July 16, 2019

Must-Have Recipes for a Shavuot Feast

At the end of the second PASSOVER seder, we begin the counting of
the Omer, commemorating the 49 days between leaving Egypt and receiving the Torah. As it is written in Proverbs, “The Torah is a Tree of Life.” Images of trees and flowers recall the Torah and celebrate the season we received it. We decorate our yom tov tables with leaves and flowers and all things spring-like. Grateful for the blessing of the rains we’ve had this year, here and in Israel, gardens are resplendent: There’s a bounty of fresh flowers on the hillsides, fruits on the trees and vegetables ripe for the picking.

Shavuot is a real bonanza for those of us who love a lighter cuisine, as dairy and pareve dishes traditionally rule the menu for this holiday, although this varies according to custom. I can’t help but admire the Technicolor brilliance in the produce department and thoroughly enjoy the novelty of making it the star of my holiday meals. As wonderful and traditional as meat is, I won’t even miss it as I behold the wonder of the season that I bring to my Shavuot table.

Gluten-free, dairy-free/vegan recipes are marked with an asterisk.

MULTICOLORED TOMATOES WITH MOZZARELLA CHEESE
The multicolored tomatoes in the markets right now are beautiful and flavorful. It’s tempting to use only multicolored tomatoes but I also like the way red tomatoes showcase the white cheese, so I use a box of red and a box of multicolored. Make sure that each tomato you use is firm and fresh. This salad is best made the day you serve it. Leftovers are great in an omelet. 

1 basket multicolored cherry tomatoes
1 basket red cherry or currant tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 or 2 tablespoons balsamic or apple cider vinegar
1 8-ounce ball mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes*
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, slivered, or 2 teaspoons dried oregano
Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste

Halve the cherry tomatoes and place them in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, vinegar, mozzarella cheese cubes, capers and oregano. Season generously with salt and pepper and toss gently until well combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 6-8.

*Vegan cheese or half a can of drained and sliced green Israeli olives can substitute for cheese. 

GREEN FATTOUSH SALAD WITH MINT VINAIGRETTE

Adapted from a recipe from Einat Admony, Wall Street Journal

This Green Fattoush Salad is amazing. The mint and the cucumbers are so refreshing, and it’s nice to see our Passover maror, Romaine lettuce, sweetened for Shavuot. I usually make double the amount of dressing because it is so good and so versatile.

Salad:

3 small Persian cucumbers, quartered, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
10 whole mint leaves, cut into julienne strips
10 cups romaine lettuce leaves, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
7-ounce bag of arugula
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
4-6 red radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced
1 cup crumbled pita chips or Ara-Z
Sangak (available at kosher stores Pico Glatt or Glatt Mart)*

Dressing:

1/3 cup lemon or lime juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup
10 whole mint leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
3/8 cup canola or safflower oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch white pepper
Kosher salt, to taste

Salad:

Not more than a day before serving, place all salad ingredients (except the avocado and chips) into a large salad bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving, add the avocado and chips, dress the salad and toss gently until the salad is thoroughly coated with dressing. Serve immediately.

Dressing:

Place all dressing ingredients into a food processor or blender. Process until the dressing is bright green and smooth. Add kosher salt to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Allow the dressing to come to room temperature and shake well before adding to the salad.

Serves 8.

*Terra Chips can substitute for chips. 

MOROCCAN CARROT SALAD WITH ORANGES

Multicolored carrots are available at Costco, Trader Joe’s and farmer’s markets. I recommend using regular orange carrots and one each of yellow and red carrots with Cara Cara, navel and blood oranges. 

1 pound regular or multicolored carrots, peeled, cut in 1/4-inch rounds
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1/4 teaspoon each, ground paprika, turmeric, cumin, garlic powder and coriander
Pinch of ground chipotle chili pepper or cayenne pepper
Half a blood orange, peeled, seeded, cut into bite-sized pieces
Half a Cara Cara orange, peeled, cut into bite-sized pieces
Half a navel orange, peeled, cut into bite-sized pieces
Italian parsley, for garnish (optional)
Garlic chives, for garnish (optional)

In a saucepan, boil 1/2 cup water. Add in carrot slices and a teaspoon of kosher salt. Return to a boil, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until just tender. Drain and reserve. 

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon or lime juice and spices. Add the reserved carrot slices and citrus slices and toss gently until well combined. Garnish with either chopped Italian parsley or garlic chives and a wedge of lemon or lime. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 6-8.

PISSALADIÈRE 

This is a dramatic main course. There are many recipes for this rustic classic that originated in southern France. Only some feature mustard and cheese, so it may be more traditional to omit them, which also works well for vegans. For people who don’t eat anchovies, which are traditional for this dish, red peppers can be substituted.

Topping, Step 1:
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 large, brown onions, trimmed, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 bay leaf

Topping, Step 2:

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard (optional)
8 ounces shredded Swiss cheese* (optional)
1 tin anchovies, drained or 3 red peppers, roasted, cut into strips
Pitted ripe olives such as Kalamata
Dried oregano, for garnish (optional)
Red pepper flakes, for garnish (optional)

Crust:

1 pound prepared pizza dough** or 1 14- to 16-ounce sheet of puff pastry, thawed

Topping, Step 1:

Over medium-low heat in a large skillet, warm the 4 tablespoons of olive oil, add the onions, salt, thyme, pepper and bay leaf and cook until the onions are very soft and translucent, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Reserve.

Crust: If using pizza dough, generously sprinkle a half-sheet pan or large cookie sheet with yellow cornmeal. On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough to completely and evenly fill the pan. 

