Sukkot is a complex Jewish tradition that can look a little confusing to outsiders. Building a temporary shelter or hut in your backyard may draw some puzzled glances from your neighbors, but it's a powerful way to connect with your roots and remind yourself of the bounty of the harvest season.
For people who are always looking for a reason to throw a dinner party, it gives you a great excuse for moving the dinner table outdoors to enjoy the beautiful fall weather. Learn more about the culinary side of Sukkot before planning your next celebration for October 16 through the 23.
At the end of Yom Kippur, Jewish individuals who follow the full calendar of holidays begin assembling a structure with a roof of plant materials known as the sukkah. These structures are reminiscent of the tents the Israelites lived in during their 40 years of wandering through the desert. Eating meals in the outdoor area connects you to nature and your ancestors, and it's a lot of fun when done right. Foods like the citrus, known as an etrog or citron, are used symbolically during the celebration, but they're also delicious when used to infuse vinegar or wine after the holiday passes.
Jewish celebrants in America tend to focus on seasonal foods found around them, so naturally, winter squashes, pumpkin, peppers, root vegetables and apples feature heavily in Sukkot dishes. Honey and dried fruit also are involved because Rosh Hashanah is just around the corner. Buying local produce directly ties into the historical side of Sukkot, along with the search for fresh greenery to use for the roof.
Stuffed dishes represent abundance, setting the tone for the common season and Holy Days. Some great options include:
- Squash and zucchini stuffed with bread, fruit, nut or rice-based fillings
- Cabbage and grape leaves stuffed with meat
- Strudels and other rolled or filled baked dishes
- Couscous with dates and nuts
- Seasonal salads featuring pomegranates, apples, arugula, carrots, and tangy dressings
- Classic Kosher foods like chicken soup, noodle kugel, and lox.
Taking Sukkot to the Next Level
Of course, your personal preferences and plans for the week-long celebration should determine what you eat and serve. Adding honey and dates to your morning yogurt and eating it in the sukkah as the sun rises can be just as powerful as planning a five-course dinner for the culmination of the event. Don't be afraid to think outside of the box if your local area offers a bounty of produce that isn't the usual fare. Even if you're celebrating with olives and oranges instead of pumpkins and apples, you can build your menu around what's fresh and ready to cook.
Finally, consider catering your Sukkot dinner to take some of the hard work out of keeping Kosher. PaNosh Kosher Catering offers a full menu of dynamic options for Sukkot so your guests will go home with fond memories of a great meal.