Monday, September 16, 2019 -
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Vilna Vegetarian: Rhubarb compote, Salad vinaigrette tested

Who could pass up a compote recipe when perusing an Eastern European Jewish cookbook? Not us! In fact as soon as we decided to craft a Rosh Hashanah menu from The Vilna Vegetarian, we started searching for a compote recipe.

This rhubarb compote is one of Fania Lewando’s recipes that is measured and prepared today exactly as she describes. It’s a simple recipe of water, sugar and fruit, with a unique method for creating as flavorful a syrup as possible. We thought it would make a nice accompaniment to the apple cake for a Rosh Hashanah dessert.

Rhubarb Compote

The only adjustment we made was reducing the sugar by ½ a cup, and it still came out quite sweet. As you can see from the photo, we were only able get a few stalks of the “thickest, reddest rhubarb” that Lewando recommends. Luckily those few stalks were enough to impart a ruby red tinge to the compote.


  1. Peel and dice 1 lb. rhubarb. Cook 1½ C sugar with 2 C water. Add half the diced rhubarb to the syrup, and cook about 12 to 15 minutes. Strain out the rhubarb, and cook the remaining rhubarb in the syrup the same way, making sure it does not overcook. Pour the syrup over all the rhubarb, add ½ vanilla bean, and set aside to chill overnight. You will get the best compote from the thickest, reddest rhubarb.

Salade Vinaigrette

We chose to include this simple side salad in our Rosh Hashanah menu because of its inclusion of beetroot, one of the simanim traditionally eaten as a good luck omen for the year ahead. This salad is reminiscent of the similarly titled Russian vinaigrette salad, though in this version everything is sliced instead of diced, and there’s not a green pea to be seen.


  1. Boil 2 lbs. potatoes and roast 1 lb. beets separately, in their skins. Peel and thinly slice the vegetables. Add 1 thinly sliced Spanish onion and 2 thinly sliced lemons. Add salt and [chopped fresh] dill, and mix well. Serve dressed with [olive] oil and sprinkle with [chopped fresh] dill and green onions.

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