Sweet and Spicy Date-Honey Chicken

Photo: Uzi Yaron

Photo: Uzi Yaron.

As the fall days arrive, and the evenings begin to get cooler, I get a craving for comfort foods. One of my favorite dishes is a chicken casserole full of fragrant spices. This dish is delicious with mashed potatoes and a green salad.

Sweet and Spicy Date-Honey Chicken

  1. Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for three hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  4. Arrange the chicken in a casserole dish, and pour the marinade over it.
  5. Bake for 75 minutes.

From Peel To Seed: Making The Most Of Your Thanksgiving Pumpkin

— by Ronit Treatman

You picked or bought a pumpkin for Thanksgiving.  Now what should you do with it?  Here are three vegan recipes that make use of the whole pumpkin.  One pumpkin can produce an appetizer, a soup, and a vegetable dish for your festive meal.

Begin by cutting your pumpkin in half.  Scoop out the plump seeds from the center of the pumpkin.  From these seeds, you can prepare Sikil P’ak, an ancient Maya appetizer from the Yucatan Peninsula.

More after the jump.
Sikil P’ak
Adapted from Hugo Ortega

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Scoop the pumpkin seeds from your pumpkin (you should get about one cup).
  3. Wash with cold water.
  4. Place on a cookie sheet.
  5. Toast in the oven for about 5 minutes, until golden and fragrant.
  6. Place the toasted pumpkin seeds in a food processor.
  7. Grind until smooth.
  8. Spear one habanero chile with a fork.  Hold it over the flame of a burner or grill until it is charred all over.  
  9. Char 2 plum tomatoes in the same manner.
  10. Add the charred chile and tomatoes to the food processor.
  11. Add 3 tablespoons of minced cilantro.
  12. Add 3 tablespoons of minced chives.
  13. Season with salt to taste.
  14. Process all the ingredients together until you have a smooth paste.

Serve as a festive Thanksgiving appetizer with warm corn chips.

Next, separate the peel from the flesh of the pumpkin.  Make a hearty vegetarian soup from the pumpkin flesh, fusing this New World fruit with exotic spices from North Africa.  

Moroccan Pumpkin Soup
Adapted from Christine Benlafquih

  • 4 cups cubed pumpkin
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, minced
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp. Ras El Hanout or make your own with the recipe below.
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • Honey to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  1. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a pot.
  2. Add the onion and garlic.
  3. Cook over medium heat until golden.
  4. Add the pumpkin, chickpeas, broth, spices, and honey.
  5. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for about 15 minutes.

Serve with fresh, warm pita bread.

If you would like to make your own Ras El Hanout spice mixture combine:

  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves

What can you do with the remaining pumpkin flesh and peel?  You may be inspired by a Japanese specialty called Kabocha No Nimono or Simmered Pumpkin.  It is traditional not to peel the pumpkin when preparing this dish.

Kabocha No Nimono
Adapted from Serakitty

  • 8 cups of diced pumpkin flesh and peel
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup dried mushrooms (preferably Shiitake)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  1. Place all the ingredients in a pot.  
  2. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 15 minutes.  May be served hot or cold.

Kabocha No Nimono is wonderful side dish for Thanksgiving.  Its earthy sweet and salty mushroom flavor makes this a favorite fall comfort food.

The first way to demonstrate thankfulness for our bounty is by not being wasteful.  We say this blessing of gratitude for having a whole pumpkin:

Ba-ruch a-tah A-do-nai E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ha-o-lam,
bo-rei p’ri ha-a-da-mah.

Blessed are You, HaShem, our God, King of the Universe,
who creates the fruit of the earth.