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Tropical Tzimmes

Here’s a tropical twist on a classic recipe for the Jewish Holidays, Tropical Tzimmes! (Photos from Deborah Brooks)


Tropical Tzimmes. An oxymoron of food terminology.

Tzimmes, for those of you not familiar with this favorite Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) dish, is a mixture of root vegetables and dried fruits slow cooked in a sweetened sauce, somewhat similar to Thanksgiving candied yams. Sweet foods are eaten on Rosh Hashanah to symbolize the desire for a sweet new year ahead. The dish’s origins are from the Ashkenazi Jews of Russia and Eastern Europe.

The dried fruits most often used in traditional tzimmes were those that were available in those regions; prunes and apricots. So, no, there was nothing tropical about foods in the Jewish settlements in these often frozen Slavic lands, hence the oxymoron.

I grew up eating the traditional tzimmes slow cooked for hours on the stove by my grandmother in her big aluminum pot. I had set out to share that recipe (minus the aluminum pot) when the bags of dried pineapple and mango caught my eye in the dried fruit section of the market.


I’m all about shaking up tradition when it comes to cooking. After all, many ingredients available to us to use in our kitchens today, were not available to our ancestors. Does that mean we shouldn’t use them? Not according to me!

And so Tzimmes has become Tropical Tzimmes, an amalgam of old and new. Kept the carrots and sweet potatoes, replaced the prunes and apricots with dried pineapple, mango and crystallized ginger. To take it up one more tropical notch I topped the dish with shredded coconut and roasted and salted macadamia nuts.

Wow!!! This recipe is a keeper! So many bursts of flavor with each bite. There’s the sweet chewiness of the pineapple, the bright tang of the mango and the hot snap of the candied ginger melded with the earthy creaminess of the carrots and sweet potatoes all enrobed in a brown sugar/date syrup caramel like sauce topped with salty nuts! I may have just reinvented the wheel for Rosh Hashanah and Thanksgiving. I hope you’ll try this new twist on tradition.

A Happy and Sweet New Year to all who celebrate!

Tropical Tzimmes
Serves 8-12

6 cups peeled sweet potatoes cut in small wedges
6 cups carrots cut in small wedges
3 oz. salted vegan butter, melted
½ tsp kosher salt
Zest of 2 oranges
2/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (3 oranges)
1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
1/4 packed cup organic brown sugar
2 T date syrup*
8 oz. sweetened dried pineapple chunks
3 oz. unsweetened dried mango slices snipped into smaller pieces
3 oz. crystallized ginger chunks

1 oz. unsweetened shredded coconut
1 oz. macadamia broken into pieces**


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with the rack in the center.

In a large glass or ceramic baking pan (I used a 15 x 10 x 2 Pyrex) grease the bottom and sides with one tablespoon of the melted butter.

In a large bowl toss the sweet potatoes and carrots with the remaining butter and salt and coat well.

Add the zest, orange juice, lemon juice, brown sugar and date syrup and toss to combine making sure to dissolve the brown sugar.

Transfer to the buttered pan. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and roast for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the oven.

Move the rack to the top third of the oven.

Stir in the dried pineapple, mango and ginger to the carrot/sweet potato mix and return the pan to the oven, uncovered.

Roast another 30 minutes or until the veggies are soft and starting to brown, stirring every 10 minutes.

Turn up the oven to broil and get a bit of char to the veggies, about 5 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Immediately remove from the oven and let rest 5–10 minutes.

Transfer to a serving bowl and top with some of the coconut and macadamia nuts. Serve additional coconut and macadamias on the side.

*Date syrup, replaces honey, the sweetener of choice for Rosh Hashanah because honey is not vegan. It’s absolutely delicious! I find it to be like a sweeter version of molasses with a finish similar to balsamic glaze. It’s available at most markets and online. You can replace the date syrup with maple syrup but the end result will be a bit different.

** To break up the macadamia nuts put them in a sealed plastic sandwich bag and pound gently with a mallet or rolling pin to desired consistency.


All the ingredients for Tropical Tzimmes.


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Deborah Brooks
Deborah Brooks
Deborah is currently a documentary film producer. She is also a former certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition coach. The shutdown of business due to Covid-19 and the implication of an animal wet market connection caused her to rethink her high animal protein food lifestyle. She has spent the last year exploring the world of plant based eating for her own health as well as the health of the planet and all of its sentient beings. Her recipes can be found on Instagram. She would love you to follow along on her journey.

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