I have labeled this dish as “something I really should not be eating”, it’s actually fairly healthy as far as holiday far goes. It’s free of dairy and refined sugar and it’s gluten free too, so there’s a good chance it will please all of your special guests! For more healthy holiday food, check out Ricki’s roundup.
This post is also linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.