Oh, how I love pasta. Almost all of my favorite comfort foods involve pasta: egg noodles with cottage cheese (a childhood favorite); any kind of gnocchi smothered in just about any kind of sauce; and my pregnancy comfort food, spaghetti with butter and Parmesan.
For Thanksgiving though I really wanted to create (and eat) an orzo side dish. Orzo somehow seems like a compromise of carb: it looks like rice, but it’s actually pasta. And to make it a little healthier than just some plain old pasta, I added some hearty wheatberries, an array of colorful vegetables and even some vitamin-rich pumpkin seeds into the mix.
The result is a scrumptious and satisfying side dish that can also serve as an entree for any vegetarian guests. Want to add some more protein into the mix? Add 1/2 cup cooked lentils or small white beans and you have a complete dish.
If you can’t find purple carrots at your local market, you can use a roasted beet instead to achieve the same color and texture. I also love this dish because you can prepare it a day ahead and either serve room temperature, or heat it back up to serve.
1 cup dry orzo pasta
1/2 cup wheatberries
1/2 medium butternut squash
2 purple carrots or 1 large beet
1/4 cup cooked peas (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup homemade or store-bought pepitas (you can also use slivered almonds or sunflower seeds)
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Peel butternut squash and carrots. Dice each into 1/2 inch cubes. Place butternut squash and carrots, separately, on a baking sheet, drizzle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, tossing once, until carmelized.
Note: if replacing the carrot with beet, wash the beet gently and place in tin foil. Roast in oven at 400 degrees for around 45 minutes or until soft. Allow to cool and remove skin. Once beet has cooled, dice into 1/2 inch cubes.
While vegetables are roasting, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook orzo around 11 minutes and drain. Drizzle with olive oil and place in a large bowl.
Cook wheatberries according to directions on package. (For 1/2 cup wheatberries, you will need around 1 cup of water. Bring water to a boil and then simmer covered for around 15 minutes).
In the large bowl with orzo, add cooked butternut squash, carrots (or beets), peas, wheatberries, cranberries, pepitas and another 1 Tbsp olive oil. Mix thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve room temperature or warm.
This Thanksgiving, I’m adding an array of chutneys to my holiday spread as a way to jazz up the traditional meal with simmered combinations of fruits or veggies. Chutneys are the perfect accompaniment to long roasted, rich turkey or braised meats because their vinegary bases help to balance the fat of heavier proteins and side dishes.
This selection of chutneys cover a range of flavors to please any palate. With that in mind, I simmered one sweet, one savory and one spicy condiment. They make use of seasonal ingredients and readily available herbs and spices. Best of all, they come together in one pot and with little fuss. And each of these combinations will be tastier and more nuanced when prepared in advance.
Sweet Cranberry and Cherry Chutney
This chutney hints at Thanksgiving tradition with ruby red cranberries, nuts and dried fruit. It is believed that cranberries were served at the first Thanksgiving in 1621.
Serve this Cranberry and Cherry Chutney alongside roasted meat, turkey or chicken. Add a few tablespoons to mayonnaise and use as a spread on lightly toasted challah for turkey sandwiches with leftovers from your feast. Or place this chutney in a small serving dish alongside creamy, mild cheeses as a sweet element on a cheese plate.
Note: This chutney has a very strong vinegar odor when it’s simmering. The first time I made this, I was alarmed by the strength of the vinegary presence. After it’s cooked, cooled and refrigerated, the vinegar- sugar- honey combination settles into a perfectly balanced, slightly sweet condiment for your holiday meal.
2 cups dried tart cherries
½ cup sugar
3 Tbsp honey
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup fresh cranberries (rinsed)
1 Tbsp lemon zest
½ cup finely chopped celery
1 cup raisins or currants
1 cup toasted chopped walnuts
6 Tbsp water (or a little more if the pan appears too dry)
Combine all ingredients in a 2 quart. saucepan over medium heat. Cook 20-25 minutes, stirring well.
Cranberries should burst open. The texture should be slightly sticky and chunky, with little liquid remaining after the simmer. Chutney will continue to thicken as it cools.
Cover and refrigerate for up to one week. Serve at room temperature.
