Healthy High Holiday Recipes

While High Holy Day meals tend to feel overwhelmingly rich, they don’t have to be. 
September 7, 2023
Hoppin’ John Photo by Judi Leib

While High Holy Day meals tend to feel overwhelmingly rich, they don’t have to be. 

Here are some options for a lighter Rosh Hashanah meal.

Chef Judi Leib’s Hoppin’ John recipe incorporates her southern heritage into the Jewish holidays.

“Black-eyed peas are in fact mentioned in the Talmud as a symbol of prosperity.” – Judi Leib

“I found out that black-eyed peas are in fact mentioned in the Talmud as a symbol of prosperity,” Leib, founder of Whisk in the Southern, told the Journal. “That is certainly what they are used for at the secular New Year’s, so I think it’s really nice to be able to incorporate that into the Jewish calendar as well.”

While Leib’s recipe is on the healthier side, you can lighten up the meal even more by serving it over greens instead of rice. “You could also use chicken instead of brisket,” she said.

Hoppin’ John

1 cup dried black eyed peas, soaked overnight
4 cups chicken broth
1 ½ lb smoked brisket, cut into medium chunks
½ large onion, diced
1/2 large green or red pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp Old Bay seasoning or Cajun blend
2 Tbsp neutral oil, like canola
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
2 cups long grain rice, cooked

Soak black eyed peas in 2 cups of chicken broth, overnight, in the refrigerator.
Let come back to room temperature when ready to cook.
While bringing peas back to room temperature; heat one tablespoon of oil in a skillet and cook onion, bell pepper and garlic until just soft.
Add this to the pot with the peas. Stir in Old Bay seasoning.
Add brisket pieces and remaining liquid and bring to a boil.
Cook for 30-45 minutes. You want to make sure peas don’t get mushy, they should be al dente.
Wash rice thoroughly. You want to release all the starches. Then cook rice until just tender.
Stir rice into peas and taste. Add salt and pepper, if needed.
Cover pot with a piece of aluminum foil and then lid.
Cook for an additional 15 minutes. Test rice for doneness and remove from heat.
Allow to rest, covered for 10 minutes.
Fluff with a fork and serve alongside challah and greens.

Faith Kramer’s Roast Salmon with Citrus-Honey Sauce is a great choice for High Holiday meals. It’s a lighter, satisfying dish that can easily be prepared ahead of time. 

“Since the marinade and sauce include honey, symbolic of our wish for a sweet New Year, the dish adds flavor and meaning to the Rosh Hashanah table,” Kramer, author of “52 Shabbats,” told the Journal. “And fish is eaten during the holiday as a symbol of luck, innocence and fertility.” She added, “For the best taste and to support the environment, choose wild or sustainably raised salmon. Try using the optional Sichuan peppercorns, the dried husks of prickly ash seeds, to add a mild, pleasant tingle. Crush them lightly in a mortar and pestle or with a meat tenderizer mallet before using. If you are worried about their intensity, start with 1/2 teaspoon and add more if desired.” 

Roast Salmon
Photo by Clara Rice from 52 Shabbats

Roast Salmon with Citrus-Honey Sauce 
Adapted from “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen” (The Collective Book Studio)
Serves 4 to 6 as a main course, or 8 to 10 as a starter

1/3 cup fresh orange juice, blood orange juice, or tangerine juice
½ cup honey (see notes)
½ tsp dried mint
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper or paprika
¼ tsp ground black pepper
½ to 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, lightly crushed, optional (they are available in spice stores, Asian and specialty markets, as well as online)
Vegetable oil for the baking sheet
1 ½ to 2 pounds salmon filet
6 Tbsp thinly sliced green onions

In a small bowl, mix together the orange juice, honey, mint, salt, cayenne, black pepper and crushed Sichuan peppercorns (if using) to make a marinade. Set aside half of the marinade to use later for the sauce.
Grease a rimmed baking sheet with oil. Place the salmon, skin side down, in the pan and brush the top of the salmon with some of the marinade. Let sit for at least 30 minutes or up to 60 minutes, brushing often with the marinade.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
While the fish is marinating, pour the reserved marinade into a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by two-thirds, 15 to 20 minutes. Taste, and adjust the salt and other seasonings, if desired. Set the sauce aside for serving.
Brush the fish again with its marinade. Roast salmon for 15 to 20 minutes, basting with the pan juices after 10 minutes, until the salmon is cooked to the desired doneness. For fully cooked fish, it should read 145°F when an instant-read thermometer is placed in the thickest part of the filet. The flesh should be opaque all the way through but still be very moist.
To serve, transfer the salmon to a platter and spoon the sauce over the fish. Sprinkle with green onions and serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
Note: Choose a mild-tasting, light-colored honey.
The fish and sauce can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated separately in airtight containers.

“Rosh Hashanah is a time of renewal, as well as setting intentions for the new year,” Dawn Lerman, author of “My Fat Dad,” told the Journal. 

Lerman’s almond flour honey cake is a nutritious and delicious alternative to those oh so rich holiday desserts.

“By adding a modern twist to traditional favorites, we continue to honor our ancestry while also modeling elevated habits for the ones we love,” she said. “In the words of my beloved grandmother, Beauty, ‘Our body is the only temple we live in full time, so let the foods we love love us back.’”

Honey Love Photo by Dawn Lerman

Honey Love for a Sweet New Year

½ Tbsp butter for pan (or coconut oil spray)
4 large eggs
1/3 cup honey
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
¼ cup orange juice
1 ½ cups almond flour
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda

Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Generously grease an 8-inch nonstick cake pan.
In a large bowl, lightly whisk the eggs.
One by one, gradually whisk in the honey, vanilla, orange juice, almond flour, salt and baking soda.
Transfer the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake until golden and set, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 25 minutes.
Cool the cake in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Then invert it onto the cooling rack and cool before slicing and serving.
Feel free to use a fun mold – like the butterfly mold pictured — especially when you are having kids at your gathering.
You can serve with baked apples or crushed pistachios.

Shana Tova!

Did you enjoy this article?
You'll love our roundtable.

Editor's Picks

Latest Articles

Print Issue: Breaking Barriers | May 17, 2024

In their new book, “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Jew,” Emmanuel Acho and Noa Tishby bring their vastly different perspectives to examine the complex subject of antisemitism in America today.

More news and opinions than at a
Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.