Seven Vegetable Couscous

Seven vegetable couscous is a colorful dish traditional to the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah), but you need not save it for special occasions only.

Rosh Hashanah is more than a New Year’s celebration. The holiday’s ancient roots are as a harvest festival, and enjoyment of the abundant produce of early autumn remains central to the celebration. The foods served emphasize the holiday’s optimistic spirit.

Though it’s a joyous time, Rosh Hashanah is also the first of the Ten Days of Awe, a period of spiritual reflection and repentance that culminates in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

Symbolic foods for the holiday: As with almost every sacred and ancient celebration, food plays a central role and is filled with symbolism for Rosh Hashanah. When making challah bread, for example, the baker might pinch off a bit of dough and burn it in the oven as a symbolic sacrifice.

Seven is a lucky number in Jewish tradition. So a dish featuring seven vegetables, like this one, is a New Year favorite among Sephardic Jews.

Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients. This recipe is as easy as can be. Recipe adapted from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas.

Completely nontraditional and aligned with entirely the wrong Jewish holiday, these are definitely not your Bubbie’s matzah balls. Bound together with roasted pumpkin puree, I prefer to think of them more as matzah dumplings, since they bear a denser, more toothsome texture than the fluffy pillows of Passover lore. The goal of this wintery interpretation was not to perfect the vegan matzah ball, but to create something with the same sort of comforting flavors, revamped with a more seasonal spin.