I used to love the holiday of Sukkot. Up north, we would sit outside, huddled together for warmth while the royal-hued autumn leaves rustled around us. We would sit in the Sukkah, a hut, basically, of cold metal poles and marigold yellow and blue canvas walls. The stars came out while we ate, flickering hope and peace and the contentedness of being with family through the bamboo poles above. It was a time of laughter, squishiness, and way too much food. During the day we concocted weird contraptions that we hoped would corral the bugs and bees, but alas, they too love honey, challah, and yummy food. (That includes some of our family members, lol)
Over the years, as our family has divided, multiplied and grown apart, or together, depending on where all the cousins settled, I have changed up the traditional menu. Living in Florida has changed how I view the holiday, and the overabundant six-course meal has gone by the wayside. Instead, we opt for less, a lighter fare, yet still traditional.
This year, the humidity sits heavy in the Sunshine State, and light lunches of fish and salads will be the norm. Following are two easy salads, both favorites of mine, and reminiscent of fall.
My mom has been making this all my life, and although more of a refreshing summer salad, it goes well with fish or cold meats.
4 medium cucumbers
1 medium red onion
Apple Cider Vinegar, 1-1/2 cups
Water, 3 cups
Sugar, ½-1 cup, to taste
Wash the cukes really well. I leave the skin on, but feel free to peel if it’s more your style. Try striping them with the veg peeler for an elegant look. Slice the cucumbers thinly. Place in a large bowl. Peel onion and slice thinly, cut in half to crescent-shaped slices. Place in the bowl with the cukes.
In a 4 cup pyrex measuring cup, combine the vinegar and water. (Don’t stress- it fits) Pour mixture over cukes and onions. Add sugar to taste. Mix well. You can always add more sugar, so start small. Once combined, place in a large, sealed container and refrigerate at least overnight. Serve cold.
I have hacked this recipe from my friend Nava, a famous cookbook author in veg circles. She’s OK with that.
1 small-medium head of green cabbage
1 granny smith or ginger gold apple, diced – skin on (any apple will do in a pinch)
½ cup craisins or raisins (used dried apricot once – was ok)
Raw Sunflower Seeds (a handful or so)
1-2 Tbsp Mayo
1 tsp lemon juice
2-4 Tbsp sugar, to taste
A little warm water.
Slice the cabbage into shreds and place in a large mixing bowl. Add apple, craisins and sunflower seeds. Toss gently. In a small bowl mix together mayo, lemon juice, sugar, and water. Pour over cabbage mixture and mix well. Put in a large container in the fridge. This can be served immediately, but it tastes better the next day. I promise.
For your protein – keep it simple. A London Broil or Brisket rubbed with Trader Joe’s Coffee Rub and a tablespoon of BBQ sauce (go for the brown sugar). Slow cooked – serve hot or cold. If you’re feeling fishy, a beautiful piece of salmon – there are so many yummy ways to prepare this versatile fish. My daughter loves it cooked with Duck Sauce (I know, but it’s delicious) or a honey teriyaki glaze.
And now, on to dessert. I’d share my chocolate pudding recipe, but I fear my family may not eat it if they know the true ingredients. It takes 5 minutes and a blender, feel free to message me for the recipe. It’s dark, delicious and excellent with a little-whipped cream.
Ok, so I teased you. My dessert this year will be a fall inspired, pumpkin non-dairy cheesecake.
1 ½ cups gingersnap, vanilla wafers or tea biscuit cookies, crushed
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup melted Earth Balance Butter (stick – you can use margarine)
3 packages of Tofutti nondairy plain cream cheese
3 eggs, beat them lightly (if they cry, you were too harsh, lol)
1 cup pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
**You can substitute pumpkin pie spice for last 4 ingredients
Mix together cookie crumbs and “butter.” to form the crust. Press into a springform pan.
Beat together the three Tofutti cream cheeses. (HINT – use a blender over a mixer, trust me)
Add in the eggs slowly, continue blending. Add sugar, pumpkin, vanilla extract and spices.
Carefully pour the batter into the springform pan (see why the blender is a good idea?) Wrap the bottom of the pan with foil – don’t be stingy, and place it in a larger pan. I use a disposable 9×13 and stretch the sides. Carefully pour some water (about an inch) into the bottom of the 9×13 – this is called baking in a bath and will keep your crust from burning and crumbling.
Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour. I start checking it at 50 minutes, but it can take as long as an hour and 20 minutes to set. When done, let it cool COMPLETELY on the counter before refrigerating.
Wishing all who are celebrating a joyful, DRY Sukkot holiday.
Stay motivated and caffeinated!😃☕