Rosh Hashanah, one of the most joyful holidays in the Jewish calendar, , is also one of the most delicious. Food symbolism abounds in Judaism, and the New Year is no exception. Apples and honey are de rigueur, of course, but a meal they do not make. Use this guide to pick and choose recipes for your holiday feast, whether you want to go traditional or get a little creative. No matter your choice, it will certainly be a sweet start to the new year.
It’s not a Jewish holiday without matzo ball soup. The ultimate simple and nourishing comfort food is one of the best — and most traditional — ways to start a festive meal. If you make your own chicken soup, you can freeze it ahead of time so there’s less to do on the big day.
Not feeling matzo balls? Then turn to another traditional Rosh Hashanah food, beets. Selek, the Hebrew word for beets, is similar to the verb “to remove,” so consuming beets on the new year symbolizes the hope that adversaries or obstacles will be removed from our lives. This soup has apples in it and you can use honey in place of the brown sugar if you want to go all in on the holiday symbolism. You can also go with simple roasted beets.
From Shabbat to the holidays, challah is a crucial part of Jewish food culture and the Rosh Hashanah table. For the new year, it’s typical to make round challahs to represent the cyclical nature of the calendar. Feel free to add raisins for a sweet touch.
For a fall-friendly bread that truly speaks to the symbolism of Rosh Hashanah, try this apple butter challah. It incorporates both apples and honey into the bread for a sweet and special treat. If you want to take it over the top, make your own apple butter for the filling.
Although tzimmes can be found at many holiday tables, this sweet root veggie side is most commonly associated with Rosh Hashanah. If you want to go the extra mile, slice the carrots into coins to represent the hope for prosperity in the new year. Roasted caramelized carrots make a great alternative if tzimmes isn’t your cup of tea.
Add a taste of the Holy Land to your holiday table with this easy homemade hummus. Serve it with raw veggies for dipping as a snack before the big meal or pass it alongside everything else.
If you’re struggling to pick an interesting side and don’t want to go with plain rice or potatoes, try mujadara. This Middle Eastern specialty combines rice, lentils and caramelized onions for a flavorful dish that will complement any number of mains. Saffroned barley is another fun grain option.
This Brussels sprouts recipe features a coating of dried basil and thyme for the savory elements while apples and quince or pear add sweet-tart notes that are just right for Rosh Hashanah. If you prefer your Brussels in salad form, consider a Brussels sprout salad with pear and pomegranate.
For the Herb Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Quince recipe, click here.
To bring a burst of nutrition to the table, include this kale and apple salad that looks as beautiful as it tastes. Don’t skimp on the pomegranate and pistachios. You can use honey instead of maple syrup in the dressing if you want to skew traditional. For a different take on this combo, try an apple kale slaw, which makes great leftovers.
If cruciferous kale isn’t your thing, opt for a base of baby spinach. Sliced apples, red onion, mushrooms and dried fruit upgrade this salad by adding color and textural contrast.
Is it a Jewish holiday without brisket? Of course, that depends, but many would say no. If you’re short on bandwidth, then slow-cooker brisket with just 10 minutes of prep is the way to go. But if you want a truly elegant centerpiece, this robust, sweet, tart and savory version that is braised low and slow in the oven is more than worthwhile.
Roast chicken makes a great main for weeknights and holidays alike, but it’s extra fun when it’s coated in everything bagel seasoning. Want even more of, well, everything? Serve everything roasted cauliflower, too. If you prefer to stick with the sweet theme, apricot glazed chicken is a good bet.
If you prefer to go the pareve or pescatarian route, salmon is an easy and popular option for a crowd. Here, salmon is coated in a mixture of orange juice, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, ginger and garlic before being baked.
Who doesn’t love a little bubbly to start the new year? Instead of the usual OJ, this recipe mixes apple cider and Prosecco for an autumnal treat. A pumpkin-spice rim adds a layer of flavor and an apple slice makes the perfect garnish. If you prefer something harder, try the cider mill cocktail instead.
If a tree falls in an empty forest, does it make a sound? And if you don’t eat apple cake on Rosh Hashanah, have you even celebrated? This is a fairly traditional recipe with layers of fresh apple and batter baked in a bundt pan. If you don’t like chunks of apple in your cake, then an applesauce spice cake will solve that problem.
Baklava is the perfect Rosh Hashanah dessert and a fun alternative to apple cake. The honey-soaked pastry, made of layers of phyllo dough, is a sweet treat you may not think to make at home. But once you do, it will earn a permanent place at your celebrations.
If you’re serving a dairy meal or don’t keep kosher, this honey lavender ice cream is a special way to end a special holiday meal. Be sure to plan ahead so you have time to fully chill it. As a big bonus, this dessert won’t heat up the kitchen or take up valuable oven space as you’re trying to prepare the rest of the meal.
Burekas are typically savory, filled with everything from cheese to tuna. But with this recipe, the pastry takes a sweet turn with an apple pie filling and tahini-and-date-syrup drizzle. It’s a true Israeli-American mash-up of flavors and a fun way to ring in the new year. If this doesn’t take the cake, there are plenty of other amazing dessert recipes to make at home.
More from The Daily Meal: