The Jewish holiday of Sukkot celebrates the Fall Harvest. We are told to sleep, eat, and relax outdoors in our sukkah. Sukkot also celebrates the time when farmers have completed their harvest and are able to indulge in some relaxation before the first rains of the season hit. This holiday inherently relates to the environment, where we are gathering our seasonal fall produce from. Sukkot celebrates our seasonal food gatherings and the environment, hence during this holiday we should be more mindful of the impact that our celebrations have on the world around us.
“Branch” Out. Invite your favorite farmer into your sukkah for a meal and ask him/her how the harvest went. Don’tknow a farmer? Go to a local farmers market for some produce and congratulate one of the farmers there on a job well done. Even better, find out where a local farm is and go straight to the source for some seasonal goodies.
Meditate. Take the time to recite blessings before and after every meal during Sukkot and think about all of the hard work and resources that went in to bringing the food to your table.
Green Sukkah Contest.Team up with other members of your congregation to have a “who can build the greenest sukkah?” competition. How many recycled, creative items, can you and your team incorporate into your sukkah decorations? You and your congregation choose what reward would be most suitable for you to offer the contest winners! You can get ideas from the Sukkah City Contest based in Union Square, New York City which was held in 2010.
Roasted Carrot and Fennel Soup
Recipe originally taken from The Jew and the Carrot
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1½ pounds carrots
- 1 fennel bulb; discard the stalks, but reserve the fronds
- 2 Tbsps olive oil, divided
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 4 cups vegetable broth, plus one additional cup of broth or water
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- Sea salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Cut the fennel bulb in half, lengthwise, and then into half-inch-thick wedges. Peel and slice the carrots into quarter-inch rounds. In a large bowl, toss the carrots and fennel with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and several grinds of sea salt and black pepper. Spread the carrots and fennel evenly on a lined baking sheet, and slide into the oven for approximately 30 minutes, stirring once or twice along the way, until browned and tender.
While the carrots and fennel are roasting, toast the fennel seeds in a small pan over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until the aroma rises and they turn lightly brown. Grind the seeds to bits with a mortar and pestle. Coarsely chop the onion.
In a large, heavy pot, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and ground fennel seeds, and cook until the onion softens and turns slightly translucent. Turn the heat to low, add the tomato paste, and stir to incorporate. Remove the carrots and fennel from the oven, and add them to the pot together with four cups of vegetable broth. Bring the soup to a simmer, and turn off the heat.
Puree the soup in batches in a blender. Be careful – it’s hot! Wrap the top of the blender in a dish towel before blending to protect against any leaks. Chill the soup overnight, and reheat before serving.
Note: The soup will thicken as it cools. Add up to one additional cup of vegetable broth or water before reheating to thin it. Taste, season with salt and pepper, if necessary, and garnish each bowl with chopped fennel fronds.
Parsley and Pine Nut Cous Cous
Recipe originally from The Jew and the Carrot
- 1 cup of couscous (I prefer whole wheat)
- 2 Tablespoons pine nuts
- A small handful of parsley, enough for 2 Tablespoons, chopped
- 1 Teaspoon olive oil
- A few swipes of lemon zest (optional)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 ½ cups of water
On Thursday night or Friday morning, prepare your mise en place:
Measure the cup of couscous into a bowl and cover. Toast the tablespoons of pine nuts over medium heat in a small, nonstick pan until the fragrance rises and they turn light brown. Pine nuts burn easily, so push or shake them around the pan every so often, and watch them carefully. Once they have cooled, store the toasted pine nuts in an airtight container at room temperature.
Wash, thoroughly dry, and chop the parsley. Store the chopped parsley in a sealed airtight container in the fridge.
On Friday afternoon, heat the water in a small saucepan. When the water in the saucepan boils, dump in the couscous, stir, cover, and turn off the heat. Wait five minutes.
Uncover the couscous, fluff with a fork, drizzle with the olive oil, and cover once again. Stir in the toasted pine nuts, chopped parsley, lemon zest (if using), and salt and pepper just before serving.
Recipe originally from The Jew and the Carrot
- 1 pound (2 cups) creamy cottage cheese
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 cup Farina or Cream of Wheat cereal
- 4 tablespoons soft butter or margarine
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- About 2 dozen ripe whole prunes, plums or apricots or 12 medium peaches or nectarines
Chef’s note: The amount of fruit will depend greatly on the size of the peaches, nectarines and plums. I used unusually large peaches and plums, and the recipe yielded 8 (very large) dumplings.
Wash fruit well, checking for stems, and dry carefully. In a large bowl, mix the cottage cheese, sugar, salt and uncooked Farina (or cream of wheat).
Add the softened butter and beaten eggs and mix thoroughly. Gradually add flour to form a dough that can be worked around the fruit.
Tear away a piece of dough and roll it in the palms of your hands to form a ball. The dough will be quite sticky, so keep your hands coated in flour throughout the process. It also helps to keep a thin layer of flour on the surface you’re working on.
