Succulent Sukkot Recipes
Zeytinagli Patlican Dolmas
Immediately following the fast of Yom Kippur, Jews the world prepare to celebrate Sukkot by constructing a sukkah in preparation for the joyous feast that begins four days later. Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, is the harvest festival mentioned in the Torah (Leviticus 23:34-39). Clifford A. Wright’s "Mediterranean Vegetables" is a great choice for this holiday. It is subtitled "A Cook's ABC of Vegetables and Their Preparation in Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa, with More than 200 Authentic Recipes for the Home Cook."
"There really is no difference between Jewish cuisine and the local cuisine in which it finds itself. What makes it different, is it is almost exclusively connected with holidays and the self-realization on the part of the Jewish community that these dishes are special to those holidays."
Because the "dining room" of the sukkah is farther away from the area of food preparation, traditional dishes for this holiday are easily transportable, one-dish stews and casseroles like tsimmes, borscht, stuffed cabbage or kibbeh. Stuffed vegetables are a popular choice, particularly in Israel, where every Sephardic and Asian culture has a favorite recipe. "Mediterranean Vegetables" contains delicious recipes such as stuffed artichokes, eggplant, grape leaves, mushrooms, onions, chard and yellow peppers.
Most fascinating is the history of each vegetable through the ages. In Sicily, ingesting eggplant was once thought to lead to insanity, and it was called "mad apple." Below is a wonderful recipe for stuffed eggplant from Turkey. In Turkey a whole class of foods is called zeytinagli, meaning "olive oil foods." It is especially convenient as it is meant to be served at room temperature, and delicious even if you are not eating in a Sukkah.
3 large eggplants (about 3 1_2 pounds)
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 cup uncooked medium-grain rice, soaked in tepid water for 30 minutes and drained or rinsed well
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 3/4 cups water, divided
1/2 cup ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped fine or canned crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon dried currants
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground allspice berries
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon sugar