Celebrate Shavuot with the best of the spring season

by | May 3, 2013 | Other News

NEW YORK (JTA)—With its tradition of dairy meals, Shavuot is one of my favorite holidays. Arriving later in the spring—an ideal time to find delicious fruits, herbs and vegetables—it’s perfect for using fresh and seasonal ingredients.

The four dishes I have selected for a Shavuot menu not only are perfect for dinner or lunch, they also reflect my philosophy on eating well: good planning, portion control and nutrition. Each dish can be prepared in advance, is not too difficult to make and doesn’t require many ingredients. And the ingredients are readily available.

I love to start holiday meals with soup. Green Pea and Zucchini Soup can be served at room temperature, which is nice if the weather is warm. It also freezes well.

For the main course, Ziti With Herbs and Mozarella has a lovely combination of herbs and cheese. And in late spring and summer, there is an abundance of fresh basil, parsley and arugula, all of which add wonderful flavor to the dish.

For my fish, the tasty Seared Tuna With Two Sauces also can be served at room temperature.

Finally, instead of the obligatory highly caloric cream cheese-based cheesecake, try Ricotta Flan with Raspberry Sauce. The ricotta and almonds make the cake much lighter (and healthier) than a traditional cheesecake, and it can be served warm, cold or at room temperature.

Feel free to add fresh raspberries. The recipes below are from Helen Nash’s New Kosher Cuisine (Overlook Press).

Makes 6 appetizer servings or 4 main-course servings
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves
1 cup tightly packed flat-leaf parsley
1 cup loosely packed arugula leaves
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ pound fresh mozzarella
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
Kosher salt
1 pound imported ziti
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper

Wrap the garlic cloves in foil and bake in a toaster oven at 400 degrees for
15 to 20 minutes, until soft. Cool.
Peel the cloves and place them in a food processor along with the basil, parsley,
and arugula. Adding the oil in a stream through the feed tube, pulse until semicoarse.
Transfer to a large bowl.
Cut the mozzarella into ½-inch cubes.
Add the cheese, along with the crushed pepper, to the herb mixture and combine.
Bring 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Add 2 tablespoons salt.
Add all the ziti at once and stir. Boil briskly, uncovered, for about 5 minutes,
until the pasta is al dente.
Drain in a colander, refresh with cold water, and drain well again.
Add the ziti to the herb and mozzarella mixture and combine.
Season to taste with the lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Makes 6 servings
Tuna is surely one of America’s favorite fish, and it lends itself
to many types of preparation, from sashimi to “tuna-fish” sandwiches.
This dish follows calls for the fish to be almost raw;
it can be accompanied with one of the Asian-inspired sauces,
Ginger or Piquant Asian.
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds sashimi-quality tuna
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Julienned daikon, sliced seeded cucumbers, and strong-tasting
salad leaves like arugula or watercress, for garnish
Ginger Sauce or Piquant Asia Sauce, to serve

Combine salt and pepper in a small bowl.
Pat the tuna dry with paper towels. Heat the oil in a large
nonstick skillet over medium heat. Sear the tuna on both
sides, then remove from the heat and rub both sides with
the salt-pepper mixture.
When cool, wrap the tuna tightly in wax paper, then in foil.
Refrigerate it for at least 4 hours or overnight.
This will make it firmer and thus easier to slice.
To serve: Cut the fish against the grain in thin slices and
serve accompanied by the suggested vegetables.
Serve either of the sauces separately.

Makes about 1 cup
¼ cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
2 teaspoons wasabi powder
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon powdered mustard
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
½ cup shelled soybeans (edamame),
defrosted (see note)
½ cup vegetable broth
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Place all the ingredients in a blender and
puree until smooth. Strain through a
medium-mesh strainer. Season to taste.
Note: Frozen edamame, shelled and unshelled, is
available in health-food stores and supermarkets.

Makes about ½ cup
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 tablespoons low-sodium
soy sauce
2½ tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons water
½ teaspoon sugar
1-inch piece of ginger,
peeled and grated
1 generous tablespoon olive oil
1 generous tablespoon
sesame oil
½ teaspoon black pepper

Combine the ingredients well
and season to taste.

by Helen Nash