Sukkot Chicken Roll With Kale Filling and Tomato Apricot Sauce (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Sukkot Chicken Roll With Kale Filling and Tomato Apricot Sauce (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Dinner in the sukkah: try this spice-packed chicken rolo

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Chicken Rolo with Kale Filling and Tomato-Apricot Sauce is perfect for dinner under the sukkah this Sukkot, which begins at sundown Oct. 9.

The rolo, or meatloaf, combines Italian, Sephardic and Persian Jewish foodways. Its filling symbolizes the abundance and plenty celebrated by the ancient harvest festival.

The tangy sauce is flavored with Persian black lime powder (noomi), which adds a smoky, citrus flavor. It is available in Middle Eastern stores, spice markets and specialty markets or online. See recipe for substitute. Both the sauce and filling can be made ahead and refrigerated. Use at room temperature.

Select ground chicken with 7 to 8 percent fat — or grind boneless, skinless chicken thighs in a food processor. Do not use ground chicken breast.

Chicken Rolo with Kale Filling and Tomato-Apricot Sauce

Serves 8

  • Oil
  • Kale filling (see below)
  • Tomato-apricot sauce (see below)
  • 2 slices (about 2 oz.) white bread
  • ¾ cup reserved apricot soaking liquid (see filling), or water
  • 2 lbs. ground chicken (7% to 8% fat)
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup grated onion
  • 1 tsp. pressed or grated garlic
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. paprika
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley or mint
  • 2 Tbs. toasted slivered almonds or pine nuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a large baking dish. Have filling and sauce ready.

Cut and discard bread crusts. Place bread in apricot soaking liquid until liquid is absorbed. Squeeze out moisture and discard liquid. Add bread to bowl with chicken, eggs, onion, garlic, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, salt, paprika, black pepper and mint. Mix.

Shape half into a loaf  8-by-4 inches in center of prepared pan. Make a deep channel in the center of the loaf measuring 8 inches long, 2 inches wide and ½ inch deep. Press in kale filling, mounding it above the channel. Pat the remaining chicken-liquid mixture over top and down sides, sealing filling.

Brush ¼ cup of tomato-apricot sauce over top and sides. Reserve remainder.

Bake 45 to 55 minutes, basting with pan liquids occasionally, until loaf is firm and an instant-read thermometer inserted into loaf’s base reads 165 degrees. Let rest 10 to 20 minutes. Use two spatulas to move loaf to serving platter. Reheat sauce. Pour half on top. Garnish with parsley and almonds. Serve with remaining sauce.

Kale filling: Place ½ cup dried apricots in bowl. Cover with boiling water. Drain when soft, reserving liquid for “apricot soaking liquid” (see above). Chop apricots into ¼-inch pieces. In large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 Tbs. oil. Sauté 1 cup chopped onion until softened. Sauté 1 tsp. minced garlic until golden. Stir in ½ tsp. crumbled dried mint, ¼ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. ground black pepper, ¼ tsp. ground cumin, ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon, ⅛ tsp. ground allspice and ⅛ tsp. ground clove. Add 3 cups chopped kale or chard (¼-inch pieces) and ¼ cup reserved apricot soaking liquid. Sauté until kale is tender. Stir in 1 Tbs. tomato paste and chopped apricots. Taste, add ¼ tsp. sugar if kale is bitter. Add salt, if desired. Stir in 2 Tbs. toasted slivered almonds or pine nuts just before using.

Tomato-apricot sauce: Put 15-oz. can plain tomato sauce and ⅓ cup apricot jam in small pot over medium-low heat. Stir until simmering and jam is dissolved. Stir in ¼ tsp. salt and ½ tsp. black lime powder (or 2 Tbs. grated lemon zest in place of black lime powder). Add 1 Tbs. lemon juice (use 2 Tbs. if not using black lime powder). Return to simmer. Simmer for several minutes, stirring often. Taste. Add salt or lemon juice, if needed.

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is Contact her at [email protected].