The Jewish festival of Sukkot started at sunset Wednesday.
During the weeklong holiday, many Jewish families build a temporary structure called a sukkah in the yard outside their home. The structure is both symbolic of the types of dwellings the Israelites may have built for shelter during their 40 years in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt, and of those used by farmers during the harvest season.
Meals are often taken in the sukkah, and for that reason, most are simple, one-dish affairs.
I’ve always thought of Sukkot as a Jewish version of Thanksgiving, from the harvest-inspired menu to the focus on gathering loved ones for nothing more than to be together and break bread. It is one of my favorite holidays each year, full of special food, wine and friends.
Last week, I hosted a small group for a pre-Sukkot tasting. I was experimenting with a chicken, date and almond recipe I found in Ronnie Fein’s Hip Kosher cookbook, adding apple cider to the sauce and fresh chopped apple, figs and almonds to accompanying couscous.
The dish was sweet, savory and certainly celebratory when matched with two stellar white wines. Whether gracing the sukkah or just a seasonal dinner party, this dish is worthy of any celebratory meal. (Note: Nutritional analyses were unavailable.)