Rosh Hashanah Dinner, Prepared in Advance: Your Step-by-step Meal Planner

Want to cook a big holiday meal with as little stress as possible? Vered Guttman draws on her catering prowess to create this day-by-day prep schedule — plus two fancy but easy appetizer recipes

Vered Guttman
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Is your Rosh Hashanah dinner planned out yet? If not, this (relatively) quick and easy menu is for you, with step-by-step instructions to guide you from today through Erev Rosh Hashanah.

Let’s start.

Our top Rosh Hashanah recipes

This menu has a few advantages. First off, all the dishes are really tasty. Second, most recipes are relatively simple and can be prepared in advance. In fact, the soup, brisket and cake get better with each passing day. In addition, many of the dishes on this menu hold symbolic meanings, and can be used as part of the traditional Sephardi Rosh Hashanah seder, as explained here.

While most of the dishes in this holiday menu are easy to make, one caveat is the matza ball soup. When it comes to a good chicken soup with matza balls, there are no shortcuts (except for buying it ready-made at a really good deli). The good news is that you can make the soup a few days in advance. Our main goal here is to make sure that Rosh Hashanah eve is free of worrying and hard work.

The menu

For the blessings:

- Apples and honey

- Challah

- Wine

First course:

- Ceviche with pomegranate (recipe below)

Second course:

- Matza ball soup (choose your favorite from here)

Main course:

Spicy beef brisket

Noodle, nuts and dried fruit kugel

- Kale, green bean and avocado salad (recipe below)


Date and honey cake

Polish compote (make it with apples, pears and raisins only)

Day-by-day instructions

Rosh Hashanah eve falls on Monday night this year, meaning that if you refrain from cooking on Shabbat, you may need to do some of the preparation on Friday, which will work perfectly fine with this menu. But you want to start your shopping on Thursday.

Thursday/Friday morning

Shop for everything aside from challah and flowers.

Sunday (or Saturday, if you’re cooking on Shabbat):

Sear brisket and bake according to directions. It needs a good three hours in the oven.

While brisket is in the oven:

Bake the cake (it bakes at the same temperature as the brisket).
Make the chicken soup.

Make matza balls, and cook them in a separate pot - either in a simple chicken broth or in salted water.

Make Polish compote.

Blanch green beans for salad. Cool down, cover and refrigerate. - Make the salad dressing as well. Refrigerate.

Remove matza balls from cooking water and refrigerate.

Let all the dishes cool down.

Cover brisket, soup and compote, and refrigerate.

Cover cake with a lose aluminum foil, and store at room temperature. The hard work is behind you.


Arrange the table for tomorrow. Each guest needs a dinner plate and a soup bowl, salad fork, tablespoon, fork and knife, water and wine glasses, and a napkin.

In the kitchen, prepare for each guest a small glass or bowl for the ceviche; a soup bowl; a dessert plate and dessert fork.

Take out all the serving dishes and utensils you’ll be using during dinner. That should include an oven-proof serving dish for the brisket, if possible.

Fill small bowls with honey and cover.

Sunday morning

Get challah and flowers

Prepare and bake kugel, and leave at room temperature covered loosely with aluminum foil.

Prepare ceviche, divide between individual small glasses or bowls, arrange on a tray or a rimmed baking sheet, cover in plastic and keep in the fridge.

Slice all leaves for kale salad, and keep in a large covered bowl in the fridge (do not mix with dressing yet).

Sunday afternoon

Take brisket, soup and matza balls out the fridge.

Slice the brisket, arrange nicely in an oven proof dish and cover with sauce. Cover with parchment paper and then with aluminum foil.

Remove fat from top of soup and discard.

Leave all at room temperature.

An hour and a half before dinner

Turn oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit (165 degrees Celsius).

Drink a glass of red wine.

Put soup pot on medium-high heat and bring to boil. Add matza balls, bring to boil again, then reduce heat to low, cover pot, and keep on low heat for 30 minutes, or until you’re ready to serve.

Reheat brisket, covered really well with aluminum foil, for 40 minutes or until heated through. Turn oven off, leaving brisket inside until ready to serve. You can add kugel to the oven for the last 20 minutes before turning it off, if you prefer to serve it warm.

Mix kale salad with dressing, cut avocado in, mix again, cover and leave in fridge until serving.

Slice apples, mix with a little lemon juice, and put in a serving bowl on the table.

You’re done.


Kale, green bean and avocado salad

  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  • 1 minced garlic clove

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • 1 teaspoon fine salt (or to taste)

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

For dressing:

  • 1 1/2 cups sliced green beans

  • 1 bunch Tuscan or purple kale

  • 2 heads romaine lettuce

  • 1 ripe avocado

  • 12 sliced kalamata olives

For salad:

  • 1 1/2 cups sliced green beans
  • 1 bunch Tuscan or purple kale
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 12 sliced kalamata olives

Tilapia, pomegranate and sumac ceviche

  • 1 pound fresh tilapia fillet

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

  • 1 red chili pepper (or Serrano pepper), seeded and finely chopped

  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves

  • 1/4 red onion, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon sumac

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

  • Kosher salt to taste


Kale, green bean and avocado salad

1. Put all dressing ingredients in a sealed container and shake well. Adjust salt to taste (dressing should be fairly salty). Keep in fridge. Can be prepared up to three days ahead.

2. Blanch green beans in boiling water for 2 minutes, leaving them crispy. Wash under cold water, and set aside.

3. Slice kale into very, very thin strips, and put in a large bowl. Slice lettuce thinly and place on top of the kale. Add green beans to the bowl. This can be made a few hours in advance.

4. Before serving, shake dressing in the container again, and mix with salad. Cut avocado in half, then cut the flesh into cubes and remove from skin with a spoon. Add to salad along with the olives, and mix again, very gently. Serve.

Tilapia, pomegranate and sumac ceviche

Sumac is available at some Whole Foods markets, and in Middle Eastern markets.

Cut the tilapia into 1/2-inch (1-centimeter) cubes, put in a non-reactive bowl and mix with the lemon juice. Add pomegranate seeds, chili pepper, cilantro, red onion, sumac and olive oil, and mix. Add salt to taste, mix, and serve.

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