Pat dough flat to about 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick and large enough to wrap around a piece of fruit. Place fruit in the center of dough and bring dough together, pinching and sealing edges well to avoid any open seams, holes or thin spots.
When you have about 6 to 8 fruit dumplings ready, place dumplings into a large pot of boiling water. Lower gently with a slotted spoon, making sure they aren’t crowded. Boil gently for at least 20 minutes, longer depending on size of fruit. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking to bottom of pan. Gradually, dumplings will rise and swell in size.
Remove dumplings with slotted spoon, and add remainder of prepared dumplings into boiling water. (More water may have to be added to cover dumplings).
Serve dumplings warm, spread with melted butter and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar Cottage cheese or crème fraiche on the side make a nice accompaniment.
Recipe originally from The Jew and the Carrot
Yields 4 small jars of marmalade
- 3 or 4 etrogim
- 1 lemon
- 1 tangerine
- 1 4-inch piece of fresh ginger root
- an equivalent amount of sugar to the quantity of cooked fruit (I used around 4 cups)
- 1 package of pectin
Cut etrogim, tangerine, and lemon into quarters and slice thinly. Remove and save the seeds in a bowl with 1/2 cup water. Put fruit slices in another bowl and cover with water. Cover each bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 24 hours at room temperature.
The next day, pour out the water from the bowl of fruit slices (which will have absorbed some of the bitterness from the pith – etrogim are very pithy!) and put the fruits in a saucepan with new water to cover. Tie the seeds in a small piece of cheese cloth, and add them and their water (which may be viscous) to saucepan. Bring to a simmer, and simmer, covered, for at least 45 minutes. Remove the cheesecloth bag and squeeze it into the pot to get the last drops of the natural pectin released by the seeds.
Remove the saucepan from heat. Decant its contents and measure the quantity of fruit. Then add the fruit back to the liquid, and add a quantity of sugar to match the quantity of fruit. Once the sugar is well-blended, taste the proto-marmalade and see if it suits you. Add more sugar to taste as needed.
Peel ginger root; grate the peeled root, and squeeze the resulting ginger fluff to yield ginger juice. Add ginger juice to the pan and stir in, blending well. Bring the proto-marmalade to a boil, and add pectin, stirring vigorously. Stir in sugar, and keep cooking over moderate heat, stirring occasionally and skimming off any foam, until mixture visibly gels on a cold spoon. (If this doesn’t happen reasonably quickly, try plan B: turn heat up to high and cook, stirring all the while, until the syrup reaches 220 degrees F, at which point it should set immediately if spooned onto a cold plate.)
Pack in sterile jelly jars with sterile new lids. (First time canners like myself can check here for a great starting place for understanding exactly how this process works.) Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes. If any jars fail to seal, refrigerate them. Enjoy!
Reprinted with permission from Rachel Barenblat.
Celebrate the Harvest Season by Eating Local. Don’t want to cut out meat? Use only local, organic meat. In addition, replace one of your favorite imported foods with a local delicacy. Also, think about the food you normally eat during one week and calculate how far that food travels to get to your plate. During the week of Sukkot, try to cut those miles in half.
Drink Organic Wine
Sukkot should be a time of rejoicing. Say “L’Chaim” over organic wine and/or other locally distilled or brewed beverages.
Visit the Hazon Food Guide for Kosher Sustainable Meat and Wine Suggestions.
Go Vegetarian! Celebrate the bounty of the harvest by eating a vegetarian diet during the week of Sukkot.
Host a Sustainable Sukkot Meal
It is a mitzvah to eat in the sukkah on the first night of Sukkot. Host a sustainable Sukkot meal and invite your guests to bring dishes that include local, sustainable ingredients.
Bake Sustainable Challah!
Bake your own sustainable challah! Use organic flour that was harvested within 200 miles; local, organic eggs; and local honey instead of sugar. For recipes for sustainable challah, check out The Jew & The Carrot.
Reuse and Recycle
Commit to using only reusable or recyclable plates and cutlery in your Sukkah. In addition, recycle your lulav and etrog! Here are some creative ideas on ways to reuse your lulav and etrog.
Host a Sustainable Kiddush in the Sukkah
Serve local apples and honey; salads made of seasonal produce; and egg salad made out of local, organic eggs.
Use Sukkot as an opportunity to start composting. Start your parsley plants on Tu B’shvat with the soil you produce from your Sukkot scraps!
Take the Sukkot Locavore Challenge
Eat only local foods on the Shabbat during Sukkot. Want a bigger challenge? Include the first and last days of Sukkot. Want to take it a step further? Commit to eating only foods produced within 250 miles for the entire week of Sukkot. Sign up for NOFA’s Locavore challenge.
Check out this resource from Kibbutz Lotan for ideas for how to make a Sukkot a green holiday, and suggestions for the key to success for your green sukkah competition!
Suggestions from Fair Trade Judaica:
- Decorate your sukkah with fair trade banners, textiles, and rugs
- Use fair trade coffee, tea, and chocolate in your Sukkot meals
My Jewish Learning - Sukkot 101
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