Savory Cauliflower and Lentil Chutney
This vegetable and legume based chutney doesn’t include any added sweetness, making it a welcome savory addition to a holiday meal that tends to include lots of sweet flavors. It’s warm spices and toasted undertones provide unexpected flavors next to traditional dishes like sweet or mashed potatoes. This dish could easily be the star dish for vegetarians at your table.
Serve alongside turkey leftovers or as a condiment with pan-seared fish. If using this as a main dish for vegetarians at your Thanksgiving table, be sure to make stuffing without chicken or turkey broth so that they may enjoy stuffing with this savory chutney.
¼ cup good olive oil
1 large red onion, finely diced
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 tsp ras- el- hanout*
½ tsp mustard powder
1 cup dry red lentils
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups cauliflower florets, small pieces
1 ½ cups canned diced tomatoes
½ cup water
salt and pepper to taste
½ tsp paprika
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves- minced
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
*Middle Eastern spice mix found at well stocked markets like Whole Foods or at online on Amazon
Heat oil and add onion, shallot and ginger until softened, about 4-5 minutes.
Add ras-el-hanout and mustard powder and stir, cooking one minute.
Rinse and examine lentils for particles of debris. Remove if found. Add lentils and wine to onion and spice mixture. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Cover pot and cook 10 minutes.
Add cauliflower, tomatoes, water, salt and pepper and paprika.
Cover and cook over medium heat, covered, for 20-25 minutes until lentils and cauliflower are tender but not mushy. Stir occasionally. Add ¼- ½ cup more water if chutney appears dry.
Cool mixture and stir in lime juice and cilantro. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
May be refrigerated for up to one week in airtight container. Serve at room temperature.
¼ cup olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp coriander
⅛ tsp each, salt and pepper
½-1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and veins removed and finely chopped (do not touch eyes or mouth when handling this pepper)
½ tsp cinnamon
⅛ tsp cayenne
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsplight brown sugar
4 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
2 Tb. apple cider vinegar
2 Tb. dark raisins
1 Tb. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Tb. basil leaves, chopped
1 lime- juiced
Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.
Add the garlic, ginger, shallots, onion and cook until softened.
Add turmeric, cumin, coriander, jalapeno, salt and pepper, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Cook for 5 minutes.
Add the honey, brown sugar and raisins and cook for 2-3 minutes until caramelized.
Stir in fresh and canned tomatoes and vinegar. Simmer for 40-45 minutes in uncovered pot. Add a bit of water if mixture appears too dry. Texture should be jammy.
Remove from heat and stir in cilantro, basil and lime juice. Taste to season with additional cayenne, salt or pepper.
Cool and place in sealed glass container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Serve at room temperature.
I suggest serving this chutney alongside turkey or roasted chicken. It’s super as a spread on a brisket sandwich or serve alongside guacamole with toasted pita chips. Consider using this spicy tomato chutney swirled into a half cup of extra virgin olive oil as a sauce over your favorite pasta.
Thanksgiving is one of my family’s favorite holidays. Besides Passover, it is one of the only times we all come together during the year and so my mother and I get pretty excited about planning; we spend months working on the perfect place cards, décor, side dishes and desserts. We went all out for Thanksgivukkah last year creating this recipe for sweet potato latkes with toasted marshmallows.
This year we are very much in the midst of menu planning, and can’t wait to make this new dish for challah stuffing stuffed acorn squash, made with classic Thanksgiving flavors like squash, dried cranberries, thyme and even pecans.
This dish has a great “wow factor” due to its eye-catching presentation but is quite simple to make. You can even make it ahead of time to save time the day of Thanksgiving. This dish also serves as a great vegetarian entree for your guests.
4 acorn squashes
½ leftover challah loaf (about 2 cups cubed)
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces white mushrooms, chopped
2 tsp dried thyme
2 Tbsp soy sauce
½ cup toasted pecans, chopped
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup to 3/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth, as needed
Salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and set aside.
Cut challah into ½ inch cubes and place on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and use your hands to toss the challah pieces and distribute the oil evenly. Toast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, tossing once halfway through. Set the toasted challah cubes aside.
