When I'm planning Yom Tov menus, the best thing I do for myself is make a list of good side dishes. Entrees aren't hard to figure out, since the family clings to good old familiar recipes – some variation of turkey, chicken or beef. But I like to introduce new side dishes. This colorful salad fits the Rosh HaShanah bill well, having a delicate sweetness offset by a simple dressing and onions. And any vegetarians at the table will happily dig in, because sweet potatoes and lentils are natural superfoods, making a healthy change from the potatoes and heavily-sweetened dishes so often served on this holiday.
Another good thing about this salad is that you can cook it ahead of time. Kept in a tightly-closed container, it keeps well for two days in the fridge. Finally, it tastes so good, my teenager always claims first dibs on the leftovers for a midnight nosh.
3 cups of washed, but not peeled, sweet potatoes sliced in bite-sized circles
1/4 cup black or green lentils
1/2 cup of salted water for cooking the lentils
1 medium onion
Juice of 1/2 lemon, or more if liked
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons of maple syrup
salt and pepper
3 large scallions, green parts only
1. In a small pot, cook the lentils, covered, in the salted 1/2 cup of water. Cook over a small flame and taste to make sure the lentils are tender. If they look like they're drying out but still not tender, add a tablespoon or two of water.
2. Cook the sweet potato slices in plenty of lightly salted water till tender - about 10 minutes. Don't allow to overcook and get mushy. They won't serve for salad if so.
3. Slice the onion thinly.
4. In a small bowl, make a dressing of the lemon juice, olive oil, maple syrup, and a little salt and pepper.
5. While the lentils and sweet potatoes are still hot, put them in a bowl with the sliced onions and pour the dressing over all. Stir gently, with a wooden spoon.
6. Allow the salad to cool, covered. Taste it and add more of the dressing ingredients if wished. Slice up the scallions and scatter them over the salad, mixing gently once more.
7. Chill the salad, covered, and serve cold or at room temperature.
Miriam Kresh is a food and travel writer and a long-time resident of Israel. Enjoy these recipes from her kosher food blog, Israeli Kitchen: Honey Chiffon Cake http://wp.me/pJJxx-LP and Turkey Breast Stuffed with Fruit and Nuts: http://wp.me/pJJxx-L6.