This year Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown Monday, which just happens to be Labor Day.
My family will gather to celebrate this double occasion with a barbecue and early dinner that will allow everyone to attend evening synagogue services without rushing. The weather is usually still warm at this time of the year, so we will eat in the garden.
The menu starts with a refreshing cup of cold tomato soup and chunks of fresh mozzarella cheese. The easy-to-prepare main course is marinated grilled salmon kebabs served on a bed of stewed leeks. The whole-wheat challah rolls can be made several days in advance and stored in the freezer. A mixed green salad will round out the meal.
For dessert, the holiday apple cake made with honey symbolizes "a sweet year," a Jewish tradition that dates from Biblical times. Vanilla ice cream, home-made or store-bought, is a perfect addition.
This menu is a light and welcome change from the traditional chopped liver, chicken soup with matzo balls and stuffed roast chicken dinner I have served in the past. Most items can be prepared in advance, with only a few last-minute touches needed.
\o7 Tomatoes, basil and mozzarella, the traditional ingredients for a popular Italian salad, are combined in this flavorful soup.
COLD TOMATO SOUP WITH FRESH MOZZARELLA CHEESE 6 medium tomatoes, peeled 1/4 cup thinly sliced basil 1 teaspoon sugar, or more to taste 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste Freshly ground pepper 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes Olive oil
Puree tomatoes in food processor or blender. Strain into glass bowl. Add basil and mix. Season to taste with sugar, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
Spoon equal amount of mozzarella into center of each of 6 shallow bowls. Ladle tomato mixture over each. Drizzle olive oil to taste over soup. Makes 6 servings.
Each serving contains about:
108 calories; 509 mg sodium; 22 mg cholesterol; 6 grams fat; 7 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams protein; 0.80 gram fiber.
\o7 This colorful, healthful main course can be assembled in advance and grilled at serving time. Use either a barbecue grill a gas or electric broiler. Choose the firmest, freshest fish.
GRILLED SALMON AND VEGETABLE KEBABS WITH STEWED LEEKS 3 pounds salmon, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes 1/4 cup olive oil 3 shallots, chopped Salt Freshly ground pepper 2 sweet red peppers, seeded and cut into 1 1/2-inch slices 2 onions, cut into chunks Stewed Leeks
In large, shallow glass baking dish combine fish with olive oil and shallots. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in refrigerator 2 hours, rotating 3 or 4 times.
On each of 6 stainless-steel skewers (or wooden skewers soaked in water) thread 1 slice of sweet red pepper, then alternate with salmon and onion, ending with another slice of sweet red pepper.
Grill or broil kebabs over high heat until slightly brown. Turn and repeat until done, about 5 minutes on each side, taking care not to overcook. If Stewed Leeks are cold, rewarm them. Divide Stewed Leeks among heated serving plates and arrange kebabs on top. Makes 6 servings.
Each serving contains about:
459 calories; 330 mg sodium; 90 mg cholesterol; 22 grams fat; 30 grams carbohydrates; 35 grams protein; 2.81 grams fiber.
Stewed Leeks 4 pounds medium leeks 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock Salt, pepper
Trim root end and dark-green leaves from leeks. Slice into 1-inch-long pieces. Soak 10 minutes in bowl of cold water. Drain and rinse well.
Heat vegetable stock in large skillet. Add leeks. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Makes 6 servings.
WHOLE-WHEAT CHALLAH ROLLS 2 cups whole-wheat flour 2 cups unbleached flour 1 package active dry yeast 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 cup warm water 1/4 cup oil 2 tablespoons honey 1 cup peeled, grated carrots 2 eggs Poppy seeds or sesame seeds
In large mixing bowl, combine whole wheat and unbleached flours, stirring to mix evenly. Set aside 2 cups of flour mixture. Add yeast and salt to flour in mixing bowl and stir well. Heat water, oil and honey in saucepan or microwave oven until very warm but not hot, about 115 to 120 degrees. Add warm liquid to flour in mixing bowl and beat until well blended. Stir in 1 egg, carrots and enough of reserved flour mixture to make soft dough.
Turn dough onto floured board and knead 5 to 10 minutes, adding additional reserved flour mixture as needed to make smooth and elastic dough. Grease interior of 2 1/2- to 3-quart bowl with oil, place dough in bowl and rub surface of dough with oil. Cover bowl with towel and let dough rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Break off dough into 30 small pieces. Form into long ropes and twist into small, simple knots. Place on greased baking sheet. Cover with towel and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Brush top of rolls with remaining beaten egg. Sprinkle with poppy seeds to taste. Bake at 350 degrees 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Makes 30 rolls.