Cut 3/4 inch off the top of each acorn squash and carefully scoop out the seeds and strings of each squash. Cut a sliver off the bottom of each squash and place them on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, generously season with salt and pepper, and replace the top of each squash, leaving room for steam to escape. Bake for 40 minutes.
Heat olive oil in a pan over medium-heat heat and sauté the diced onion until translucent. Add the mushrooms and thyme, stirring until the mushrooms brown. Add garlic.
Once no liquid is left in the pan, deglaze the pan with soy sauce. Add cranberries, pecans, challah and vegetable broth, stirring until the vegetable broth is absorbed and the mixture starts to come together. You can add additional broth if the mixture is too dry to come together. Add salt and pepper as needed.
Stuff the squash with the challah mixture until slightly mounded. Place the top of each squash next to its body. Bake the squash and stuffing for 25-30 minutes, until the stuffing is lightly browned and the flesh of the squash can be pierced easily with a fork. Place the top of each squash on top of the stuffing to serve.
I love noodle kugel, especially my husband’s salt and pepper noodle kugel, which is always a hit at any Shabbat or holiday meal we serve it. But I really wanted to create a sweetened version of noodle kugel for Rosh Hashanah this year using some fresh, local apples.
I tried this recipe several ways until I found the right balance of apples, sugar, eggs and crumb topping. The result is a kugel that is sweet, but not too sweet, moist but still has a rich, crunchy crumb topping.
It brings together the goodness of a fall apple crumble, with the tradition of a noodle kugel. Oh yeah, and I decided it should get baked in a springform pan so that it looks like a “cake” which is just so much fun. Don’t worry – you can still serve it as a side dish.
If you decide to bake yours in a springform pan, make sure the bottom is locked in place tightly before pouring the unbaked kugel mixture into the pan. If it isn’t, you could end up with a liquidy mess all over your kitchen. I mean, I am not saying that happened to me (it did), but just making a recommendation.
For the kugel:
1 12 ounce package wide egg noodles
8 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp brown sugar
3 medium apples, peeled and sliced thin
For the topping:
3/4 cup flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup margarine or butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch springform pan or pyrex dish for baking. If using a springform pan, cover bottom in foil and place on a flat baking sheet to avoid spills.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook noodles around 8-10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, salt and brown sugar. Add sliced apples and mix gently until coated completely.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add the margarine or butter and using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut into the dry mixture until even, coarse crumbs form.
When noodles have been drained, add to egg mixture and mix gently until coated completely. Pour mixture into prepared baking pan. Sprinkle crumb mixture evenly on top of noodles.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until noodles have set and crumb topping starts to brown. Serve warm or room temperature.
I didn’t grow up eating kugel. Ok, maybe let me rephrase that.
My grandmother made noodle kugel, but it was almost always dried out and as a kid I was usually too scared to actually eat it. Thankfully I married into a family with an arsenal of great kugel recipes including my husband’s grandmother’s Salt and Pepper Noodle Kugel and his mother’s Cakey Crunch Sweet Potato Kugel. And now I really love kugel, and have been trying my hand at making kugel more and more.
For the last few weeks, green has been everywhere, especially in the abundance of springtime vegetables at the farmer’s markets and grocery store. And as I have been watching the spring veggies arrive, I was trying to imagine how to incorporate the flavors of Spring into kugel.
Zucchini kugel is delicious by itself, but add some fresh, bright herbs like basil and mint, and you have an updated dish perfect for Spring. If basil and mint doesn’t quite appeal to your taste buds, you could also use fresh parsley for a more subtle flavor.
Note: after sauteing the zucchini, make sure to drain as much liquid out as possible. If there is too much liquid in the zucchini, the kugel will turn out a mushy mess.
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5 medium zucchini
salt and pepper
2 tsp fresh lemon zest
1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup matzo meal
1/2 Tbsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
Using a spiralizer or vegetable peeler, make long noodles out of zucchini.
Heat 1-2 Tbsp olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Saute zucchini in batches for 3-4 minutes each until soft and slightly translucent. Add a pinch of salt and pepper with each batch.
