Which foods are good for fasting?

When preparing for Yom Kippur, it's important to think about what to eat before and after a long day of prayer.

October 3, 2011 22:53
Semolina bread

Semolina bread 311. (photo credit: whatscookingamerica.net)


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Even in preparing for Yom Kippur, we need to talk about food. We need to eat before and after the long day of prayer. 

Bread and soup, both before and after the fast, can be satisfying and filling but not over the top. Here are some of our favorites.

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Semolina bread

Adapted from the Silver Palate Cookbook, this is the perfect bread to serve alongside soup.

2 teaspoons yeast
2 cups warm water
3 cups semolina flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 to 3 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 to 4 tablespoons cornmeal
1 egg

Pour water over yeast in a bowl and allow yeast to proof. Add semolina flour and salt and stir well. Add two cups of bread flour and stir. Continue adding and kneading flour until dough is smooth and elastic. Pour olive oil over dough and turn to coat. Cover with towel and set aside until dough has tripled in bulk – about 2 hours.

Punch down dough, knead briefly and cover and let rise again until double.


Punch down the dough again, cut it into thirds, and shape each third into a thin loaf about 24 inches long. 

Sprinkle a baking sheet with three to four tablespoons of cornmeal and arrange the loaves on the sheet leaving as much room between the loaves as possible. Cover and let rise for another 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Beat egg with one tablespoon of water and brush on the loaves. Slash loaves decoratively on top with a sharp knife, making diagonal cuts.

Slide the baking sheet onto the middle rack of the oven and reduce heat to 375 degrees. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until loaves are brown and sound hollow when thumped.  Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.

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Italian tomato, bean and bread soup

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium red onions, coarsely chopped
3 carrots, sliced
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 14 ounce canned cannellini beans, or other small white bean, drained and rinsed
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into pieces
1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes
2 ½ cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley
1 pound Tuscan kale or Savoy cabbage, trimmed, washed, and sliced
1 small day old ciabatta loaf, challah bread, or baguette, torn into small pieces
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil, to serve

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions, carrots and celery for 10 -15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook for an additional one -two minutes, until the vegetables are golden and caramelized.

Add the beans and chicken to the pan then pour in the tomatoes. Add enough of the stock to cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the parsley and Tuscan kale and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Stir in the bread and add a little more stock, if needed. The soup should be thick.

Taste and adjust the seasoning. Ladle into warmed serving bowls and serve hot, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.

Onion-poppy seed halla

1 package active dry yeast
¼ cup plus a pinch of sugar
1 ¼ cups warm water (110° to 115°F)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons salt
¼ pound unsalted margarine, melted
4 ½ to 5 cups flour
Poppy Seed-Onion Filling
1 ½ cups finely chopped onion
½ cup poppy seeds
½ teaspoon salt
5 ½ tablespoons unsalted margarine, melted
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.

Dissolve the yeast with a pinch of sugar in ½ cup of the warm water.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend one of the eggs, the ¼ cup sugar, salt and margarine and remaining ¾ cup water.

Blend in the yeast mixture. Add the flour, one cup at a time, mixing until the dough comes together. Pour onto a floured board and knead, adding additional flour, a little at a time, until the dough has a smooth and elastic consistency, five to 10 minutes.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, oil the top of the dough, cover with a towel, let it rise in a warm place until doubled, about one hour.

Punch down the dough. Divide it in half. Roll each half out to a 20 x 4 inch rectangle. Spread each rectangle with the filling (reserving ¼ cup for the top) to within ½ inch of the edges.

Roll each rectangle lengthwise, jelly-roll fashion, to enclose the filling, forming a long rope. Twist the two ropes together. Form dough into a ring. Pinch ends to seal and place on an oiled baking sheet. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350° degrees.

Lightly beat the remaining egg and brush it over the halla. Sprinkle the halla with the reserved filling. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the loaf is golden and sounds a hollow when tapped. Transfer to rack to cool.

Lamb and lentil soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon allspice
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1-1/2 cups lentils, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can tomato purée
2 cups water
6 cups chicken broth
1 pound ground lamb
1 egg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon pepper
4 cups chopped spinach

In a large stockpot, sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil. Add spices and mix well. Add celery and carrots and sauté briefly. Add lentils, tomato purée, water and broth.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for about an hour. Mix together ground lamb, egg, cinnamon and pepper and form into balls.

Add to soup, increase heat slightly and simmer until cooked – about 20 minutes. Stir in spinach.

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