When planning High Holy Day dinners I always try to accommodate my guests’ special needs. Some diners are gluten-free, others are vegan or vegetarian, and a few eat only limited types of carbs. I like to serve side dishes that let all my guests know how welcome they are at our table.
The Cauliflower Rice Kugel with Eggplant and Kale works well for many special diets. Cauliflower rice is available packaged in many produce sections. Make your own by blitzing raw florets and tender stems into tiny pieces in a food processor.
The Sweet Potato and Pear Casserole is vegan and features sweet yellow onions such as Dulce, Maui, Vidalia or Walla Walla.
Both recipes are parve and gluten-free and double well. I always make extra because these dishes also appeal to the “regular” eaters.
Cauliflower Rice Kugel with Eggplant and Kale
Serves 8 as a side dish
1/2 cup oil, divided, plus extra for greasing pan
4½ cups cauliflower rice
1 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper, divided
1½ cups chopped onion
1 Tbs. finely chopped garlic
1 tsp. ground cumin, divided
1 tsp. finely crumbled dried mint, divided
1/2 tsp. ground sumac or lemon pepper, divided
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 lb. unpeeled eggplant, cut into ½-inch pieces
8 cups chopped kale
1/2 tsp. sugar
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8×12-inch pan or similar. Heat 2 Tbs. oil over medium heat in a 12-inch fry pan. Sauté cauliflower with 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper until just tender. Remove to a large bowl. Wipe out pan. Add 2 Tbs. oil to pan, heat to medium-high and sauté onion until beginning to color. Add garlic. Sauté until golden. Add half of cumin, mint and sumac. Stir in 1/4 tsp. salt and cayenne. Drizzle in 2 Tbs. oil. Add eggplant. Sauté, stirring often. Add 1/4 cup of water, stir well, cover and reduce heat to medium. Stir occasionally until thoroughly cooked. Add to cauliflower, wipe out pan and return to medium-high. Heat 2 Tbs. of oil. Sauté kale until just tender. Stir in 1/4 tsp. salt and sugar. Discard any liquid and add to cauliflower.
Mix remaining salt, cumin, mint and sumac with eggs. Combine with vegetables. Pour into pan. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake 35-40 minutes until firm, browned and edges are pulling away from pan. Let cool 10-20 minutes before slicing. Garnish with mint and tomatoes.
Sweet Potato and Pear Casserole
Serves 4 as a side dish
3 Tbs. parve stick margarine, divided, plus extra for baking dish
1 lb. sweet potatoes, scrubbed
1 lb. ripe but firm Bartlett pears
1 small (6 oz.) sweet yellow onion, very thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. plus 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 cup vegetable stock or broth
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom and sides of 5-6 cup casserole or soufflé dish. Thinly slice unpeeled sweet potatoes. Peel pears only if skin is bitter. Cut in half, remove core and thinly slice. Separate onion into individual rings. Mix salt, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, cardamom and cloves together. Layer a third of sweet potatoes, top with half of the pears and onions. Sprinkle with half the spice mix. Cut 1 Tbs. margarine into bits and scatter on top. Repeat. Top with remaining sweet potato slices. Pour stock on top. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon. Dot with remaining margarine cut into bits. Cover loosely with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, remove foil, bake another 30 minutes until sweet potatoes are tender. (Timing depends on pan dimensions.)