This year Rosh Hashanah is celebrated in the final weeks of summer, at the end of the sun’s brilliant run when the air is weighted down by the heat and end-of-summer responsibilities. It’s only natural that when it comes to end-of-summer cooking and food preparation that taste buds seek light refreshing textures and flavors. A fresh and delicious salad is a good place to start when putting together a late summer Rosh Hashanah meal.

In the Arugula-Date-Pomegranate Salad, arugula leaves sharply underscore the all-out sweetness of the chopped dried dates (recommended by the Talmud for a good New Year); toasted walnuts add crunch and a rich earthy note. And the Pomegranate Vinaigrette the salad is tossed in, is sweet, sour, fruity and refreshingly invigorating. It’s just the thing to awaken and stimulate your taste buds for the meal and New Year ahead.

Honey brined grilled chicken requires a little bit of prep work at the outset. But the brine that the chicken soaks in is not complicated to concoct, and is made with readily available ingredients. Submerging the chicken overnight in the honey brine results in grilled chicken that is irresistibly juicy and well flavored, and remains so even after subsequent reheating. The brining is low maintenance, but does require some planning, so it’s not a last minute option. But the results are worth the (small) effort.

Apple Onion Relish is a kind of American northeast tzimmes utilizing the crop that is about to enter the height of its season to its sweet and tart end. It adds a nice crisp bite when served with the juicy and richly flavored chicken or when mixed into rice or quinoa as a side dish.

Because of the general healthfulness of the menu, a case can be made for having a sweet and slightly indulgent ending to the meal. Apple Butter Oat Bars are richly flavored with apple butter and sweet cinnamon vegan oatmeal shortbread (no eggs, or dairy). The crumbs are so tender they melt in your mouth, leaving you to the thick sweet, slightly chewy apple butter. The recipe easy enough to get the kids to make and hands-on enough for them to enjoy making it.

Pomegranate Vinaigrette (P)

3 tablespoon pomegranate molasses*
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1-2 tablespoon water
1/2 cup water extra-virgin olive oil

Combine every ingredient except for olive oil in a medium sized jar. Tightly secure the lid and vigorously shake the dressing until well combined and deeply colored. Add olive oil in a steady stream, and then shake well to emulsify.

*Pomegranate molasses can be found in most kosher supermarkets in the middle eastern section.

Arugula Date Pomegranate Salad (P)

Arugula Date Pomegranate Salad

Arugula Date Pomegranate Salad

4 oz. arugula leaves
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1/4 -1/2 cup thinly sliced pitted dried dates
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts

Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl so that all elements are evenly dispersed.

Toss the salad in the Pomegranate Vinaigrette (See above.)

Garnish with pomegranate seeds, farro, or feta cheese if the menu is dairy.

Honey Brined Grilled Chicken

Honey Brined Grilled Chicken

Honey Brined Grilled Chicken

6 cups water
1/2 cup honey
6 tablespoons kosher salt
5 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
4 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 1/2-3 lbs. chicken pieces (bone-in breasts, thighs, drumsticks)

To make brine: In a large pot combine 2 cups of water, the honey, salt, brown sugar, and mustard. Cook over medium heat and stir until sugar and salt dissolves. Stir in remaining 4 cups of water, and allow to cool in fridge.

When the brining liquid is cold (you can expedite this cooling down process by adding ice to the pot) add the chicken pieces to the pot. Cover and return to fridge and let marinate overnight or for 12 hours (you can marinate to great result up to 24 hours).

Once chicken is sufficiently brined, remove chicken from liquid to a platter, discard brining liquid. Grease your grill rack and place chicken pieces, bone sides up, on rack over medium flame. Cover and grill for 30-45 minutes turning a couple of times, or until the center of the chicken is cooked through.

Reheat at 350F.

Apple Onion Relish (P)

2 shallots, or 1 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 apples, skin left on, diced
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium saucepan combine shallots, apple juice, vinegar, honey, and sugar. Cook and stir intermittently over medium heat until it begins to boil, reduce and simmer for 7-8 minutes. Add diced apples, and let cook, stirring occasionally for 10-12 minutes. Or until apples are tender but still hold their shape. Season to taste with salt, pepper, or red chili flakes.

Apple Butter Oat Bars (P)

Apple Butter Oat Bars (P)

Apple Butter Oat Bars (P)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup Earth Balance, at room temperature (not soft)
1 1/2 cup apple butter

Line a 9 x 13” baking dish with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350F

In a large bowl mix together flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

With your hands work in Earth Balance until large dough chunks form.

Press two-thirds of batter onto bottom of prepared pan. Spread thickly and evenly with apple butter. Crumble the remaining dough over the apple butter layer. Bake until lightly browned, approximately 45 minutes.

Cut into bars once cooled.

Rachel Harkham is a recipe developer, food writer and cookbook author. Visit her at www.reciperachel.com.