Lately my days are consumed with furious menu planning and endless food preparations. If I’m not standing at my stove, I’m shopping at the supermarket or running to the shuk for some hard-to-find ingredient.
Frankly, it’s both exhilarating and exhausting, but as we round the bend to the holiday of Sukkot, I feel a renewed sense of anticipation as my menus take on fall themes and a focus on rustic, hearty foods.
Sukkot has always been one of my favorite holidays. In Canada, where I grew up, the weather would often turn chilly just before the holiday began. We would sit in our sukkah eating thick cabbage and beef soup, hearty chicken and potato dishes and warming fall fruit desserts, all with gloves on to protect against the cool air.
In Israel, I tend to plan two different menus for this harvest feast, one that features the warming foods of my childhood, and the one I actually implement, with lighter, rustic dishes that are more appropriate to sitting out in the daytime heat, under a hot desert sun.
Here’s a lovely autumnal side dish with a light Mediterranean spin, perfect alongside a lighter meat, chicken or fish dish.
Mediterranean Roasted Root Vegetables with a Sundried Tomato Accent
- ½ cup sundried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1½ cups diced sweet potatoes
- 1 cup diced potatoes
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1 cup diced parsnip (white carrot)
- 4 cloves whole garlic
- 2 tablespoons silan (date syrup)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp mixed dried herbs such as Herbes des Provence
- Coarse sea salt for serving
1. Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.
2. In a small heatproof bowl, combine the water and tomatoes. Let soak 10 minutes.
3. Remove tomatoes, reserving liquid and chop into bite-size pieces. In a large oven-safe dish, combine remaining ingredients, adding the tomatoes and their liquid. Toss well to coat.
4. Cover dish and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake an additional 20 minutes until tender.
5. Sprinkle with sea salt before serving.
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