Slice of Life, Shavuot

June 1, 2011
Please note: fresh fruit and vegetables need to be inspected for insect infestation. Please consult our guide

Please note: Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer. The Orthodox Union makes no endorsements or representations regarding kashrut certification of various products/vendors referred to in her articles, blog, or web site.

What better time than Shavout than to write a dairy column. And after watching Jamie Lee Curtis touting the benefits and joy of regularity that comes with of eating of certain yogurt products, I was filled with a fair amount of trepidation (and a few really good one liners) as I approached this column. I figured I’d take a pass on the gas jokes and just get down to the basics of writing about the benefits and good stuff that comes from consuming of good old fashioned yogurt.

So what exactly is yogurt? While some of the less informed may immediately think of the creamy sweet stuff in little plastic tubs with fruit on the bottom or the frozen custard like stuff with flavors like caramel crème and chocolate mousse plain yogurt is actually milk that has had bacteria added to it. This good for you bacteria causes the milk to ferment and thicken. This fermented thick mixture is strained and the liquid is drained off. The end result is a tangy creamy mixture that has the consistency of sour cream. Besides being delicious yogurt is also full of calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. Regular yogurt is strained once or twice, the new kid on the block, Greek yogurt is, however, strained three times (or more) making for a much thicker and denser consistency.

Which yogurt is better for you to utilize when climbing the food pyramid, you ask? On one hand Greek yogurt has almost double the protein and fewer carbohydrates than regular yogurt. However, regular yogurt has three times the calcium as the Greek variety so choose which ever one works best for you. Finally, it’s really a tossup when it comes to calories (watch what you add to it) and if price is your only concern the Greek yogurt is typically far more expensive.

On the technical side, I prefer to use Greek yogurt to replace cream cheese, sour cream, or ricotta cheese in baking or cooking. The regular yogurt tends to curdle more than the Greek variety when you cook with it. I gravitate towards regular yogurt when I’m making dips, salad dressing, smoothies, desserts and sauces. When you add fresh fruit either variety works great.

So if there was a smack down cooking cage match between regular yogurt and Greek yogurt which should you bet on and buy? The answer is that it’s a draw you win with both and whoever gets to eat what you make takes home the prize.

Yogurt Tips:

  1. Use yogurt as a substitute for mayonnaise or sour cream to reduce calories and fat.
  2. Add yogurt to your marinades. Its high acid content is a great tenderizer.
  3. Add yogurt near the end of the cooking process to prevent curdling.
  4. Use yogurt as a substitute for buttermilk, sour cream, or butter to reduce calories and fat in baking.
  5. Don’t use aluminum pans when cooking with yogurt, the acid could cause a negative reaction.

Yogurt Mashed Cauliflower (Dairy)

4 servings


  • 2 heads of cau­li­flower (flo­rets only)
  • 6 oz. con­tainer of Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons but­ter
  • 3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan
  • ½ to 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped onion
  • 2 to 3 chopped green onions for gar­nish
  • Salt and pep­per to taste


  1. In a medium pot, bring the water to boil. Add the cau­li­flower flo­rets to the boil­ing water and let then cook it for about 8 min­utes or until they are soft.
  2. Remove the florets from the heat and drain then in a colander.
  3. In a food proces­sor, com­bine the cau­li­flower with the yogurt, but­ter, gar­lic and minced onion and process with pulses until you have a con­sis­tency you like.
  4. Add the salt and pep­per to taste.
  5. Immediately spoon the mixture into a serving bowl and mix in the parmesan. Top with green onions and serve immediately.

This recipe can be doubled or tripled

Greek Yogurt Berry Pie (Dairy)

8 servings

You can use a ready made pie crust if you like



  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 Tablespoons water

Yogurt Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 6 oz. Mascarpone cheese
  • 8 oz. Greek yogurt
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 to 3 cups mixed berries
  • 3 Tablespoons raspberry jam


  1. In a mixing bowl combine the flour and brown sugar. Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives cut the butter in the flour mixture. Add the water to the mixture. Mix with a fork until the dough is just moistened.
  2. Shape crust dough into a ball with your hands, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
  3. Roll out the dough into a 12 inch circle and then fold it in half then in half again. Place it in a tart pan with a removable bottom and unfold.
  4. Press the dough evenly onto the bottom and sides of a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool the crust completely on a wire rack.
  5. In the bowl of a food processor combine all the ingredients and process until smooth. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  6. When ready to assemble the pie spread the cream cheese filling evenly over the tart shell. Sprinkle the berries over the top of the filling. In a glass bowl heat the jam slightly and then drizzle the warm jam over the top of the berries.

Serve immediately.

