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Brighten Spirits by Celebrating Succot With Light and Nutritious Menu : Lighthearted Holiday Is a Festive Time to Entertain Family, Friends

October 16, 1986|JUDY ZEIDLER | Zeidler is a free-lance writer who teaches Jewish and other ethnic cookery. and

Succot is a lighthearted Jewish holiday, offering thanks for the past harvest and praying for a bountiful one to come. The traditional foods center around fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains, inspiring us to plan a light and nutritious menu.

In ancient times, holiday meals were eaten in a succah --a small gazebo-like building with three sides, decorated with fruit, greenery and sheaves of grain. It symbolized the huts that workers used to live in during the harvest season, and this year I am decorating my Succot dinner table with a centerpiece of a miniature ceramic succah.

The holiday is a fine one for feasting and entertaining family and friends. Make some extra harvest rolls and Lemon-Chocolate Tarts for such happy occasions.

Fragrant With Herbs

Tradition calls for stuffed foods on this holiday, such as kreplach or blintzes. I have created a new recipe in this category, Mini-Cabbage Rolls. Small and fragrant with herbs, they are easy to make ahead and reheat in the soup--a rich vegetable broth--a few minutes before serving time.

For the fish course, inspired by the French, I have used locally available Pacific red snapper instead of the more expensive fillet of sole. The cooking method calls for a combination of broiling and baking instead of poaching, which preserves the flavor and texture of the fish. The grapes and a little white wine carry out the holiday harvest theme.

For dessert, we will enjoy Lemon-Chocolate Tarts--the chocolate makes a rich layer between the tangy lemon filling and the flaky pastry. The lemons have special meaning because they represent the ceremonial esrog , fruit of the citrus tree, which plays an important part in the Succot ritual.

This low-fat and low-calorie menu should help brighten holiday spirits and is easy to prepare, leaving plenty of time to celebrate.

SUCCOT MENU Fresh Vegetable Soup With Mini - Cabbage Rolls Pacific Red Snapper With Grapes in Wine Sauce Vegetable Pasta Yellow Cornmeal Harvest Rolls Lemon-Chocolate Tarts California White Wine FRESH VEGETABLE SOUP WITH MINI-CABBAGE ROLLS

1/4 cup olive oil

2 onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 stalks celery, sliced

6 large parsnips, peeled and sliced

6 carrots, peeled and sliced

8 cups vegetable or pareve chicken stock, heated

Salt, pepper

Mini-Cabbage Rolls

Heat olive oil and saute onions and garlic until tender. Add celery, parsnips and carrots and saute until tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Add hot vegetable stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to boil and simmer 45 minutes.

Place Mini-Cabbage Rolls into each soup dish and ladle hot soup over. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Mini-Cabbage Rolls

1/4 cup olive oil

1 onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cup brown rice

2 cups water or stock

Salt, pepper

1 head cabbage, core removed

Heat oil in saucepan. Add onion and garlic and cook until tender. Add rice and water and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to boil, mix well. Cover and continue cooking on low heat until rice is tender. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

Steam cabbage until leaves are tender. Place cabbage leaves on work area. If leaves are too large, cut in halves. Using slotted spoon, spoon rice in center of each leaf, reserving broth. Roll leaves around to enclose rice, tucking in sides. Place cabbage rolls in baking dish. Spoon reserved broth over cabbage rolls to cover. Bake at 350 degrees 15 minutes, just to heat through.

PACIFIC RED SNAPPER WITH GRAPES IN WINE SAUCE

6 green onions, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 cup vegetable stock

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup chopped parsley

3 pounds red snapper fillets, cut into 8 to 10 portions

1 cup seedless grapes

Vegetable Pasta

Saute green onions and garlic in 2 tablespoons melted butter until tender. Spoon onto foil-lined baking pan. Add stock, wine and parsley. Place red snapper fillets on top of onion mixture and top with pieces of remaining butter. Place under broiler and broil, basting occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Add grapes during last 5 minutes. Serve immediately with Vegetable Pasta. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Vegetable Pasta

1/4 cup butter or margarine

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup vegetable stock

6 to 8 basil leaves, chopped

Salt, pepper

6 large zucchini, unpeeled, cut julienne

8 large carrots, peeled, cut julienne

Boiling salted water

Heat butter in large skillet. Add garlic and saute until crisp. Add stock and basil leaves. Bring to boil and simmer until slightly thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Add zucchini and carrots to boiling salted water. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until tender. Drain. Add to sauce in skillet and toss to coat.

YELLOW CORNMEAL HARVEST ROLLS

1 package dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water

Dash sugar

1/4 cup olive oil

3 eggs

Cornmeal

1 tablespoon salt

4 to 5 cups flour, about

Sesame seeds

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