When people think of the nine days they tend to panic. After all it’s hard to be creative and come up with meal ideas when chicken and meat are off the menu. I like to look at the nine days as an excuse to bring exotic flavors in my kitchen and experiment a little bit. There are so many wonderful cuisines that lend themselves especially well to vegetarian and dairy options.
I happen to love Latin inspired food and flavors, and of course tacos. It’s a great go to meal when you have kids and any ground meat can work. But Tacos are great without the meat as well. I recently started making tacos with black beans and corn, along with ½ an envelope of taco seasoning and a can of tomato sauce and they are delish. Garnished with some creamy avocado and chives or green onions this a healthy and tasty dinner. Serve it with Gazpacho for an authentic mexican feast.
Corn and Black Bean Tacos
- 1 bag frozen corn
- 1 can black beans
- ½ an envelope taco seasoning (less if you’re sensitive to spice)
- 1 small can tomato sauce (12 ounces)
- 4-6 taco shells
- sliced avocado or guacamole, hot sauce, diced tomatoes, chives, and green onions for garnish.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse beans and put all ingredients into saute pan/skillet, heat through. Toast corn tacos for 2-3 minutes until crisped. Fill tacos with bean and corn mixture, top avocado, chives, tomatoes, green onions or any topping of your choice.
Another easy Mexican inspired recipe is my Rice and Bean Bake. A one pot meal that’s delicious and so easy to make. Everything get’s thrown together, put in the oven, and baked until the cheese on top is bubbling. Serve with a fresh corn, tomato and basil salad.
Rice and Bean Bake
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 1 can kidney beans
- 1 jar salsa
- shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 can roasted chili peppers (optional)
Rinse Kidney beans then combine with rice and salsa, spoon into a greased casserole and sprinkle with shredded cheddar and jalapenos if you like spice. Bake for ½ hour till cheese is bubbly, place under broiler for 5 minutes if you like the top browned.
Corn, Tomato and Basil Salad
- 1 can corn kernels or 3 ears fresh corn shucked of kernels.
- 2 roma tomatoes diced
- 10-15 basil leaves, chiffonade
- juice of one lemon
- drizzle of olive oil
- salt and pepper
If using fresh corn microwave for about 5 minutes with 1-2 Tbsp of water to soften the corn. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Serve immediately or keep chilled covered until ready to serve.
Moving beyond the Americas, lets travel to the flavors of Thailand, where coconut and curry feature prominently. Mild flavored flounder soaked in a coconut milk infused with curry and then dredged in panko breadcrumbs accompanied by a sweet and sour rice is a delicious meal that even your kids will like. You can opt to leave out the curry for less heat.
- 4 fresh Flounder Fillets
- 1 can reduced fat coconut milk
- 1 tsp curry powder
- panko bread crumbs
- neutral oil such as canola for frying or cooking spray.
If oven frying preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine coconut milk and curry. immerse fish in milk mixture then dredge in panko then back in coconut milk and dredge again in panko crumbs, repeat with all remaining fillets.
If pan frying let oil get really hot and cook 2-3 minutes on each side till golden brown and cooked through. For the oven fry method. Place fish on a tin foiled cookie sheet and spray both sides liberally with cooking spray. Bake for around 20 minutes until golden turning over halfway through.
See recipe below for Sweet and Sour Pineapple Rice to accompany the Coconut Flounder.
Finally we finish in Italy with a whole wheat pasta tossed in a fresh parsley pesto served with a romaine lettuce salad tossed with a simple vinaigrette. The parsley pesto has a gorgeous bright green hue and a lighter, fresher flavor than a traditional basil pesto. If you want it cheese free you sub 1-2 anchovy fillets for the parmesan cheese.
Whole Wheat Pasta with Parsley Pesto
- 1 box wheat pasta of your choice
- 1 bunch parsley stems chopped off
- 1 bunch chives
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- juice of one lemon
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- 1-2 tsp sea salt
Cook pasta in salted water according to directions. Combine fresh herbs, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and parmesan cheese in a blender and pulse until smooth. Toss with pasta and a little pasta water to help it really coat every strand.
These recipes are easy, healthy and delicious and you’ll find yourself using them even when it’s not the nine days!
