With all the hype about Thanksgivukkah this year, I also received a challenge to post something that would be perfect for both Thanksgiving and Hanukkah - and it had to be made with some type of mashed food. I normally panic when I get this kind of requests, but this time it was really brainless. These pumpkin fritters are one of my favorite recipes, and always a huge hit with guests.
This October my column in the Jewish Week featured a recipe for butternut squash manicotti with goat cheese and pumpkin. But there are so many versions of these, that I couldn't resist posting one more! After all, for the past few weeks, I've been in a pumpkin frenzy. This time, I also added red radicchio, and a touch of Moscato wine. The result is slightly bitter, slightly sweet; buttery, creamy, and totally worth the splurge.
This month I really spaced and forgot to post my recipe for my friends' Linkup! Ops!
The theme is "Spread The Joy", because everybody loves receiving home-made goodies. Enjoy these easy Jewish Italian Pumpkin (or butternut squash) treats: an old Jewish italian recipe perfect for this season!
(above, Sukkot seen by Italian artist Emanuele Luzzati)Between Yom Kippur and Sukkot , those observant Jews who have the space construct a sukkah in their backyards or decks (in cities like Manhattan or Venice with a lot of small apartments, it's normal to just share meals in the synagogue’s sukkah). In ancient times most people would just “move” to their sukkas for the whole holiday and even sleep there: nowadays few do, especially in colder climates, but it’s still customary to eat meals in the hut, or at least snacks, reciting a special blessing. Since Sukkot celebrates the harvest, there is a custom of waving the etrog and lulav: (a kind of citron, similar to a big lemon/lime, and a bunch of myrtle,willow and palm twigs). The lulav and etrog are waved in all directions representing God’s power over the whole creation. All kids love decorating the sukkah with drawings, and mine are no exception! As a fall harvest holiday, Sukkot celebrates the bounty of the new crops, and its food traditions revolve around seasonal vegetables and fruit. In this sense, some believe that the pilgrims may have come up with the idea of Thanksgiving inspired by the Biblical descriptions of Sukkot: after all, the Puritan Christians had landed on American shores in search of a place where they would finallly be free to worship as they pleased - a recurrent theme in Jewish history. Besides, just like the ancient Israelites, the pilgrims also had to dwell in makeshift huts (built with the help of the Indians) during their first cold winter in Massachusetts! That's why so many of you, unfamiliar with Jewish traditions, will immediately notice how Thanksgiving's culinary themes mirror those of Sukkot. All kinds of vegetables and fruit grace our tables, together with stuffed pies and pastries: stuffing one food inside another is in fact another metaphor for abundance. Many of these symbolic foods have already appeared on our Rosh haShana table, often in the form of a seder (served in a specific order and reciting blessings on each one). Among these seasonal offerings, both the pumpkin and pomegranate stand out: in Venice we like our favorite local variety of pumpkin so much that we call it "suca baruca" (from the Hebrew "baruch", "blessed / holy pumpkin"); as to pomegranate, it is so important in the Jewish tradition that Torah scrolls are decorated with silver ones - apparently because this fruit contains more or less 613 seeds, the number of the Mitzvot (commandments) that Jews are given to observe. Why not combine these two symbols into a super-pretty and super-festive soup? Ingredients (serves 4)
- 2 lbs cubed pumpkin
- 1 medium onion, very finely chopped
- vegetable stock
- 1/2 orange (or 1/3 cup orange juice)
- 1 pomegranate (or 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds plus 1/3 cup pomegranate juice)
- 3 tablespoons mild extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 or 3 tablespoons coarsely ground hazelnuts (optional)