Pumpkin with Dumplings

Hanna Goodman
Recipe by
Hanna Goodman

Many Sephardi Jewish families eat a series of special foods preceding the Rosh HaShanah meal, in observance of the Talmudic tradition: "Abaye said, if you maintain that symbols are meaningful, every man should acquire the habit of eating pumpkin, fenugreek, leek, beet, and dates on Rosh HaShanah." As these foods grow rapidly, they are considered symbolic of fertility, abundance, and prosperity.

To celebrate the fall harvest, enjoy this dish in the sukkah on Sukkot and throughout the season for festive Shabbat gatherings.

3 pounds pumpkin
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons margarine
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup farina
1/4 cup matzah meal
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons margarine, melted

To cook the pumpkin:

  1. Peel the pumpkin and scrape out the seeds. Wash and cut in 2" pieces. Place the pumpkin in a pot and add the salt, brown sugar, and margarine. 
  2. Sauté over very low heat until the pumpkin is soft. Add the spices and 1/2 cup of water.
  3. Transfer to a casserole, and bake the pumpkin in a 350°F oven for 1/2 hour. 
  4. Add the cooked dumplings and continue to bake for 15 minutes. Serve hot. 

To make the dumplings:

  1. Mix the farina with the matzah meal and salt.
  2. Beat the eggs and add the melted margarine. Beat into the dry ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
  3. In a big pot with a cover, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add a little salt to the water.
  4. Wet hands and form dumplings the size of a walnut. Drop the dumplings into the boiling water. Cover the pot and cook the dumplings for 45 minutes.
  5. Do not remove the cover, but shake the pot so dumplings will not stick to the bottom of the pot.
  6. Drain the dumplings and add to the casserole, placing them in the syrup. Bake for 15 minutes.

Recipe Tester's Tips:

  • Butternut, acorn, and kombucha squash are great substitutes for the pumpkin.
  • You can substitute extra virgin olive oil or butter for the margarine.
  • Cut the quantity of brown sugar by at least half if you prefer less sweetness.
  • Similar to matzah balls, the raw dumpling mixture held together in the boiling water after about 30 minutes in the refrigerator.   

Reprinted with permission from The Rosh Hashanah Anthology: A JPS Classic, edited by Philip Goodman, The Jewish Publication Society, 2018.