Did you know that “gefilte” actually means “stuffed” in Yiddish? The word gefilte originated from the German word gefüllte (stuffed), which is derived from füllen (to fill). Gefilte fish actually came about when, in order to make ends meet, Jewish women living in the shtetls of central and eastern Europe started carefully skinning fish and grinding the flesh and bones with fillers. They used inexpensive ingredients like onions, eggs and bread to augment the fish. The women then stuffed the mixture back into the skin of the fish and baked it. Over time, for various reasons, the practice of stuffing fish fell out of fashion. Gefilte fish balls, cooked in a stock of fish heads, onions, carrots, celery, sugar, salt and pepper, became the preferred cooking method. Although gefilte fish is still often prepared as balls in a fish stock, baking gefilte fish in loaf pans and serving it in slices is another popular approach (and the way I have always prepared it).
This Rosh Hashanah, let’s get back to our roots and make something gefilte. Here are two wonderful stuffed dishes and an extra side dish to adorn your holiday tables and delight everyone’s taste buds.
Vegetable Stuffed Eggplant
ο 2 large eggplants
ο 30 ml (2 tbsp) canola oil to start, plus additional oil, as needed
ο 125 ml (1/2 cup) chopped onion
ο 2 garlic cloves, minced
ο 125 ml (1/2 cup) chopped zucchini
ο 125 ml (1/2 cup) chopped red pepper
ο 175 ml (3/4 cup) mild salsa
ο 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) salt, or to taste
ο 1.25 ml (1/4 tsp) pepper, or to taste
Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F). Prepare a baking dish with canola oil spray.
Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh, leaving about 6 cm (1/4 inch) of eggplant. Chop the eggplant flesh.
Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the chopped eggplant until soft. Remove eggplant from the pan and repeat, first with the onions, then the zucchini and then the peppers. Toss the softened vegetables with the remaining ingredients and stuff the eggplant shells with the vegetables.
Place the stuffed eggplants into the prepared baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for 90 minutes. (Or, if you wish to serve it the following day, bake for 60 minutes, then reheat in a 180 C (350 F) oven for 30 minutes before serving.
Colourful Carrot Slaw
ο 6 large carrots, peeled
ο 60 ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
ο 30 ml (2 tbsp) apple cider vinegar
ο 15 ml (1 tbsp) sugar
ο 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) salt
ο 1.25 ml (1/4 tsp) pepper
ο 125 ml (1/2 cup) dried, sweetened cranberries
ο 125 ml (1/2 cup) walnuts, chopped
Using a food processor, or by hand, slice the carrots very thin and place in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Once combined, pour over the carrot slices. Stir in the dried cranberries. Cover and put the slaw in the refrigerator until chilled, or overnight. Before serving, toss in the walnuts.