The holidays are over: Take it easy with easy dishes

Although most of us consumed a tremendous amount of sweets over the holidays, Shabbat is still Shabbat and so we must have at least a simple cake.

Simple shabbat cake (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Simple shabbat cake
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
For the last month, all the special recipes I’ve been suggesting have been connected to the holidays and were specifically related to each festival. Now that we are officially “after the holidays,” it’s time to get back to simple, healthy recipes that we can quickly prepare for our families so we can get back to our hectic schedules.
After Succot, I like to prepare vegetarian dishes that are loaded with lots and lots of cooked, steamed and raw vegetables. These recipes need a super short amount of preparation time – literally peel, chop into a few large pieces and toss them in the oven or into a pot and that’s it.
Below, you’ll find a recipe for antipasti, which makes a colorful and nutritious dish. I prepare the vegetables ahead of time, and they can be stored in the fridge for up to three or four days. I love to have cut-up vegetables ready, because it’s so easy to add them to other ingredients for a full meal.
Also below, you’ll find steamed vegetables with thyme and olive oil, as well as crushed potatoes, which is a favorite among children. Since many of us have eaten a lot of meat the last few weeks, I’ve included a recipe for small fish. If you cannot manage to locate a shop with these fish, you can use large fish too. For dessert, I’ve described how to prepare one of my simple cakes that is always good to have around for weekends.
The colorful vegetables of antipasti (literally “before the meal” in Italian) are meant to awaken your taste buds and prepare you for the rest of the meal.
Makes 5-6 servings.
3 bell peppers (red, yellow, green)
3 large spicy peppers
1 large eggplant
1 light green squash
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 basil leaves, chopped
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt
Grill the peppers on a barbecue or stove top over an open flame. Remove the skin, pith and seeds. Don’t rinse the pepper otherwise you’ll be washing away lots of good roasted flavor.
Slice the eggplant and squash and grill or roast them.
Line a serving plate with the roasted vegetable slices, making sure to mix up the colors and types of vegetables.
Season with garlic and basil. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with kosher salt.
This recipe is so simple that I usually refer to it as a mini-recipe.
Makes 4 servings.
500 gr. tomatoes, halved
500 gr. pumpkin, cubed
3-4 sprigs of thyme
3 cloves garlic, crushed (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil
Arrange the tomatoes in one baking tray and the pumpkin in a separate tray. Sprinkle on thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil on top and stir gently so that all the vegetables are covered. Cover with baking paper and then foil, making sure the pan is hermetically sealed.
Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180º for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and baking paper and continue baking for a few more minutes so the vegetables can get a little crispy. Make sure not to let them stay in too much longer, though, or the vegetables will dry out.
Kids just love these crushed potatoes, and the recipe below is bound to bring you lots of compliments from adults, too.
Makes 6-8 servings.
6-8 medium potatoes (best not to use large potatoes)
1 Tbsp. salt
¼ to ½ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
5-6 thyme leaves
Boil potatoes in their skins in a pot of salted water for 40 minutes until they are soft. Drain them and crush each one down gently with a spoon.
Line a tray with baking paper and lay potatoes on it. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and thyme leaves.
Bake in an oven that was preheated to 200º for 25-30 minutes until potatoes are crispy. Remove and serve hot directly from oven still on baking paper.
Spicy red mullet
This is a great appetizer to serve alongside vegetables.
Makes 6 servings.
500 gr. small fish (red mullet or sardines), cleaned
Juice of half a lemon
1 cup flour, sifted
½ cup panko crumbs (optional)
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. garlic flakes
1 tsp. spicy seasoning or mixture of black pepper, paprika and cumin
2 eggs, beaten, mixed with 3 Tbsp. water
Oil for deep frying
Lemon halves
Rinse the fish well and place them in a bowl. Sprinkle them with lemon juice. Let them sit for 10 minutes and then rinse and dry them.
In a separate bowl, put flour and spices and mix well. In a third bowl, beat eggs and add the 2-3 tablespoons of water.
Heat the oil for frying. Oil must be at least 4 cm deep. Dip the fish in the flour and the egg and then drop them into the oil to fry. Remove the fish and place on a paper towel. Serve hot with lemon.
Although most of us consumed a tremendous amount of sweets over the holidays, Shabbat is still Shabbat and so we must have at least a simple cake. This is my go-to recipe when I don’t have much time but still want to serve my family something sweet on Shabbat.
200 gr. softened butter (or margarine if making parve)
1½ cups sugar or demerara sugar
2 packets vanilla sugar
1 tsp. rum
3 eggs
3 cups self-rising flour (or 2 cups sifted flour + 1½ cups whole wheat sifted flour + 2½ tsp. baking powder)
1 container yogurt (or parve cream)
½ cup milk (or water or juice)
For decoration:
½ cup nuts or sesame seeds, or 1 Tbsp. silan
Place butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer and blend until fluffy. Add the vanilla sugar, rum and eggs and mix until smooth.
Lower the speed and gradually add flour, baking powder, yogurt and milk. Pour batter into pan and flatten.
Sprinkle nuts or sesame seeds on top and drizzle with silan. Bake in an oven that was preheated to 180º for 45-50 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.
Translated by Hannah Hochner.