Healthy Homemade: Rosh Hashanah Farfel

Have a sweet New Year!

Rosh Hashanah is my favorite holiday. The Jewish New Year, it’s the perfect mix of New Year’s and Thanksgiving with a big family get-together and, of course, lots of food. After all, it is a Jewish holiday. No one will go hungry.

For us Jews, food is an important medium through which to celebrate and express our culture. On Rosh Hashanah, the traditional challah bread is baked in a round shape to signify the cycle of each year and life itself, while apples and honey are eaten in order to issue in a sweet new year. I love all of the food my family makes to celebrate – my Nana’s brisket, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffed cabbage – but one of my favorites is farfel. Farfel is a dish made with barley, a grain with a pasta-like consistency, mixed with vegetables, and it is one of the easiest, healthiest dishes to make. If you’re spending the high holidays on campus (or, in my case, abroad), farfel is a simple and delicious way to bring a bit of home to your high holiday festivities on campus.


Rosh Hashanah Farfel
Serves a crowd

Note: My family makes our farfel with white button mushrooms, but you can use any type of mushroom you would like; portabella or cremini mushrooms would work well, or a mixture of different types of mushrooms would be good too! Barley is a versatile grain, so feel free to add different vegetables to yours. Also, if you are vegetarian, vegetable broth can easily be substituted for the chicken broth.

One 12-ounce bag of barley
1 large onion, minced
1 package mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 can chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 350°.

In a medium saucepan, cook the barley in boiling water until the barley is soft, about 15 to 20 minutes. Once the barley is cooked, drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. In a large skillet, add just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan, between 2 and 3 tablespoons, depending on the skillet. Sauté the onion until transparent. Add the chopped mushrooms to the onion and cook until brown and wilted.

Grease a casserole dish and place the barley in the dish. Add the onion and mushroom mixture to the barley and mix well. Pour the can of chicken broth over barley, and bake for 30 minutes until nice and toasted brown on the top.

L’Shanah Tovah!

Sarah McAnaw is a junior at American University where she’s working towards getting a degree in International Studies and cooking for friends. She is studying in Florence, Italy this fall where she is immersing herself in art, culture and, of course, authentic Italian cooking.


Originally posted on Monday, September 26th, 2011

3 Responses to “Healthy Homemade: Rosh Hashanah Farfel”

  1. Elisha

    September 27th, 2011

    Thanks, it’s hard to find a really easy recipe like this, and I’m vegan so finding farfel kugel that doesn’t have eggs is difficult too. Looks like the only seasoning will come from the broth … any tips on other herbs and seasonings I could add to this?

  2. Sarah McAnaw

    September 28th, 2011

    Thanks Elisha! I’m glad I could help you find a recipe that you can be enjoyed by vegans. Farfel is so basic you can pretty much add whatever you’d like to it – if you’re looking for more flavor, I would recommend adding a some fresh thyme. Depending on how potent you want your farfel, you could also add chopped rosemary or oregano as well as any dried herbs such has herbs de provence, all of which would blend nicely with the earthy flavor of the mushrooms.

    Hope that helps!

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    September 30th, 2011

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