If you celebrate the Jewish New Year, here are Rosh Hashanah food ideas including menu inspiration for main course, desserts, sides and more. Even if you are rushing around at the last minute, there are lots of tips and tricks to help you make food the center of your celebration.
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Rosh Hashanah Food Planning and Preparation
Despite lofty aspirations to have all menu planning, shopping and some cooking completed early, I usually rush around at the last minute to prepare for our annual Jewish New Year gathering.
Guessing that I am not the only who finds herself in this situation, I’ve put together recipes, tips, and tricks to make your last-minute rush to prepare a little less frantic.
Rosh Hashanah Main Courses
Jewish Brisket Recipes
If brisket is part of your Rosh Hashanah menu, my recipes are tried and true methods that easily feed hungry, temple-weary eaters. And remember, you can prepare brisket several days in advance or freeze it for several weeks.
Jewish New Year Chicken Recipes
Rather serve chicken? Chicken also can be made ahead of time and frozen or you can prep your chicken in the roasting pan in the morning or a day ahead, and just cook it right before dinner. Here are several recipes to try:
Roast a whole chicken as described in this fun post:
OR try this variation using roasted grapes and shallots. I have prepared this recipe many times with both chicken pieces and a whole chicken. The flavor of the grapes, shallots and thyme mingled with the chicken juices is intoxicating. Grapes are still front and center in the early fall so it’s a wonderful seasonal option.
Vegetarian Options for Rosh Hashanah Dinner
Offer hummus (homemade or store-bought) with fresh salads – perhaps one leafy, one vegetable based and one grain-based. All of these dishes do double duty as sides for your meat eaters as well. Want to serve something hot? How about a hearty soup or vegetable wellington -- both are always a huge hit at Thanksgiving but work anytime of the year.
Rosh Hashanah Round Challah Recipes
Challah in the round is the traditional bread during Rosh Hashanah – the circular loaf symbolizes the cycle of the seasons and life. You can make your regular challah recipe and just prepare it in the round. You can also augment with a touch of honey or some raisins and cinnamon. Here are three recipes – one is traditional, the other is a no-rise method that you can prepare even when you are short on time and the third is a challah roll recipe I developed during the pandemic and is included in my new book!
But if baking is just not an option, Trader Joe’s usually carries some excellent challah. Check other local stores like Whole Foods or your nearest bakery -- you might find they are carrying the special round loaves as well.
Kugels - Sweet and Savory - for the High Holidays
Want a savory kugel? My potato kugel, freshened up with some za'atar (or thyme) and fresh carrots and parsley will feed a crowd easily. The year I developed this recipe and served it at our annual dinner, not a morsel was left.
Traditional sweet noodle kugels with or without cheese (depending on your desire to keep the meal strictly kosher) are often served at Rosh Hashanah or for break the fast at the end of Yom Kippur. They are also a big hit with picky kid eaters in the mix.
Apples and Honey for a Sweet New Year
Apples and honey are traditionally eaten as a symbol of a sweet new year. They are also the simplest of appetizers or desserts to offer your guests. Add some extra interest to your platter by trying a new variety of apple from the farmers' market or a local raw honey. Still just as simple to serve but a chance to experience some new flavors and textures.
Side Dishes for Rosh Hashana Meals
Pomegranates are a fall fruit and also symbolize good deeds. They are a wonderful addition to your Rosh Hashanah meal - from a decoration on your table to all the delicious dishes you can create using the seeds, the juice, and the derivatives you can make from the juice - like syrup and molasses. Check out my pomegranate molasses page and Family Spice's pomegranate page for lots and lots of ideas for seasonal pomegranates.
Figs are also in season in late summer and fall - don't forget the figs! And they pair well with pomegranate.
Rosh Hashanah Desserts
The classic choice is a honey cake or an apple cake. Figs and pomegranates are also stars at this holiday. But since I am all about learning the tradition and then riffing from it, I developed a pear cake recipe.
Or just slice up some figs and drizzle a bit of honey on them and call it dessert – no one will complain!
And think about short cuts – poached or baked apples would be an easy make ahead option. Sprinkle them with some pomegranate seeds and they’ll be gorgeous! Or throw together an apple strudel by using puff pastry – a quick and easy way to prepare a hot-out-of-the-oven dessert without much advanced preparation (see the recipe in my book, pg. 52).
I hope these ideas turn your rush into Rosh Hashanah into a calmer, peaceful, sweet start to the new year.
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