The Garden of Eden dish is inspired by many of the symbolic foods eaten on Rosh Hashana and the story of the garden. According to Talmudic rabbis, Rosh Hashana falls on the sixth day of the creation of the world when humans were made.The conflicting notions of beauty, sins and judgement were unleashed in the Garden of Eden. Humanity was created, sinned and judged. As a result of human’s actions, the pains of the world–violence, death– were exposed.
There are many foods eaten at Rosh Hashana, some of which are mentioned in the Talmud: squash, black-eyed peas, leeks, spinach, dates and beets. Other symbolic Rosh Hashana foods are pomegranates, apples, carrots and lamb or fish head.
All of the foods represent one’s hopes for an abundant, fruitful, sweet new year. Sephardic Jews perform a seder at their Rosh Hashana table where they say prayers for each these food.
I was fortunate to find many of these organic ingredients at a farmers market yesterday to prepare a dish that is inspired by these foods and the story of the Garden of Eden. (My pomegranate seeds are “albino” though which I learned is due to an early harvest. They do taste good, though).
I visually imagine the Garden of Eden to be lush and verdant (spinach) with vivacious colors and aliveness of plants (squash, apple, dates). A Midrash tells the story that the Garden of Eden smelled like an apple orchard and in Kabbalah, it is called the Holy apple orchard.
(Want to learn more about apples? Read my apples and honey entry here!)
The Garden of Eden dish holds yin-yang ideas: It is sweet, reflective of the celebration of Rosh Hashana, but has a tiny (tiny!) bitterness from the lemons and apple as a reminder of the painful realities of our world.
1 large squash (I used kabocha)
1 large bunch spinach
1 white onion
5 Medjool dates
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp tahini
1/2 lemon juice
seeds from 1/2 pomegranate
pinch of cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
Wash squash. Poke sides and top with a knife in multiple places for ventilation but keep in tact. Cover outside with 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Place on roasting sheet. Roasted the squash for minimum 1 hour at 475F (will depend on size of squash).
Wash spinach thoroughly and trim ends. Saute until wilted. Leave at side
Chop onion, apple, dates into small pieces. On medium heat, saute onion in 1 tbsp olive oil until translucent. Add apple and cook until slightly tender and then add dates.
At this point, the squash should be cooked. Let it cool. Then slice it open and scoop out the seeds to save for later. Scoop out the inside of the squash and add to the onion/apple/date mix. Add tahini paste and juice from 1/2 lemon. Add water to liquify further (approximately 3-5 tbsps. Add a small pinch of cinnamon. Cook thoroughly. Remove from burner and add salt and pepper to taste.
Rinse squash seeds thoroughly and pat dry. Spread on sheet and add 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Toast until brown.
Arrange the spinach on the bottom or around the edges of your platter. Add squash mixture to center. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds and optional squash seeds on top.