We end and we begin. With the ending of the holiday of Shmini Atzeret, we begin Simchat Torah (Rejoicing of the Torah) which celebrates the completion of the year-long reading of the Torah. And, then we begin anew with a celebration of life in the story of creation in Bereshit (Genesis). The holiday is an extraordinary community celebration of dancing and singing with Torah scrolls for seven Hakafot (circles).
Simchat Torah symbolizes the cycles of our lives. As the Earth rotates, our lives rotate throughout the year; Torahs scroll cycle along their wooden spines each week; our food grows in cycles; on Simchat Torah while holding the Torah, we circle as a community; and we cycle together throughout the Jewish calendar.
In the spirit of the seven Hakafot, I created a Simchat Torah recipe reflecting the cyclical nature and joy of the holiday. It’s common to eat foods that are rolled like scrolls and I would suggest that there is this option for this dish, too.
The are seven round-ish organic fruits and vegetables (from the Plummer Park farmers market in West Hollywood, CA) in the dish that symbolize the seven Hakafot. It is a recipe filled with a montage of plants and seeds: some ingredients are sweet, others bitter, one a bit tough and others soft. In some ways, this dish symbolizes the diversity of Torah’s many ideas, teachings, values, thoughts, experiences that inspire, guide, challenge and teach us in our lives.
Simchat Torah Rounds
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 large eggplants (many varieties are available)
1 small yellow onion
1 apple (choose one from the thousands of apple species)
seeds from 1/2 pomegranate
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 crushed garlic clove (optional)
smoked Maldon salt (or regular salt)
1. Wash all ingredients
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
3. Cook quinoa (1 cup dry quinoa, 2 cups water, simmer over low heat until done)
4. Slice eggplant into thin rounds. Place on cookie sheets or trays lined with parchment paper. Drizzle two tbsp olive oil over them. Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes until lightly browned but not crispy.
5. Finely chop onion, apple, pear, quince and persimmon. Remove seeds from pomegranate.
6. Over low heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil to pan. Add onions and heat until translucent. Then add fruits and heat until soft but not mushy, approximately 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and add pomegranate seeds. Add salt and pepper to taste.
7. Mix 3 tbsp tahini paste with lemon juice from 1/2 lemon. Add cold water until it becomes a thinner liquid and lighter in color. Add pinch of preferably smoked Maldon salt (love the light flavor it adds to the tahini). Optional to add garlic.
8. Once eggplant is done, remove from oven and cool.
9. Place eggplants on platter and add small scoop of quinoa and fruit mixture (option to roll the eggplants). Drizzle tahini on top. Serve.