Thursday, November 17, 2011

Adding Meaning (and Jewish Flavors) to the Thanksgiving Table with Recipes for Pumpkin Hummus and More

Pumpkin Hummus with Za'atar Drizzle
I recently had the opportunity to speak about inviting Judaism to the Thanksgiving table.  Other folks were talking about prayers and traditions and I was to focus on the food, but it seemed to me to be a larger issue -- that what we really wanted to do was to add meaning.

My resulting presentation started off with a Thanksgiving trivia game and then I gave a number of resources to help add meaning, explanation and participation to the dinner to make it a more of a home ritual observance beyond friends, family and football without losing its all-inclusive, American nature. I've also ruminated on adding more meaning to the meal (including some suggestions) in this post.

I also developed some recipes to give the food a bit of a Jewish twist.
The Pumpkin Hummus with Za’atar Drizzle is a versatile appetizer with Middle Eastern and New World flavors. It is quick and easy to put together. Make the Challah “Stuffing” Kugel with Fresh Herbs in a shallow baking dish for lots of crusty bits or a deeper dish for lots of succulent ones. Either way, it’s a savory way to serve dressing this Thanksgiving. If the fresh herbs are not available, substitute about a third of the amount of dried, ground sage and thyme. Canned whole berry cranberry sauce is the basis of a Cranberry-Date “Charoset” with pecans and orange zest. It combines North American and Sephardic elements.

Pumpkin Hummus with Za’atar Drizzle
Makes 8 appetizer servings

7-8 oz. container of unflavored hummus
1 cup canned or fresh pumpkin puree (do not use canned pumpkin pie filling)
2 Tbs. za’atar seasoning mix (or use 5 tsp. ground oregano, 1⁄4 tsp. of cumin and 1 tsp. sesame seeds)
1/4 cup olive oil
6-8 flatbreads or pita breads

Mix hummus with pumpkin puree. In a separate bowl, combine za’atar with olive oil and stir well. Heat flatbreads or pitas in dry fry pan or griddle until warm and toasted. Either serve as a topped flatbread or dip. To serve as a flatbread, spread the pumpkin hummus on the bread, drizzle with za’atar mix and cut into triangles. To serve as a dip, stir half of the za’atar into the hummus until just combined and you can still see “streaks” of the herb oil mixture. Drizzle the remainder on top of the pumpkin hummus. Cut the warmed breads into triangles and serve with dip.

Challah “Stuffing” Kugel with Fresh Herbs
Serves 6-8

Tofurky makes an a good vegan Italian sausage. Use that and vegetable broth to make this dish vegetarian.

1 Tbs. plus 2 Tbs. oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped carrots (cut into 1/4” chunks)
1/2 cup chopped celery (cut into 1/4" chunks)
2 cups chopped mushrooms (cut into 1/4" chunks)
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 lb. turkey Italian sausage, removed from casings and crumbled
1 Tbs. minced fresh sage leaves
2 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
1 lb. challah, torn or cut into 1” pieces
4 cups chicken stock
4 eggs, beaten
½ tsp. paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large baking dish or casserole with 1 Tbs. oil. Put remaining oil in large pan, and when heated, add onions and garlic and sauté until softened. Add carrots, celery and mushrooms, sautéing until just softened. Add red pepper, salt and black pepper and stir well. Add crumbled sausage, stirring often to break up clumps until browned. Add minced sage and thyme. Sauté for a minute.
Remove for heat. Combine with challah in a large mixing bowl. Add chicken stock and eggs, mix well. Place in greased baking dish. Sprinkle top with paprika. Bake for 50-60 minutes until top is brown and crusty and kugel is set. (Timing will vary depending on dimensions of baking dish.)

Cranberry and Date “Charoset”
Makes about 2 cups

Besides serving this as a cranberry sauce with the turkey, it makes a great topping for goat cheese as an appetizer.  Serve it with toasted baguette slices.

14 oz. can of whole berry cranberry sauce
1 cup large Medjool dates (about 8 dates)
1 Tbs. sugar
2 Tbs. minced orange zest
2 Tbs. orange juice
3/4 cup pecan pieces (1/4” bits)
1/4 tsp. ground ginger, optional

Break down sauce using a fork, being careful not to mash berries. Pit dates, toss with sugar and chop into 1/4” pieces. Combine with cranberries. Add zest, juice, pecans and ginger (if using), stir well.

A slightly different version of this post originally appeared in j. weekly.


Melanie said...

I love these recipes very much.Thanks for sharing. I have only eaten the apple version of harroset (sp?) but this is something different and wonderful.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Boy, you really do good things with pumpkin. The hummus looks excellent. Also like cranberry and date charoset. That's a flavor combo I haven't had, and since I like cranberries and really like dates - well, I'd be a fool not to try that, wouldn't I? (No one need answer my question!) Thanks!

Nicole Gamble said...

Great recipe ! I just made it! It`s delicious!!! Thanks for sharing!

FJKramer said...

Melanie, Kitchen Riffs and Nicole, thanks so much. Hope you all had a meaningful and delicious holiday.

Nicole - which recipe did you make? Let me know.

Thanks again,

ClaudiaH said...

I'm copying the Charoset one. Will let you know eventually when I try it. Maybe for a holiday meal.

ClaudiaH said...

I printed your Charoset recipe and will let you know when I try it. Looks good! Thanks! Happy holidays!

Mary Bergfeld said...

While I've passed information about your site to friends, I must tell you that this Irish-Catholic grandmother loves your recipes. This is my first visit to your blog so I've spent some time browsing through your earlier posts. You've created a great spot for your readers to visit and I really enjoyed the time I spent here. I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

FJKramer said...

Dear Mary -- You made my day. I'm glad you like my recipes and writing. I do think good food is universal.

Claudia - let me know how the cranberries come out!