Cholent for hot days

The standard Shabbat afternoon fare can be transformed into a high-protein salad.

summer cholent 224 (photo credit: )
summer cholent 224
(photo credit: )
Some people insist on a hot, rib-sticking bowl of cholent or hamin no matter how steamy the Shabbat weather. But if you prefer a lighter, summery alternative, you might like to try a cool take on the cholent theme. I'm not telling you to serve your cholent cold, heaven forbid! But if French chefs can turn their classic bouillabaisse into a salad, why can't we do the same with our beloved cholent? To create your own version, simply make use of packaged cholent bean mixture, or of any selection of beans you like as the basis for a nutritious, high-protein salad that will be most welcome on a warm day. Or, for a faster option that doesn't require cooking dried beans, just open a can. For the remaining elements for this whole-meal salad, you can use the typical cholent ingredients. If you like cholent with potatoes or barley, they'll work fine in the salad too. For the meat component, add some cooked chicken or beef, or for a quick and easy substitute, choose ready-to-eat grilled chicken from the supermarket or deli or cold cuts like smoked turkey breast or roast beef. As for flavorings, if you tend to accent your cholent with sauteed onions, they'll add a tasty lift to your cholent salad too. If you like spices like cumin or paprika, add them to the dressing. No matter what version I choose, I enjoy it topped with halved hard-boiled eggs, to simulate the brown eggs in many versions of Sephardic hamin. If you've ever tried cooking vegetables in hamin, you know they lose their texture and much of their color after spending all night in the oven. However, your cholent salad can be colorful instead of the usual "cholent brown" because you can add a variety of fresh or lightly cooked vegetables. Cooked green beans and roasted peppers are good choices, as are diced fresh tomatoes. To further enliven the salad, finish it with chopped fresh herbs. Like traditional cholent, your salad can be assembled in advance, ready when you want it for a tasty Shabbat lunch that's hearty but not heavy. COOKED BEANS You do not need to soak the beans before cooking them. Save cooking liquid; it's good for vegetable soups and stews. 400 to 450 gr. bean mix for cholent or dried red, white or pink beans (21⁄4 to 21⁄2 cups), sorted and rinsed 7 cups water Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add beans and return to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat for 1 hour. Add a pinch of salt and cook for 15 to 30 more minutes or until beans are just tender. If cooking the beans in advance, keep them in their cooking liquid. Makes 6 to 8 servings. MEATLESS CHOLENT SALAD WITH GOLDEN POTATOES AND YEMENITE FLAVORS Cumin, garlic and hot pepper relish (s'hug) flavor the olive oil dressing for this salad. To give the potatoes an appealing golden color, cook them in water flavored with a pinch of turmeric, a favorite Yemenite spice. If you like, add a pinch of turmeric to the water for cooking the beans also. 1 to 11⁄2 cups bean mix for cholent, or 1 cup dried white or red beans or mixture of any dried beans 700 gr. boiling potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled 1⁄2 tsp. turmeric salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 to 3 Tbsp. strained fresh lemon juice 1 to 11⁄2 tsp. ground cumin, or more to taste 1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced 1⁄2 tsp. s'hug, or to taste, or 1 or 2 hot green peppers, minced 1 to 2 Tbsp. water 4 to 6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 1⁄2 cup chopped green onions 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh cayenne pepper to taste (optional) 4 small tomatoes, cut in wedges or in small dice 3 to 6 hard boiled eggs, shelled Cook beans (see recipe for cooked dried beans above). Put potatoes in large saucepan, cover with water by about 1.25 cm. and add turmeric and salt. Bring to boil. Cover and simmer over low heat about 25 minutes, or until a knife can pierce center of largest potato easily and potato falls from knife when lifted. Meanwhile prepare dressing: In a bowl large enough to contain potatoes and beans, whisk lemon juice with a pinch of salt, black pepper, cumin, garlic, s'hug, and water. Add 4 tablespoons olive oil and whisk again. Drain potatoes and leave just until cool enough to handle. Peel them and cut in 1.25-cm. dice. Add to bowl. Fold gently but thoroughly with dressing. Let cool. Drain cooked beans and add to potatoes. Fold in green onions and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning; add cayenne pepper and another 1 or 2 tablespoons oil if desired. Season the salad well so the beans and potatoes won't be bland. Use tomato wedges to garnish salad; or, if you have cut the tomatoes in dice, gently fold them into salad. Cut hard-boiled eggs in half lengthwise and set atop salad. Serve at room temperature. Makes 4 to 6 servings. CHICKEN CHOLENT SALAD WITH BARLEY AND FRESH HERBS For a colorful addition, stir in strips of roasted red peppers, homemade or from a jar. You can also add 1 or 2 cups cooked fresh or frozen green beans; add them shortly before serving so the lemon juice won't cause them to discolor. 1 cup pearl barley 21⁄2 cups water 1 large onion, sliced, or 1⁄2 cup chopped green onions 3 to 5 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, to taste 21⁄2 cups cooked dried red or white beans, cholent bean mix or chickpeas (see recipe for cooked dried beans above) or two 425-gr. cans beans, drained, rinsed 21⁄2 to 3 cups diced cooked chicken or turkey 1 to 3 Tbsp. strained fresh lemon juice, to taste salt and freshly ground pepper 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried leaf thyme 1 tsp. dried leaf oregano, crumbled 1⁄3 cup chopped parsley, dill or fresh coriander lettuce leaves (optional) 3 to 6 hard boiled eggs, shelled and halved lengthwise Bring 21⁄2 cups water to a boil with a pinch of salt in a heavy saucepan. Add barley, cover and simmer over low heat about 40 minutes or until barley is tender. Drain off any excess liquid. Transfer barley to a large bowl and let cool. If using a sliced onion, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a skillet, add the onion and sauté over medium heat, stirring often, for 7 to 10 minutes or until browned. Add sautéed onion or chopped green onions to barley. Drain cooked beans and add to barley. Add chicken. In a small bowl whisk remaining oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add to salad. Sprinkle with thyme, oregano and half the parsley and fold them in. Taste and adjust seasoning; be sure to season the salad well so the beans and barley won't be bland. Serve on a bed of lettuce, if you like, and sprinkle with remaining parsley. Garnish with halved hard-boiled eggs. Makes 4 to 6 servings. Faye Levy is the author of Healthy Cooking for the Jewish Home.