Now that we’re in the long stretch of winter, without any exciting Yamim Tovim to break up the monotony of daily life, we can take some time to explore new and tasty dishes for ‘just’ Shabbat. I enjoy creating my own “dips”, cold pureed vegetarian ideas that spread well on challah. After my homemade challahs have been sliced and passed around, I bring out several dishes of these dips, and the family and guests really enjoy it together with their challah, even before we’ve started to eat any fish or other salads. Here are two of many ideas on this theme for you to try out…
Eggplant and Walnut Dip
Yields about 4 to 5 cups
- 2 eggplants
- 2 large onions
- 4 cloves garlic
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 to 1½ teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoons pepper
- 1 teaspoon za’atar, optional (if you don’t have this, it will still work without it)
- 15 walnut pieces
- ¼ cup unflavored, natural techina paste
- ¼ cup water
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Line a baking tray with parchment baking paper
- Wash off the eggplants and slice them each in half the long way
- Spray them with a bit of oil spray on the cut side
- Lay the eggplant halves down flat on their cut side and prick the outer, skin side up, with a fork two or three times
- Slide them into the oven and let them bake for 40 minutes until they are soft and cooked.
- Remove the eggplant from the oven and allow them to cool about a half an hour.
- While the eggplant is cooking, dice the onions and garlic and place them in a large frying pan. Add the olive oil and sautee them, until they are golden and very fragrant. Turn off the fire, add in the salt, pepper and optional za’atar. Stir well to incorporate.
- Scoop out the cooked flesh of the eggplants and discard the skins.
- In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add in the eggplant flesh, the sautéed vegetables, and the rest of the ingredients.
- Keep pulsing in the food processor until the mixture is pureed.
- Remove to a plastic container and refrigerate until use.
- This only lasts about 3-4 days in the fridge; but it’s so good that there’s no need to worry – it will disappear as soon as you serve it with your challah!
It also freezes well; if the amount seems too large for you, place half of it in small freezer containers. Then all you have to do is defrost and enjoy!
Cold Eggplant Salad
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1 large eggplant or 2 small ones, peeled and diced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1¼ teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- 3 Tablespoons vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- ¾ cup tomato sauce
- In a large, flat pan that has a lid, add in the onions and garlic, and the olive oil and start to saute until it starts to turn a clear, golden color, about 10 minutes
- Add the diced green pepper and cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
- Add in the diced eggplant and let it cook for another 10 minutes
- Add in all the seasonings and the rest of the ingredients. Turn the flame down to simmer, cover the pan and allow it to cook together for 45 minutes. The aroma this emits as it’s simmering together is incredible; your entire family will want to know “what’s that yummy smell?”
- Turn off the flame and allow it to cool for 10 minutes before transferring this salad to plastic container
- Refrigerate until use.
I enjoy this one just as it is, chunky and hearty looking. It goes great with the challah, along with some olive oil and also hummus to dip with it. It lasts at least a week, often longer, in the fridge and can be frozen as well if you want to make it in advance.
And here’s one more dip to complement the others…
- 3 cups fresh or frozen spinach
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ green pepper, chopped
- 1 small red pepper, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon pepper
- A small bunch of fresh parsley OR 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- A small amount of “kusbara”, which is Chinese parsley
- Saute the peppers and onions in the olive oil until light brown, about 10 minutes.
- Put all the ingredients into the food processor fitted with the “S” blade, and puree until smooth.
- Refrigerate before serving.
A great dairy idea with this dip is to substitute ½ cup of cream cheese and ½ cup of plain yogurt in place of the mayonnaise, for a different taste and texture. This dip also goes over well at parties with vegetable and cracker platters, or for a nice Seudat Shlishit idea.
Shabbat Low-Fat Chicken Salad
4 to 5 servings
I made up this recipe several months ago, in order to cut back on fat intake and as a pretty and refreshing salad idea for Shabbat day. The spinach leaves add a nice touch, as well as necessary nutrients from more green leafy veggies, and some calcium. It smells and presents wonderfully. This amount feeds 4-5 adults.
- 3 pieces of chicken cutlets
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 2 Tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1 small head romaine or iceberg lettuce, washed
- 2 cups (or a bit more) fresh spinach leaves, washed
- 10 cherry tomatoes
- 1 small red Spanish onion
- 2 cucumbers, optional
- 1 sweet, seedless orange, peeled and cut into bit size pieces
- Small amount of olive oil and apple cider vinegar OR Italian dressing
Note: You don’t need to pound out the cutlets. If a particular piece is very thick, just slit it open and you make it into two thinner slices.
- Spray your frying pan or non-stick griddle with the cooking spray.
- Heat it up on a medium flame.
- Place the chicken pieces on top of the hot pan and allow them to sear on both sides, until the insides are no longer pink. For a medium thickness, this should take about 5-7 minutes per side.
It’s best not to overcook the pieces, as this tends to make them tougher and drier. It really does take only a few minutes to sear the pieces so that they are cooked through but still juicy.
- Remove the chicken from the pan immediately. Allow it to cool for a few minutes on a plate.
- Slice them into strips and place them in a plastic container.
- Drizzle the slices with about 2 Tablespoons of soy sauce.
- Cover the plastic Tupperware container and store in the fridge until Shabbat day.
- Friday night before you go to sleep, (if you remember!), you may want to shake the container a bit to move around the pieces in the sauce.
Shabbat day, set up your salad like this:
- A medium head of lettuce, shredded by hand, placed in the bowl first.
- 2 cups of fresh spinach leaves, that you washed well before Shabbat (to remove the grit and sand on them), placed on top of the lettuce
- A handful of cherry tomatoes, placed all around the bowl
- The orange pieces
- One small red onion, sliced on top of all
- Optional: one or two cucumbers, unpeeled, washed well, and cubed.
TIP: KEEPING YOUR LETTUCE CRISP – After you have washed and spun your lettuce or spinach leaves dry, what’s often upsetting is that they seem to wilt and spoil almost overnight in the fridge. To prevent this, you must store them properly. Spread out a large kitchen towel. Place a layer of lettuce/spinach leaves on it. Cover them with a few paper towels, then layer more leaves. Keep doing this until all the leaves are in there. Then roll up the leaf filled towel as if it’s a jelly roll, thereby encasing all the leaves within, together with the paper towels. Place this ‘jelly roll’ into a large plastic bag. Remove all the air and seal it tightly. I do this with a clothespin as I don’t have twist ties. Then place it on the bottom shelf of the fridge, away from the motor. It will last for close to five or six days this way.
- Place the chicken slices on top of the salad
- Add 3 T. of Italian dressing, or just drizzle some olive oil and a bit of apple cider vinegar all over
- Toss gently, and serve.
I almost never have leftovers of this salad. And if by chance I do, it’s gone by the next night…
Enjoy and have a good Shabbat! Kol tuv until next time, Tamar Ansh
Tamar Ansh is an author, freelance recipe developer, and food columnist. Her articles have appeared in Jewish publications worldwide. She has published 4 books so far which include: Splitting the Sea (Targum Press), inspirational stories on finding one’s soul-mate; Let’s Say Amen!, an illustrated children’s book about the holiness of Amen (Feldheim Publishers); her first cookbook, A Taste of Tradition (Feldheim Publishers) which is both gluten free and kosher for Passover. Her most recent book is called A Taste of Challah (Feldheim Publishers, 2007). It is a photographic guide to baking and shaping beautiful challahs, and includes many other healthy and interesting bread types as well. Visit www.TasteofChallah.com to see all her books online, as well as other, not yet published, challah and bread recipes. She occasionally accepts speaking engagements overseas and lives in Jerusalem with her family.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.