Shabbat in the Shade
Cold lunches for dog days
Cold lunches for dog days
After a busy work week, most of us welcome Shabbat with a festive evening meal. But Saturday lunch tends to be more casual, especially during the summer when we want to take advantage of the good weather and get out of the kitchen quickly.
Shabbat lunch should be appropriately celebratory, but it can also be easy and unfussy, maybe even with food we can bring outdoors to a terrace, deck, or picnic site. This is the time for make-ahead dishes served cold or at room temperature.
During the summer, when fresh produce is abundant, my Shabbat lunches are frequently salads with lots of fresh greens plus summer favorites that taste better in-season, like zucchini and big, fat, sun-kissed, local tomatoes. Sometimes I add cheese, sometimes bits of leftover meat or fish from the previous night’s dinner. Most of the time they’re vegetarian though, with fillers such as cooked grains – maybe quinoa, rice, or farro – or more vegetables, beans, or chick peas or some other bread or starchy item. One of my favorite summer treats is Panzanella Salad with crunchy, homemade croutons. I prepare everything the day before. All I have to do is mix the dressing and solid ingredients together and lunch is ready.
Helen Goldrein, whose Family Friends Food is the UK’s #1 kosher food blog, thinks along the same lines as I do, taking advantage of the once-a-year bounty of sweet, fragrant summer tomatoes from her garden in Cambridge. Although she and her family eat most of the summer tomatoes out of hand or sliced and tucked into sandwiches, she also cuts them up into salad for Shabbat lunch. Her version includes olives plus fresh herbs and a simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. That’s it! So simple, so fresh! She says, “I serve it alongside or on top of cold smoked fish and it’s the perfect lunch for Shabbat.”
Recently I asked my kosher blogger friend Gloria Kobrin what she does for summer Shabbat lunches. Her answer – “pasta salad!” which she learned long ago was a big winner in her family. She says that when her kids were growing up, their house was a hub of activity. On any given Saturday, there could be “an army of boys and girls” hanging out. She made “a ton of pasta” in advance as well as roasted peppers and pesto sauce, her son’s favorite. She mixed it all up and the only thing she had to do the next day was take the huge bowl out of the fridge. “Whether they ate in our dining room, or packed up containers to take to the park, this pasta worked for everyone!” According to Gloria, it still does!
It’s easy, healthy stuff too, for Liz Rueven, whose blog, kosherlikeme focuses on fresh, seasonal, locally sourced food. She invented one of her favorite summer Shabbat lunch dishes by accident. She roasted some sweet potatoes, cloaked them with glaze and then forgot about them in the refrigerator. When she opened the fridge again a couple of days later, she saw them and they were still fine, so she placed them on top of fresh, chopped kale. “Perfect!” she says. “Roasting the potatoes makes them sweet, but the miso deepens the savory nuttiness of the tahini.” What an unusual and interesting combination. For Liz, this potato dish is sometimes a stand-alone (served at room temperature) or placed on top of greens as a salad. Easy and Shabbat-worthy.
“Salmon!” Eitan Bernath told me when I asked him about Shabbat lunch. Eitan is only 15 years old, but already well on his way to a busy culinary career, which he started at age 12 when he appeared on The Food Network show “Chopped.” Now known as Teen Chef, he has a food blog, is a brand ambassador for an assortment of corporate sponsors, gives demos, and develops recipes. Plus, school of course. He certainly knows about food, and chose salmon as the perfect Shabbat lunch because “salmon is versatile. You can eat it hot or cold. You can serve it from a cooler at a picnic.” He especially loves the flavor and texture of blackened salmon and says that a tender, sweet and creamy fruit topping is the perfect foil for crusty, savory flavor of the fish. It is a pretty dish too.
Make it festive and easy this summer with these terrific Shabbat lunch choices:
Ronnie Fein is a cookbook author, food writer and cooking teacher in Stamford. She is the author of The Modern Kosher Kitchen and Hip Kosher. Visit her food blog, Kitchen Vignettes, at www.ronniefein.com, friend on Facebook at RonnieVailFein, Twitter at @RonnieVFein, Instagram at @RonnieVFein.