Modified from

Mock Seafood Lasagna


  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 12 to 15 lasagna noodles, cooked
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 6 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3 cups Stonyfield Farm Lowfat (1%) Organic Milk
  • 2 cups Oikos Plain Greek Yogurt (or substitute with yogurt cheese)
  • 1½ cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1½ cups shredded gruyere
  • 1 lb. mock crab meat, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 lb. canned salmon, drained and flaked
  • 1 lb. smoked white fish, flaked


  1. Whisk flour in heavy medium saucepan to remove any lumps. Gradually add 1 cup milk, whisking until smooth. Add remaining 2 cups milk and nutmeg; whisk over medium heat until mixture thickens and boils, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  2. Whisk in Parmesan, egg and butter. Season with salt and pepper. Can be made 1 day ahead, just cover and refrigerate.
  3. Reheat over low heat until heated through before using; do not boil.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  5. In a mixing bowl combine mock crab, salmon, and whitefish together
  6. In a separate bowl fold together 1¼ cups gruyere, 1¼ cups mozzarella and yogurt.
  7. In 8½x11-inch baking dish, start by coating the bottom of the dish with a thin layer of white sauce; next add a layer of lasagna noodles placing tightly together, cut to fit if necessary.
  8. Spread 1/3 of yogurt and cheese mixture, and sprinkle with 1/3 seafood. Repeat layers 2 times ending with lasagna noodles.
  9. Finish the top with white sauce and sprinkled with remaining cheese.
  10. Cook for 35 minutes on top of sheet pan in case it bubbles over

Modified from

Zucchini Griddle Cakes with Yogurt Sauce (dairy)

Yields 12 griddle cakes


  • 3 to 4 medium zucchini, shredded
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh dill or 2 Tablespoons dried
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 to 6 Tablespoons oil (or more as needed)

Yogurt sauce:

  • 2/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons minced cloves garlic
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped cucumbers
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  1. Place the shredded zucchini in a colander over a bowl or in the sink and mix it with ½ teaspoon salt. Drain for five to 10 minutes and then place the zucchini in a towel and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Try squeezing it a second time just to make sure you got all the liquid out.
  2. Put the zucchini in a bowl and add the eggs. Mix to combine. Add the flour, salt, olive oil, mozzarella, green onions dill and pepper. Mix and add the baking powder. Mix to combine.
  3. Place the griddle on the heat and brush 1 to 2 Tablespoons of oil on the surface. Spoon heaping Tablespoons of the batter several inches apart so they have room to spread (don’t make them too big). They may need to be flattened slightly.
  4. Cook until they are golden on one side (3 to 4 minutes) and then flip them and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes on the other side. (The griddle cakes should be crispy.)

You can make them up ahead of time and keep them warm in the oven. Serve hot.

For yogurt sauce:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, cucumber and salt.
  2. Mix well, and serve on the side or on pancakes.

Submitted by Brian Zimmerman NY, NY

Apple and Carrot Yogurt Salad

6 servings


  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 carrots, peeled and shredded (3½ cups)
  • 2 apples, cored and cut into ¼-inch sticks (3½ cups)
  • 1 cup shredded jicama
  • 1 head red leaf lettuce, torn into bite size pieces
  • 1 cup chopped pecans


  1. In a salad bowl combine the yogurt, vinegar, pepper, salt and parsley. Add the carrots, apples, jicama and mix well.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours to soften the vegetables slightly.
  3. Place the lettuce on a platter and then spoon the apple mixture over the top.
  4. Sprinkle the pecans on the top and serve.

Avocado and Mango with Spicy Tahini Yogurt Dressing

6 servings


  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch of ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 3 ripe avocados, peeled and sliced
  • 3 mangos, peeled and sliced
  • ½ cup sliced almonds, toasted


  1. To make the dressing combine the yogurt and tahini in a bowl and whisk them together until smooth.
  2. Add the cumin, coriander, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper and cayenne and whisk to combine.
  3. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  4. Divide the avocado and mango slices between 6 plates.
  5. Spoon the dressing over and sprinkle with almonds.

Modified from Taste of Israel by Avi Ganor and Ron Maiberg

Fresh Herb Tuna Pasta with Yogurt Dill Sauce

4 to 6 servings


  • 1 cup orzo pasta
  • 3 scallions (green onions), sliced thin tops included
  • 1 green bell pepper, minced fine
  • 1 red bell pepper, minced fine
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • ½ cup black or kalamata olives, finely diced
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoon fresh dill, finely minced
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh dill, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons celery seeds
  • 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 6 oz. tuna in water, drained
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, and rinse under cold water to quick chill, drain well and pour into large mixing bowl.
  2. Stir in green onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, olives, egg, fresh herbs, mustard, and parsley; mixing well.
  3. Add the lemon juice, yogurt, tuna and cheese, mix well; add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Garnish with a sliced bell pepper slice, sliced tomato or additional cheese if desired.

Submitted by Sharon Barlone West Bloomfield MI

Rigatoni with Yogurt Lime Sauce

4 servings


  • 4 cups cooked rigatoni pasta
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced small


  • 2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • Zest of lime
  • Lime juice to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 green onions, sliced thin
  • Parmesan cheese to taste


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, in a bowl combine the yogurt, garlic, and lime zest.
  3. Mix to combine and add the lime juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir well and set aside.
  4. Just before draining pasta add the diced pepper and peas to the pot and let cook for 1 minute. Save 1 cup of the salted pasta water and then drain the rest.
  5. Return pasta and peas to pot. Stir in yogurt sauce. Add the saved pasta water slowly mixing until you get the desired consistency for the sauce.
  6. Serve immediately, topped with green onions and Parmesan.

Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer who was born and raised in the Chicago area. She graduated from Indiana University and the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris. She lectures on various food-related topics across the U.S. and Canada and writes weekly columns for the Chicago Jewish News, and the OU Shabbat Shalom Website. She is the author of the Perfectly Pareve Cookbook (Feldheim) and is a contributing writer for the Chicken Soup for the Soul Book Group, Chicago Sun Times, Detroit Free Press and Woman’s World Magazine. You can visit Eileen’s blog by clicking: Cuisine by Eileen

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