If using puff pastry, line a half-sheet pan or cookie sheet with baking parchment and spray it with non-stick cooking spray. Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface until thin (about 1/8-inch thick) and the size of the pan. Carefully place it in the prepared pan. 

Topping, Step 2:

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Spread the mustard over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the diameter. For a golden finish, apply an egg wash (1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon of water) on the border. Sprinkle the mustard with the shredded cheese. Spoon reserved onions evenly over the cheese Create a lattice design over the onions with either anchovies or red pepper strips, using the olives as accents. 

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is golden and the topping is bubbling. May be served hot, warm or at room temperature. Have dried oregano and red pepper flakes on the table for garnish.

Serves 10-12.

*Vegan cheese can be substituted for Swiss cheese.

**Gluten-free pizza dough can be substituted for pizza dough.

SCALLION SALMON AND GREEN GODDESS DIPPING SAUCE

This recipe features scallion greens crisped over roasted salmon. It’s a savory main course for a dairy or pareve meal. For a meat meal, it’s a nice first course that presents beautifully. It can be cooked in two fillets as in the recipe or in individual portions. 

Salmon:

10 pounds salmon, bones and skin removed, in 2 fillets
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons honey
4 bunches of scallions, greens only, coarsely chopped (reserve the white part of the onions for sauce)

Preheat the oven to 475 F, and position a rack at the center of the oven.

Line large cookie sheet (with sides) with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place the two salmon fillets, skinned side down, side by side on the prepared pan.

In small bowl, combine remaining ingredients, except scallions, and spread evenly on the fillets. Pack chopped scallion greens onto the fillets until they are uniformly covered in green.

Roast the salmon for 7 minutes in preheated oven and then reduce the temperature to 350 F convection or 385 F conventional for 20-25 minutes more (or 15-17 minutes for salmon cut into individual serving sizes), or until the thickest part of the fillet is just firm. Remove from the oven to cool.

Serves 18-20.

Green Goddess Dipping Sauce: 

Excellent served as a dip with crudités or roasted asparagus, broccoli or zucchini, or as salad dressing. 

3 tablespoons fresh lemon (or lime) juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (or 2 tablespoons dried parsley)
1/2 cup sliced green onions (use white and light green parts only)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon (or 10 leaves fresh tarragon)
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Add all ingredients (except olive oil) to a food processor or blender and process until pureed. In a very slow, steady stream, add the olive oil. The dressing should be creamy in texture.  Refrigerate until ready to use, for up to 3 days. As the sauce cools, it magically sets up like a soft mayonnaise. If it separates after a day or two, shake well. Serve cold.

Makes about 1 cup.

SPINACH FRITTATA

This is the mainstay of my dairy table. If you’re not having a big crowd, make two and freeze one. Because this dish relies solely on eggs and cheese, I don’t have a vegan version of this recipe.

Olive oil

1 medium-sized brown onion, coarsely chopped and sautéed until translucent
3 eggs and 4 egg whites
1 15-ounce container fat-free ricotta or cottage cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
3 16-ounce bags frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained in a colander
4 ounces finely crumbled feta cheese
8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
8 ounces grated Muenster cheese
2 teaspoons kosher salt or to taste
Matzo meal (optional)

Sauté onions in olive oil until translucent.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Grease two 8 x 10 baking pans or one 9 1/2 x 13 1 /2 pan with olive oil and dust with matzo meal if desired. In a large mixing bowl, combine onion, eggs and egg whites, cottage cheese, spices, pepper and salt, to taste, mixing until smooth.

Fold in the thawed spinach, feta and three-quarters of the mozzarella cheese. Pour half of spinach mixture into prepared pan(s) and smooth the top.

Sprinkle most of grated mozzarella and Muenster cheeses (reserving a tablespoon or two of each) on top of spinach layer.

Spoon an even layer of the remaining spinach mixture on top of the grated cheeses and smooth the spinach. Sprinkle spinach with a tablespoon or two of matzo meal (optional) and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil.

Bake for 45-55 minutes. This may take longer, depending on the size and type of pan. Test to make sure that the center of the frittata is “set” and not “liquidy.”

Remove frittata from oven and cool at least 20 minutes before serving. 

Serve warm or at room temperature. Frittata can be double-wrapped tightly with foil and frozen, but it must be thawed before reheating.

Makes 2 frittatas, each serving 6-8, or 1 frittata that serves 12-16.

CLASSIC CHEESECAKE

by Glynis Gerber via Freda Small

Crust:

1 16-ounce package graham crackers, finely crushed
1 cube butter, melted

Combine crushed graham crackers with melted butter. Press the crumb mixture on the bottom and sides of a 9-inch diameter spring-form pan.

Filling:

48 ounces cream cheese
3 eggs
2 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Using an electric mixer, cream together the cream cheese and the eggs. Slowly add sugar and vanilla and continue beating 10 minutes.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, 15 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the cake inside another half hour.

Then, leaving the cake in the oven, open the oven door and allow the cake to continue cooling there for another 1/2 hour to prevent cracking.

Garnish:

A topping of a pint of sour cream can be spread over the top of the cool cake. Garnish with strawberries, blueberries or raspberries. Slice the strawberries and fan or mound them on the sour cream before serving.

A center of fresh blueberries framed with a row of raspberries also can top the sour cream layer.

For chocolate lovers, try a drizzle of hot fudge and a border of chocolate kisses. Or chocolate curls can be placed in the center of the cake.  

Serves 12-16.

Enjoy that spring produce, enjoy the colors and the textures. Enjoy the holiday.


Debby Segura lives in Los Angeles. She designs dinnerware and textiles, and teaches cooking classes. See more recipes on her website