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse beans and put all ingredients into saute pan/skillet, heat through. Toast corn tacos for 2-3 minutes till crisped. Fill tacos with bean and corn mixture, top avocado, chives, tomatoes, green onions or any topping of your choice.
1-2 cups cooked rice (preferably jasmine or basmati brown)
1 small can crushed pineapple
¼ cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 cube frozen chopped garlic or 2 tsp fresh chopped garlic
1 tsp corn starch dissolved in 1 Tbsp cold water to form a slurry.
1 tsp canola oil
Strain the pineapple from the juice set aside.
Heat the canola oil in a skillet on medium heat. Saute garlic until fragrant and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the strained pineapple juice, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar and sesame oil and bring to a gentle boil to reduce slightly.
Add the corn starch slurry and stir until mixture thickens. Add in crushed pineapple and pour over rice, tossing to combine thoroughly.
I love to travel. It’s probably one of my favorite things to do in my spare time, or whenever I can carve out time to take a trip; but going on vacation for me has become more about the destination, what I can see and do and less about the food. Don’t get me wrong as an avowed foodie I absolutely love to eat, but as a kosher keeping orthodox Jew many of the places I’ve traveled too severely limit my options on what I can and will eat.
That’s why Israel is one of my favorite foodie destinations. Everything from the street food, to the most high class restaurant can be found with a teuda (kosher certification). This makes traveling to Israel a kosher foodie’s dream come true, but with so many kosher options how do you separate the wheat from the chaff?
On my most recent trip to Israel ( I just got back to the states a little over a week ago) I was lucky enough to sample a whole new array of delicious food. Which is why I jumped at the chance when Shannon asked me to share with all of you my top 5 Israel foodie destinations from my most recent trip.
On your next trip to Israel I hope you’ll give these places a try; also do your own exploring, eat and taste your way through the country. In my opinion there’s no better way to see the land!
Jem’s, Petach Tikvah, http://www.jems.co.il/
Jem’s is a really unique place that you would never find in the American kosher scene – a beer factory that is also a kosher pub! They serve all sorts of traditional, greasy bar food that pairs great with their microbrews. Things you must try: beer battered onion rings, sausages, and meatball hero. And don’t forget to wash it all down with one of their refreshing microbrews. For more info check out a full review from YeahThatsKosher.
Hambuerguesa, Ibn Gvirol 22,Tel Aviv
Hambuerguesa is a great spot featuring a hamburgers and fries-only menu. They have an array of unique burger combinations including the Spanish burger which is topped with guacamole, salsa, red onions and lettuce; and the Hawaiian burger topped with grilled pineapple. If you love hamburgers, leave Burgers Bar behind and give this place a try!
Odelia, 89 Ben Yehuda Street, Tel Aviv
If you are looking for authentic Sephardi-Israeli food try out Odelia, which is a mix of Moroccan, Libyan and Tunisian cuisine. It’s a very family friendly place where they even have special kids plates and utensils – pretty cool. The couscous with marak-soup and vegetables is delicious as is the potato mafrom – potatoes stuffed with ground meat and spinach and cooked till tender in an allspice, and coriander tomato sauce.
Tokopaya, Nes Ziyyona, http://tokopaya.rest.co.il/he/home/
In Israel there’s a difference between a regular restaurant with a cook and what they call a “chef restaurant” – literally that a trained chef does the cooking. Our cousins took us to Tokopaya, the place where they go for special occasions. It’s an elegant meat restaurant with beautiful (and delicious) presentation of food. The standouts for me included the focaccia bread that gets placed on each table served with roasted garlic cloves and a lemon garlic aioli; the pesto salmon; and the chocolate soufflé and créme bruleé dessert combo. If you’re in the Rechovot neighborhood and looking for a “special” meal, then definitely try Tokopaya.
Grand Café, Baka Neighborhood, Jerusalem
Looking for an excellent dairy restaurant? Then you must try Grand Café in Jerusalem. They have a full menu of dairy delights that good for breakfast, lunch or dinner! If the weather permits, sit outside with a coffee and one of their delectable pastries and enjoy the people watching. Some standouts: the Fried Pesto goat cheese; raw shaved beet salad with lemon vinaigrette; and the homemade pasta with rose cream sauce.