The Culinary Aspect of Shavuot

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27 May 2014

zitiFeatShavuot commemorates the receiving of the Torah at Mount Sinai—one of the biggest events in Jewish history.

At this point in our history we received all the customs and laws of the Torah for the first time—including kosher and food guidelines. The first festive meals then were dairy foods since, at first, we were unable to prepare meat dishes properly according to G-d’s instructions.

Let’s celebrate receiving the Torah this year with tantalizing AND good-for-you dairy dishes!


Greek Salad — Quinoa Style

4 cups water
2 cups quinoa
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup chia seeds
1 1/4 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup chopped Kalamata olives (pitted)
1/2 cup chopped red onion cooked or raw
4 oz feta cheese crumbles
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp vinegar (apple cider, sherry vinegar, etc)

1. Bring the water to a boil, then add the quinoa and salt. Bring the quinoa back to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer, and cover the quinoa with a lid. Cook the quinoa at a simmer for 15-20 minutes, until all of the water has been absorbed
2. In a skillet over medium heat, toast the chia seeds for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until they brown slightly. Be careful not to let them burn
3. Fluff the quinoa with a fork, and add the chia seeds, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, red onion, feta, olive oil, and vinegar. Serve and enjoy!


French Onion Soup

4 large onions, sliced
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons flour (all-purpose, whole wheat, spelt, rice work well)
8 cups water
3 tablespoons Osem Onion Soup Mix to taste
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
French bread, sliced and toasted

1. In a 4-quart stockpot, sauté onions in butter over medium heat for about 8 minutes, or until caramelized, stirring frequently.
2. Add wine and continue to sauté for 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Slowly stir in flour.
4. While stirring, add water, onion soup mix, salt and pepper; bring to a boil over high heat.
5. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
6. Ladle into bowls and place a piece of toasted French bread in each.

Note: The traditional topping for the French bread is Gruyere cheese, can be substituted with Swiss cheese. Top the toast with a slice or two of cheese and broil for 3 minutes, until cheese is browned and bubbly.


Creamy Ziti

1 (1-pound) box ziti or penne pasta (whole wheat, spelt, rice pasta also work well)
2 (26-ounce) jars prepared marinara sauce
1 (32-ounce) container ricotta cheese
2 (8-ounce) packages shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
Cooking Spray (olive oil, coconut oil, or avocado oil spray also work well)

1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13-inch pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Cook ziti on stove about 2 to 3 minutes less than package directions for al dente pasta. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, mix marinara sauce, ricotta and 1 cup of mozzarella.
4. Pour about 2 cups of the sauce mixture in prepared pan, spreading over bottom.
5. Combine ziti and remaining sauce mixture and stir until well combined, making sure there are no dry patches of pasta. Pour into pan and spread to edges.
6. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella over ziti to cover.
7. Spray one side of aluminum foil with baking spray and cover ziti (spray side down). The cooking spray will keep the mozzarella from sticking to the foil.
8. Bake, covered, at 375° for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Uncover and continue baking until cheese is golden brown and bubbly.
9. Serve hot, straight out of the pan.

Kale & Cheese Quiche

1 large bunch (about 1 1/2 pounds) kale leaves (discard stalks)
Kosher salt ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups milk or half and half
2 whole eggs
4 ounces grated cheese
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
9-inch deep-dish pie crust

1. Preheat oven to 350°F
2. To wash kale: put several drops dish soap in basin of water, insert kale, soak while agitating in water several minutes. Run both sides of each leaf under cold running water. Check each leaf against bright light source or window.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Chop and cook washed kale about 3 minutes until barely tender but still bright green
4. Rinse kale under cold water. Wrap kale in dish towel to squeeze out additional moisture. Chop into 1- to 1/2-inch pieces. Season to taste with salt and pepper
5. Combine half and half/milk with eggs in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and a pinch of black pepper. Add kale, cheese, and nutmeg and mix with hands to combine
6. Fill pie crust with kale mixture
7. Bake until center is just barely set about 35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool at least 15 minutes before serving
8. Quiche can be served warm, at room temperature, or straight out of the fridge

(recipe credit: 

Mmm…Coconut Cheesecake!

Did you know? Coconut is rich in dietary fiber, minerals and immune-boosting fats!

2 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup cream of coconut
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. coconut extract or vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 ready-to-use graham cracker crumb crust (6 oz.)
2 cups thawed whipped topping
1/2 cup flake coconut, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat cream cheese, cream of coconut, sugar and flavor extract with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Add eggs; mix just until blended
2. Pour into crust
3. Bake 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Top with whipped topping and toasted coconut just before serving. Store leftover cheesecake in refrigerator


The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.