Place the cooked zucchini in a colander and drain excess liquid. Make sure to squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a 9x13 baking dish, add another 2 Tbsp olive oil to the dish and place in the oven to heat up while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
In a large bowl whisk the eggs with mint, basil, salt, pepper and matzo meal. Add zucchini and stir gently until completely mixed.
After oil has heated in pan around 5-10 minutes, add zucchini mixture to pan. Using a spatula or the back of a spoon smooth out top.
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until edges are crispy and the kugel is set in the middle. You may need to drain off excess oil and liquid and place back into the oven for additional 5-10 minutes.
Once kugel has cooked through, remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting. Serve at room temperature or warm.
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When I first tasted the delicious, and later ubiquitous, butternut squash kugel, I thought I was eating something healthy. However, there is a reason it tasted like cake: It was cake.
My Shabbat host readily admitted that that kugel was full of flour, sugar and oil. That was many years ago. Since then, some version of a squash kugel (whether made from sweet potatoes, butternut squash or pumpkin), has graced most Shabbat tables at which I have had the pleasure of eating, including my own. I never could bring myself to make the classic cake-like recipe. Instead, for years I used a Hungry Girl recipe that called for egg beaters and artificial sweetener. As I no longer eat animal products or artificial sweeteners, I had to come up with my own healthy alternative.
I don’t think you’ll find an easier recipe that can be made so quickly and for a crowd. Plus, you can practice your inner Martha Stewart and decorate individual ceramic crocks, as I’ve done here, or one large serving dish.
Cooking tip: if you want to play with the servings, figure that you will use 1 small sweet potato per person or 1 large sweet potato for every two people. In addition, you will want 1 Tablespoon of maple syrup per large sweet potato.
4 large sweet potatoes, cooked until completely soft
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup-1 cup dried cherries or cranberries
½ cup-1 cup pecans
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Peel the well-cooked sweet potatoes. If they were cooked earlier, re-heat them for 2 minutes in the microwave in a glass or ceramic dish.
Using a food processor, whip the sweet potatoes and the maple syrup until light and fluffy. You can also use an immersion blender for this step.
Place the mixture into individual ceramic crocks or 1 large serving dish and smooth out the
top. Decorate with dried cherries and pecans.
Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Serve warm.
I didn’t grow up eating kugel regularly. My only exposure to kugel was on the one or two times a year we would all gather around my grandmother’s dining room table for Jewish holidays. My grandmother would serve two kinds of kugel which she would describe as “one sweet, one savory.” I would more aptly describe them as “dry and drier.”
When I was in college and dating “a nice Jewish boy” his mother made an incredible dairy noodle kugel with crushed pineapple, butter and sour cream. Now THAT was kugel. I was in love. And when I met my husband and his family, I fell in love with his Baba Billie’s salt and pepper noodle kugel.
Like everything Baba Billie made, this kugel is not for the faint-hearted, or faint-stomached. This is not a light recipe, but it is good. You may look at the amount of oil and think, come on – really? Yes, really. I don’t make this every day, nor do I suggest making it every day. We make it a few times each year always to rave reviews. Everything in moderation, or so my father always says, and this kugel is no exception.
My husband likes to use regular wide noodles, but I opt for the super-duper extra wide. You can use either variety you like.
Like a little kick? Make sure to use hot paprika on top. If you prefer to play to it safe just use a sweet, smoky paprika instead.
1 12 ounce package of wide or extra wide egg noodles
2 Tbsp jarred garlic
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
Special equipment: Pyrex baking dish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. When oven is heated, add 3-4 heaping Tbsp of olive oil to baking dish and place pan in oven for the oil to heat. This step will make for a crispier kugel.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook noodles as directed on package, around 7-8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
While noodles are cooking, whisk together eggs, garlic, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Add cooked noodles to egg mixture and mix gently until completely coated. Remove baking dish with hot oil from the oven and add noodles to the dish. It will sizzle slightly - this is a good thing.
Sprinkle top with paprika. Bake for 40 minutes uncovered or until noodles are desired crispiness. Serve warm or room temperature.
Hello Nosher readers! I’m so honored to have a recipe on this lovely site. I’ve been a long-time reader of MyJewishLearning.com so am extra honored to be featured.
