Pascale’s Kitchen: Class with zero effort

Here are some delicious, elegant recipes that look like they take hours to prepare:

 Pasta shells stuffed with meat (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Pasta shells stuffed with meat
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

When I don’t have the time or desire to bother making a complex Shabbat meal, I pull out my easygoing recipes, which look like I worked for hours on preparing them.

When I’m short on time and do not have enough energy after a busy and stressful week, I pull out of my recipe repertoire some successful dishes that can be made in no time. They make it look like I worked for hours, but most importantly they are loved by my family and acquaintances.

In this spirit I have chosen to offer you the three recipes this week. The first recipe, which I recommend to prepare for every Shabbat meal, is for lightly sweet rolls. This time, to change things up, I shaped them into a flower shape, and after brushing them with a beaten egg I sprinkled some poppy seeds, black sesame seeds and light sesame seeds on them. After baking, beautiful rolls came out, as you can see in the photos. You can make the rolls in any shape you want: spiral, snail, ties, small braids that close into a loaf, or you can just settle for round rolls.

For more stories, click here >>

For the main course I chose to make bass. This recipe can also be prepared with sea bream. Instead of a spicy red sauce, I decided to make the fish with vegetables in the oven. I used a wide pan, which can be placed in the center of the table when it’s ready. I placed the fish on a rich bed of vegetables and herbs and sent all this goodness to bake, soften and brown in the oven, until there was a soft, fluffy texture, which everyone complimented.

Alongside the fish I made wide pasta shells. This dish was created in my kitchen when I received a package of huge pasta shells. I examined them carefully and decided that the best and most beautiful way to serve them is to fill them with meat and bake them in tomato sauce. After filling the shells with spicy ground meat filling, I arranged them on a bed of vegetables and poured a spicy tomato sauce over them. After it cane out, I had a beautiful looking dish with a wonderful taste.

Pasta shells stuffed with meat

Use a 23x30 cm pan.

2 Tbsp. olive oil1 large onion, finely chopped500 gr. ground beef1 egg, beaten3 sprigs parsley, finely chopped3 sprigs coriander, finely chopped4 sprigs basil, finely chopped2 cloves garlic, mincedSalt and pepper, to taste500 gr. pasta shells

For lining the pan:

2 tomatoes, sliced1 cup spinach (optional)

For sauce:

2 Tbsp. olive oil1 onion, finely chopped3 Tbsp. grated tomato4 garlic cloves, minced1 to 1-1/2 cups of water1/4 tsp. sugar3 leaves basil, finely chopped1/2 tsp. spicy red pepper1 Tbsp. sweet paprikaSalt and pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a pan, add the chopped onion and fry until golden brown. Add the meat and crumble while frying, until a grayish mixture is obtained.

Transfer to a medium bowl, add the egg, stir and add the parsley, coriander, basil, garlic, salt and pepper. Stir into a uniform mixture, taste and adjust seasoning.

Take the meat filling and fill the pasta shells.

Grease the pan, line it with tomato slices and spinach leaves. Arrange the stuffed shells next to each other densely in the pan.

For the sauce: Heat oil in a medium pan and fry the onion until golden. Add the tomato paste and the rest of the ingredients while stirring, until a uniform mixture is obtained. Bring to a boil and cook on low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. 

Pour the sauce over the stuffed shells in the pan and coat everything with the liquids of the sauce. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a hot oven preheated to medium heat (356° F or 180° C) for about 30 minutes, until the dish is browned, soft and creamy. Serve hot.

Difficulty level: Easy to mediumTime: 1 hourStatus: Meat

 Fish on a bed of vegetables (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Fish on a bed of vegetables (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Fish on a bed of vegetables

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

1 large red onion4 colorful peppers2 medium carrots200 gr. small cherry tomatoes or mixed tomatoes2 heads of garlic, cut in half1/2 cup black olives, pitted1/4 cup capers1 lemon, cut into eighths3 to 4 bass or sea bream, whole2 to 4 stems of thyme3 to 4 leaves of basilSalt and pepper, to taste1/4 cup dry white wine1/2 cup olive oil

Cut the onion into thin slices, the carrots into diagonal slices or rings and the peppers into cubes, strips or large and coarse pieces. Sprinkle the chopped vegetables in the pan.

Place the cherry tomatoes and garlic head halves around the vegetables and sprinkle the olives, capers and lemon eighths around them.

Make two or three grooves in each fish with a knife, on both sides. Place the fish in the center of the bed of vegetables. Sprinkle the thyme stems and basil leaves around them. Sprinkle a little salt (do not overdo it, the olives and capers are salty enough) and ground black pepper.

Pour the white wine and oil and cover the pan with baking paper and place aluminum foil on top. Close tightly. Place in a preheated oven at medium-high heat (392° F or 200° C). Bake for 25-30 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and baking paper and brown the fish and vegetables for another 10-15 minutes, according to your taste. 

Serve hot with any favorite side dish: rice, potatoes, wheat, etc.

Difficulty level: EasyTime: 30 to 40 minutesStatus: Pareve 

 Luxurious, lightly sweet rolls (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Luxurious, lightly sweet rolls (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Luxurious, lightly sweet rolls

Makes 30 to 32 rolls.

1 kg. flour, sifted50 gr. wet yeast (or 2 Tbsp. dry yeast)1/2 cup sugar1 Tbsp. silan or honey1/2 cup oil2 Tbsp. margarine or butter, softened1 tsp. salt1 egg2 to 3 1/2 cups lukewarm water

For brushing:

1 egg, beaten

For sprinkling:

1/2 cup poppy seeds1/2 cup black sesame seeds1/2 cup sesame seeds

In a bowl, mix the flour, yeast, sugar, oil, silan, margarine, salt and egg. Add the water gradually, while kneading. Knead until the dough is uniform and smooth. Leave to rise in a warm place for an hour and a half, until the dough doubles in volume.

Divide the dough into 30 to 32 equal parts. Form the desired shape from each part (flower, snail, screw or circle). Note that the number of rolls will vary depending on the size and shape.

Place the rolls in a greased pan or a pan lined with baking paper. Let them rise in a warm place for 20 minutes. Gently brush the rolls with beaten egg and sprinkle alternately with the poppy seeds and the light and black sesame seeds. Bake in a preheated oven over medium-high heat (392° F or 200° C) for about 25 minutes.

Difficulty level: Easy to mediumTime: About 2.5 hours (including rising)Status: Pareve

Translated by Tzvi Joffre.