Sephardic Stuffed Rosh Hashanah Vegetables

Some Sephardic families have the tradition of not preparing any black foods during Rosh Hashanah in order to avoid the appearance of mourning. The mothers and grandmothers of these clans are famous for their delicious stuffed vegetables. For Rosh Hashanah, this dish is still prepared, using everything that is in season, except eggplants, black olives and dark raisins. Stella Cohen, the author of Stella’s Sephardic Table, shares her recipe for the queens of stuffed vegetables.

The name of this recipe in Judeo-Spanish is Tomat y Sevoya Reynadas, which in fact, means “tomatoes and onions that are transformed into queens.” This recipe originated on the island of Rhodes, now a Greek island, which for centuries prior to the Holocaust, had a large Sephardic population that spoke Judeo-Spanish. When you bite into this traditional dish, you will understand exactly why it was considered fit for a royal palate.

Stuffed Tomatoes and Onions

  • 10 tomatoes
  • 10 onions
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • For the meat filling:
    • 1 lb. ground beef
    • 4 tbsp. minced parsley
    • 1 scallion, sliced
    • 1 tomato, seeded and grated
    • 4 slices of white bread, dipped in water and cut up
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • For the vegetable base:
    • 1 onion, cubed
    • 4 scallions, sliced
    • 2 stalks celery, sliced
    • 2 potatoes, cubed
    • 1/4 cup stewed tomatoes in their juice
    • 3 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1/2 cup hot water
    • 1/2 tsp. sugar
    • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Peel and hollow out the onions, but do not discard the insides of the onions. Instead, save for Step 5.
  2. Hollow out the tomatoes, but do not discard the insides of the tomatoes. Instead, save for Step 5.
  3. Mix all the ingredients for the meat filling in a large bowl.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot.
  5. Chop up the pieces of onions and tomatoes, and place them in the oil with all the other vegetables for the filling.
  6. Add the stewed tomatoes and hot water.
  7. Season with the sugar, salt, and pepper.
  8. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  9. Stuff the tomatoes and onions with the meat mixture.
  10. Heat some olive oil in a heavy pan.
  11. Dip the tops of the filled tomatoes and onions in flour, then egg.
  12. Fry the stuffed vegetables until golden brown.
  13. Drain on paper towels.
  14. Arrange the fried stuffed vegetables in the pot with the vegetable base.
  15. Add some hot chicken or vegetable stock.
  16. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 45 minutes.
  17. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  18. Uncover the pot, and place in the oven for 15 minutes to brown the tops of the vegetables.

Adapted from Stella’s Sephardic Table by Stella Cohen

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