Now, about this recipe. Lately, I’ve been on a mad “one-pot” meal frenzy.
I’ve got several full time jobs, including one with health insurance benefits and one with hugs-and-kisses benefits, both of which take up a lot of time. When it comes to cooking for Shabbat (or any meal), I try to keep it simple. This little side dish would be perfect with some grilled lemon salmon or any baked fish, really. And, if bread crumbs are omitted or almond flour is substituted, it’s grain-free and gluten-free friendly, which also means Passover-friendly. I hope you enjoy!
1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
1 head of cauliflower, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs (or almond flour if gluten-free)
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine the tomatoes, cauliflower, garlic and olive oil in an 9x13-inch baking dish. Season with salt and pepper. Bake, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower are browning, about 25 - 30 minutes. After 25 - 30 minutes, you might notice that the casserole has become a bit watery.
Note: you might want to spoon out some of that moisture to help the cauliflower keep its crispness.
Combine the panko breadcumbs and the butter, then sprinkle over the tomatoes. Next, sprinkle the Parmesan over the casserole. Broil for 30 - 45 seconds, then sprinkle the basil over the top. Serve.
A lot of my friends have fond memories of their grandmother’s chicken soup or their mom’s amazing brisket. Sadly, I don’t have these sacred food memories. My Jewish grandmother (who I love dearly) is not such a great cook. Her kugel is always dried-out, her soup is too fatty and still needs salt, and she serves jarred gefilte fish at holidays, which more closely resembles lint from a dryer than something edible.
But one of the dishes she makes that I do enjoy is her marinated cucumber salad. It’s a dish that she learned to make from her grandmother (my great-great grandmother) who lived most of her life in Russia.
I updated her recipe just a bit, using seedless English cucumbers instead of regular cucumber, and adding a bit of spice with just a pinch of red pepper. I also love serving my salad in mason jars – definitely a modern twist.
This quick salad is a cinch to whip up, keeps for several days in the fridge and is a real crowd-pleaser. My young daughter devours it, and even my father-in-law approves – truly the ultimate compliment.
1 large seedless English cucumber
1 onion, thinly sliced
6 Tbsp white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp water
2-3 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
pinch crushed red pepper (optional)
Slice cucumber 1/4-1/2 inch thick.
In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, water, sugar, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper and dill.
Add thinly sliced cucumbers and onions to bowl and mix until liquid coats all the cucumbers and onions.
Place salad into container and allow to chill several hours or overnight.
In our home there is a clear division of labor when it comes to the kinds of meals we both cook. The husband is in charge of meat and fish. I am in charge of soups, sauces and salads. (And dessert too of course). .
Salads are really so much fun to throw together. I love experimenting with seasonal ingredients I find at my local farmer’s market and also using ingredients I have hanging around in my house. And above all about salads: I love that you can improvise.
The salad calls for arugula but all you have is spinach? Just substitute! Have some apples in the house that you want to use before they go bad? Chop them up and throw them in! This is actually how some of my best salad creations came about in the first place including one of my favorites, this Spinach, Blueberry & Goat Cheese Salad with edamame and cucumbers. It was literally what I had in my fridge and it happened to combine together for a delightful and delicious result.
I have found that traditional Israel salad is just the kind of salad that can be made into multiple variations, each one slightly different. For a little more spice you can add a pinch or two of sumac. You can leave out the peppers, leave out the cucumbers, or even add a few things, like chickpeas, feta and mint.
This salad came about like so many of my other favorite salad combinations. It was Saturday afternoon, my daughter was playing at the park with her dad and I was given a few moments to enjoy lunch by myself – glorious. Wine might have also been involved. I looked in the fridge, and threw together what I had: tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, chickpeas and feta!
And by adding chickpeas and feta, this classic side salad becomes a light but hearty main dish packed with protein, fiber and most importantly, flavor.
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, diced
¼ cup diced red onion
2 scallions, sliced
1 ½ cups canned chickpeas, rinsed
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice from ½ lemon
Salt and pepper
Combine tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, red onion, scallion, chickpeas and feta cheese in a medium bowl.
Dress with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle fresh mint on top.