The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, is a time of reflection, prayer, and family gatherings. It’s also a time for delicious food and traditional recipes passed down through generations. Being gluten free at Rosh Hashanah wasn’t always fun or delicious! Times have changed dramatically, and celebrating the Jewish holidays has gotten way tastier!
Here’s how we celebrate our Gluten-Free Rosh Hashanah and help you make your festive table both delightful and inclusive!
Meg and her sisters were raised in a blended family. Her father, a catholic and me, a Jew. My family’s Jewish celebrations were in fact what got me to love cooking! Gathering around the tables, loaded with incredible foods my mom Evy, Aunt Ruth and Nana Rosenbloom would prepare. The meal was incredibly tasty. There was no shortage of food, ever! It was a happy time for our family when we’d all gather around the tables.
Being Jewish for me was always around the traditions our family kept. Whether it was Shabbat dinner, breaking bread on Friday night, the food, going to temple, the heat waves in September, Hebrew prayers, sitting and holding my father’s hand during the high holiday services that seemed to last an eternity… However, what would I give to hold his hands again… all these warm memories as I write make my heart happy since most of my Jewish relatives are all heavenly angels.
Rosh Hashanah Food Traditions
Many traditional foods for Rosh Hashanah are already gluten-free. Apples dipped in honey, for instance, symbolizing a sweet new year, are a classic gluten-free treat. As is brisket or a fish meal. However, other staples, like challah (a type of braided egg bread) and certain desserts, typically contain gluten. The key is to find or create gluten-free versions of these traditional foods. And we have many for you listed below!
Believe it or not, making gluten-free challah is entirely possible! It might take a couple of tries to perfect, but with the right mix of gluten-free flours (like almond, rice, and tapioca flour), you can achieve a fluffy and flavorful bread. If baking isn’t your forte, many bakeries and specialty stores now offer gluten-free challah, especially during the High Holidays.
There are gluten free artisan bakeries popping up all over and some even bake a gluten free challah! But if you’re up for baking, in Damn Good Gluten Free there is an egg bread similar to challah. For a more traditional gluten free challah, we love baking from Aran Goyoaga’s Cookbook. Aran is an amazing photographer, chef and gluten free cookbook author.
The Main Course
Many traditional dishes for Rosh Hashanah, like brisket or roast chicken, are naturally gluten-free. However, ensure that any sauces or marinades you use are free from gluten-containing ingredients. Many sauces include wheat flour. Reading ingredient labels or making sauces from scratch is a safe way to ensure your main course remains gluten-free.
Tzimmes, a sweet carrot dish, and kugel, a noodle or potato casserole, are staples at many Rosh Hashanah dinners. For a gluten-free version of potato kugel, simply ensure that all ingredients, especially any added starches or flours, are gluten-free. For noodle kugel, opt for gluten-free noodles available at most grocery stores. Keep scrolling for a link to Peg’s mom’s best Noodle Kugel recipe!
Rosh Hashanah desserts are where you can truly get creative. Honey cake is a traditional favorite. Thankfully, there are many gluten-free honey cake recipes online that utilize almond flour or a gluten-free flour blend to keep the moist texture of the cake. Another favorite, rugelach, can be made gluten-free by using a gluten-free flour blend in the dough. There are even frozen gluten free rugelach available!
Our family’s traditional Rosh Hashanah meal and the recipes that were passed down…
- Nana’s Chicken Soup, (with or without) gluten free Matzo Balls, and the soup is always made with the feet! Why is it good to add the feet to your chicken stock?
- Nana’s Brisket, my Aunt Ruth would stuff Veal, ( we stopped eating veal),
- Tzimmes (this recipe is similar to ours),
- roasted vegetables,
- Nana’s BEST Kugel, now made gluten free thanks to Jovial for their noodles! And of course dessert!
- We love chocolate dipped Macaroons, a honey cake ( this is from our dear friend Pamela Salzman who made this amazing grain free cake and it’s gotten rave reviews over the years!)
- strawberry shortcake, (this shortcake recipe looked super easy and had great reviews! ). And whip cream…always chocolates. Strawberries dipped in chocolate!
A few newer Jewish Holiday recipes I’ve created over the years are:
- Butter Nut Zoodles baked with Plums, French Macarons, Fennel and Fig Beer Braised Brisket. Keeping to tradition is what our girls prefer, however it’s also lovely to switch things up a bit!
I love these desserts too!
- A fresh fruit Galette, Strawberry Pie, or a super easy to bake Lemon Pie or Meg’s luscious Chocolate Pie . One can’t go wrong with any of these delicious gluten free desserts!
Another tradition for me is setting the table. I love when people arrive the table is set in such a way, it starts the celebration in a beautiful light! I love table setting so much, I even wrote about it in the last chapter of Damn Good Gluten Free☺ You’ll find the great majority of the traditional recipes I listed above in this book! And if you have a family with many different food preferences or dietary conditions, you might love to grab a copy from our local bookstore or on amazon. It comes both in hard cover as well as kindle, and every recipe has a photo.
Embracing New Traditions
Rosh Hashanah is about new beginnings, and what better way to embrace that spirit than by starting some new food traditions? Experiment with gluten-free recipes or introduce naturally gluten-free dishes from other cultures into your Rosh Hashanah meal. The goal is to create a memorable and delicious feast that everyone can enjoy.
Tips for a Gluten-Free Rosh Hashanah:
- ReadLabelsCarefully: Even if a product seems like it should be gluten-free, always read the label to be sure. Ingredients and processing methods can change.
- Communicate: If you’re attending a Rosh Hashanah dinner at someone else’s home, communicate your dietary needs in advance. Offer to bring a dish or two to share, ensuring you’ll have something you can eat.
- ExperimentinAdvance: If you’re trying a new gluten-free recipe for the holiday, give it a test run in advance. This will give you time to tweak as necessary.
Celebrating a Gluten-Free Rosh Hashanah is not only doable but can be a delightful culinary adventure. If you have kids cook with them. Include them in the setting the table and talk about what you love about your traditions and holiday. By adapting traditional recipes and embracing new ones, you can ensure that everyone at your table, regardless of dietary restrictions, can partake in the joy and deliciousness of the Jewish New Year.
L’Shana Tova! Here’s to a happy, healthy and sweet New Year for all!
With love and blessings,
Pegs and Megs