Tzimmes – The Perfect Holiday Side Dish

Rosh Hashanah is all about eating sweet things to insure that you have a “sweet and fruitful” year. We have a blessing that we say over our Rosh Hashanah meal in which we eat apples dipped in honey and ask that it be G-d’s will that we are renewed for a good and sweet year. The holiday meal typically includes a lovely braised brisket and a dish that’s hard to say but good to eat.

Cut carrots and potatoes into large chunks. Simmer raisins in oil with spices. Stir in veggies and simmer until slightly thickened. Transfer to baking dish.
Cut carrots and potatoes into large chunks. Simmer raisins in oil with spices. Stir in veggies and simmer until slightly thickened. Transfer to baking dish.

Tzimmes (pronounce the first sound a bit like the z’s in pizza and the emphasis is on the first syllable – click here to hear how to say it) is an Ashkenazi (eastern European) Jewish stew typically made with sweet root vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes, dried fruit and lots of honey and cinnamon. But for me, it’s usually a little too far on the sweet scale for me. I know, I know, it’s SUPPOSED to be sweet! But I’m also the girl who jazzes up the Thanksgiving sweet potatoes with red pepper and nuts instead of cinnamon and marshmallows. I am definitely more in line with the savory side unless we are talking dessert.

Cover baking dish with foil and bake. Remove foil to compete cooking. Remove from oven. Juices will thicken slightly as it cools.
Cover baking dish with foil and bake. Remove foil to compete cooking. Remove from oven. Juices will thicken slightly as it cools.

So last year, I toyed around with a number of recipes and came up with something that, frankly, we ate many times throughout the fall and winter. It’s hearty and satisfying with the perfect blend of sweet and savory. It’s best if you can cook it all at once but you can actually do everything up through putting it in the baking dish and then finish cooking later (I did that quite often). Most recipes call for prunes but, ew. Sorry, just no. I started out looking for dried apples or apricots but couldn’t find them so I went with golden raisins. I thought they’d be too sweet but they just plumped up and gave the dish a little tartness and sweetness that was just right. I also added some decidedly savory spices (just a little!) to give the dish a bit of the “Hmmm, what is that?” factor.

Give this a shot for Rosh Hashanah or for Thanksgiving. This has become a holiday go-to for our family!

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Tzimmes

  • 6 T olive oil
  • zest and juice of 1/2 of an orange
  • 1 C chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 C golden raisins (or prunes or apricots, if desired)
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t coriander
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 t coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into large, bite-sized chunks
  • 4 large carrots, cut into large, bite-sized chunks

Preheat oven to 375.

Bring all ingredients except root vegetables to boil over medium heat. Add vegetables, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a greased baking dish. Cover with foil. (At this point you can pop in the fridge until ready to bake. If baking from cold allow a little extra time in oven).

Bake, covered, for 35 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake 15-20 minutes uncovered until getting nice and brown on top and liquid is nice and thick.

Serve with your favorite brisket, chicken, turkey, whatever.

I’ve been known to take big bowls of leftover tzimmes for lunch so try to steal away a portion for tomorrow if you can! It warms up so nicely!

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