Supper is our time to relax and pamper ourselves with satisfying tasty food to make up for the rushed meals or snacks on the run we might have grabbed at work or at school.
It's also a chance to play nutritional catch-up, to complete the daily quota of produce. Depending on which expert you listen to, we should eat between five and 10 servings of vegetables and fruits every day.
Yet weekday supper preparation usually needs to be speedy. At home we don't have time to garnish each course like fine restaurant chefs. Still, by giving the menu a little thought and choosing colorful elements to compose each dish, the meal can be enticing in its appearance and its variety of tastes and textures.
This menu is easy to cook and low in fat yet substantial. It provides a good selection of wholesome elements in appetizing, tasty courses.
Naturally, starting a meal with a salad is an easy way to make sure family members eat some veggies. A green salad makes a faster-to-fix alternative to the usual Israeli diced vegetable salad. To give the greens pizzazz, use a favorite restaurant trick - top the salad with a little smoked fish. If fish isn't a favorite in your family, try flavorful pitted olives, smoked almonds or roasted nuts instead. Making use of such savory treats turns greens into tempting appetizers, so there's no need to nag anyone to eat his greens.
Chicken-noodle soup is always welcome when the weather gets cooler and is even more appealing with the addition of colorful vegetables. To prepare a tasty yet fast-cooking chicken soup, simmer boneless chicken in packaged chicken broth. The chicken helps not only to reinforce the soup's flavor, but also to provide protein so the soup can be the heart of a satisfying supper. The soup is good accompanied by fresh bread, such as rye bread studded with caraway seeds or fresh whole-wheat pita.
Instead of ending the meal by putting a bowl of fruit on a table, it's nice to take a few extra minutes to make a super-simple fruit salad. Slice two or three kinds of fresh seasonal fruit, moisten the medley with a touch of sweetened citrus juice and embellish it with a small amount of good-quality dried fruit, and the fruit course will feel more like dessert.
SMOKED FISH ON GREEN SALAD
Check your neighborhood deli or the deli department of the supermarket to find ready-to-eat smoked or barbecued fish. Try different kinds of fish as well as different greens, from tender to crunchy, to vary the flavor of this salad. Even canned smoked fish or spicy sardines make a tasty topping. Just a small amount of the fish and a touch of extra virgin olive oil dressing make all the difference in whether eating the greens is a pleasure or a chore.
85 gr. smoked salmon, cod or other
fish (about 3â„4 cup thin strips)
3 cups chopped romaine
2 cups chopped iceberg lettuce or
iceberg salad mix (cut iceberg lettuce
with other greens or with shredded
carrot and red cabbage)
1 green onion, chopped, or 1â„4 cup
thin slivers of white or red onion
1 to 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1â„2 to 1 Tbsp. wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 small tomatoes
Cut fish in thin strips. Toss romaine, iceberg lettuce and onion with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cut tomatoes in eighths; put on lettuce around edge of bowl. Serve salad topped with the fish.
Makes 4 servings.
QUICK CHICKEN-NOODLE SOUP WITH ZUCCHINI AND LEEKS
Leek and carrot slices contribute a fine, delicate taste to this easy-to-make soup. For a richer flavor, simmer boneless chicken legs or thighs in the broth instead of breast meat. If you have cooked chicken or turkey, cut it in bite-size pieces and heat it in the soup for a quicker option.
Instead of soup noodles, you can use small pasta shells or other short pasta shapes. If you happen to have already cooked brown or white rice, bulgur wheat or other grains, substitute them for the noodles. Heat them separately in a covered dish in the microwave and top each soup portion with about 1â„2 cup of the hot cooked grains.
You can use cauliflower or green beans instead of the zucchini. Even faster, use packaged frozen vegetables.
1 large leek, white and light green
450 gr. boneless skinless
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced thin
1 celery rib, sliced (optional)
3 cups chicken broth
additional 21â„2 cups water
1 bay leaf
11â„3 cups fine egg noodles or other
thin soup noodles
3 cups diced zucchini or small
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1â„4 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
1â„2 tsp. dried thyme
salt (optional) and freshly ground
1 to 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
Quarter leek lengthwise and rinse well to remove sand between layers, then dip repeatedly in a bowl of cold water to make sure no sand is left in the leeks. Cut leeks in thin slices.
Trim visible fat from chicken and cut meat in thin strips. In large saucepan combine leek, chicken, carrot, celery, chicken broth, water and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for 5 minutes.
Add noodles, zucchini, garlic and pepper flakes and return to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for 6 minutes or until chicken and noodles are tender. Discard bay leaf. Stir in thyme and black pepper to taste. Taste before adding salt; if broth was salty, it may not be needed. Serve sprinkled with parsley.
Makes 4 servings.
PEAR AND KIWI SALAD WITH DRIED CHERRIES
Equal parts fresh-squeezed lemon juice and honey or sugar makes an easy, tasty dressing for most fruit salads. For adults, you can make the dressing with pear brandy or fruit liqueur instead of the citrus juice.
If your market carries dried cranberries, try them instead of cherries. Otherwise, use plump, moist, good-quality raisins. If the dried fruit is too dry, double the amount of dressing and macerate the fruit in half the dressing while preparing the rest of dinner; then add the dried fruit and its liquid to the salad.
1 Tbsp. strained fresh lemon juice
or 2 tablespoons orange juice
1 Tbsp. honey or sugar
2 or 3 ripe pears
3 Tbsp. dried cherries, dried
cranberries or raisins
Mix lemon juice and honey in a small cup. Peel kiwis and cut in half slices. Transfer to a shallow serving bowl. Core and slice pears; add to serving bowl. Add lemon juice mixture and toss. Add cherries, toss and serve.
Makes 4 servings.
Faye Levy is the author of Healthy Cooking for the Jewish Home.