Stuffed Root Vegetables With a Tang: A Recipe

Stuffed vegetables take on special significance on the holiday of Simhat Torah, when Jews celebrate their holiest text.

Vered Guttman

It is customary to serve stuffed vegetables for Simhat Torah, the day when Jews celebrate the Torah, which starts at sundown on Monday this year. There’s a simple, straightforward reason behind this tradition. The stuffed vegetable is just like a Torah scroll, with the real essence wrapped inside. Stuffed cabbage leaves are popular in Ashkenazi communities, but I always like to take the opportunity to try new combinations.

As a Middle Eastern cook, I love stuffing vegetables, anything from Swiss chard leaves to eggplant, tomato, zucchini, potatoes and more. And there’s nothing that says love more than a dish of stuffed vegetables, where the cook's hard work is evident in every bite.

Stuffed root vegetables in pomegranate sauce

Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS

For the filling:

1 1/4 lb. ground beef, preferably chuck

3 slices day-old challah, soaked in water and squeezed

1 grated yellow onion

1 small bunch Italian parsley, leaves only, chopped

1/3 cup dried sour cherries

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the vegetables:

2 cups pomegranate juice

2 cups tomato juice

2 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon kosher salt

12 medium yellow potatoes

6 large beets

DIRECTIONS

1. Mix all filling ingredients with your hands. Set aside.

2. Put pomegranate juice, tomato juice, chicken stock, olive oil and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to boil. Remove from heat.

3. Spray a 12-inch frying pan with oil.

4. Peel potatoes and beets, and trim bottoms and tops so they are flat. Using a melon scooper, scoop out the inside of the vegetables, leaving about 1/4 inch on the walls and the bottoms. Keep potato and beet bits.

5. Stuff vegetables with meat filling, mounding generously on top. Arrange in the greased pan. Push the vegetable bits between the stuffed vegetables.

6. Pour hot pomegranate sauce over the stuffed vegetables and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover pan, lower heat, and cook for one hour, spooning sauce over vegetables a few times while cooking. After an hour, remove lid and cook for 30-40 minutes longer, occasionally spooning sauce over vegetables, until sauce has thickened and vegetables are tender.

7. Remove from heat. Let stand, uncovered, for 10 minutes, and serve. Spoon the extra sauce over the vegetables.