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Jeff Nathan's 10 Favorite Recipes

November 3, 2011 | by Chef Jeff Nathan

Adventures in Jewish cooking with America's popular TV chef.

Throughout the year I'm often asked to share recipes with my guests from Abigael's or the many viewers that watch my TV show. No matter what I've already got printed in my cookbooks, it's just not enough. Good thing I love to cook and to share all my recipes! I've compiled ten of my favorites to share with readers. The real beauty of these dishes is that they're easy enough for use throughout the year, for any weeknight meal, and yet they're all special enough to prepare for the holidays, too. I hope you enjoy sampling a few of them!

Arugula, Fennel, and Orange Salad

This light and refreshing salad is a nice variation from the usual lettuces. It’s extraordinary enough that it makes any meal into a celebratory meal. Perfect for Shabbos company as is, or paired with grilled chicken for a casual luncheon.

Pareve, Makes 6 to 8 servings

Orange Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground fennel seed, optional
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 bunches arugula (about 1/2 pound), trimmed, well rinsed, and dried
  • 1/2 bulb fennel, crossed thinly sliced
  • 2 oranges, cut into supremes1
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

1. To make the vinaigrette, place the honey in a medium bowl and add the fennel seed, if using. Whisk in the orange and lemon juices. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season with salt, and pepper.

2. Combine the arugula, fennel, and oranges in a large bowl. Add the vinaigrette and toss well. Sprinkle with the pine nuts. Serve immediately.

Wild Rice Salad with Sweet Cherries & Sage

A New York autumn wouldn’t be complete without wild rice, apples and cranberries. This dish is such a favorite, that we make it all year ‘round! When the cherries are in season, use the red and yellow varieties.

Pareve, Yield: 6 - 8 servings

  • 2 6 – 8 oz packages wild rice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 8 cups water
  • 2/3 cup sun dried cherries
  • 1 cup celery, diced small (about 2 stalks)
  • 2 stalks scallions, (green & white), diced small
  • 1 cup orange sections (about 2 oranges)
  • 1 cup fresh fennel, diced small
  • 1/3 cup red onion, diced small
  • 1 ½ cups watercress leaves, rough chopped
  • ½ cup walnut pieces, rough chopped
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup cranberry juice
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2/3 cup fresh cherries, pitted & chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ½ cup walnut oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Soak rice 5 – 10 minutes in cool water. Drain and rinse.

Add salt to water and bring to a boil. Add in the wild rice and reduce heat. Cover loosely and cook 45 – 60 minutes until firm, yet tender (not mushy). Drain excess water, fluff with a fork and cover. Allow to stand for 5 minutes.

Transfer the wild rice to a large bowl. Stir in cherries and allow to cool. Add celery, scallions, orange sections, fennel, onion, watercress and walnuts. Gently combine. Cover and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the vinegar, juices and honey. Stir well. Add in chopped cherries and sage. While whisking continuously, or using a hand blender, pour in the remaining oils. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper and pour over the Wild Rice Salad. Serve at room temperature.


Prepare the additional salad ingredients and dressing while the rice is simmering.

This dish can be prepared up to 2 days ahead of time. Remove from fridge one hour before serving. Add dressing just before serving.


This dessert looks as good as it tastes! Its fresh and light taste will have you reaching for seconds before the first is even finished, and therefore this recipe easily doubles.

Pareve, Yield: 4


  • 2 ½ cups blueberries
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, about 2 – 3 lemons

Place all ingredients in a medium saucepot and cook over medium heat until blueberries burst. Using a hand blender, puree the blueberries. Pour into a plastic container and refrigerate, uncovered until cool.


  • 6 egg yolks
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • tablespoons sparkling wine
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2 cups whipped heavy cream or non-dairy whipped topping
  • ½ cup crumbled almond or coconut macaroons, lightly toasted

Using a hand whisk, combine the yolks and sugar in a bowl. Add in the sparkling wine, lemon juice and zest. Place the bowl over a double boiler and whisk until tripled in volume. Do not let the bowl touch the lightly simmering water below.

Remove from the heat and cool the base of the bowl over an ice-bath, whisking occasionally. When cool, fold in whipped cream and set aside.


In tall parfait or wineglasses, alternate layers of Blueberry Syrup, Lemon Zabaglione and crumbled macaroons until full. The final layers should be a drizzle of Blueberry Syrup and a sprinkle of crumbled macaroons.


A hearty soup that will put a smile on everyone’s face. Brisket never had such an updated make-over! The real beauty is that you’ve likely got the bulk of these ingredients already in the kitchen!

MEAT, Yield: 6 – 8

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds brisket or flanken, diced medium
  • 3 onions, diced medium
  • 2 celery stalks, diced medium
  • 2 carrots, diced medium
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dry oregano
  • 4 large potatoes, diced medium
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces ditalini pasta, cooked according to package directions

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil. In batches, sear the cubes of meat on all sides. Transfer the seared meat to a plate and reserve, keeping warm.

To the same soup pot place in the onions, celery, carrots and garlic. Cook over medium – high heat until the onions are wilted. Add in the chili powder and cumin. Stir. Add in the crushed tomatoes and water. Add the seared meat back to the pot, as well as any juices that remain. Bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer. Skim any residue that rises to the surface and discard.

Add in the bay leaf and oregano. Add in the potatoes for the last 20 minutes of cooking and continue cooking until the potatoes are tender. Season with the salt and pepper. Add in the cooked pasta and serve.

Chicken & Fruit Fricassee

Always a winner in my house for a mid-week meal. Vary the fruits with what you have in your pantry. I know you’ve got the apricots and figs, but you can also use dried cranberries, cherries and mango.

Meat, Yield: 4 - 6

  • ¾ cup dry figs
  • ¾ cup dry apricots, diced
  • ¾ cup golden raisins
  • 2 cups water, warm
  • ¼ cup brandy
  • pinch saffron
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • flour
  • 2 3 pound chickens, cut into eighths
  • 2 onions, diced medium
  • tablespoons garlic, chopped
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl combine the dry fruits with the water. Set aside and allow to plump at least 30 minutes. Drain and reserve the fruit water.

In a separate small bowl, combine the brandy with the saffron & cinnamon. Allow to steep 20 - 30 minutes. Stir well.

Dredge the chicken pieces in flour. In a large sauté pan of hot olive oil, brown the chicken on both sides. Transfer chicken to an ovenproof casserole. Pour off most of the remaining oil. Add the onions and garlic. Stir occasionally and cook until translucent. Add the dry fruits, tomato, brandy mix and reserved fruit water. Using a whisk, scrape the bottom of the pan for the pan drippings. Pour the sauce over the chicken.

Bake, uncovered at 350? F. for approximately 1 hour; or until the chicken is cooked through and sauce has thickened slightly.

Serve with couscous, rice pilaf, or herb simmered new potatoes.

Grilled Chicken on Mixed Greens with Mango Salsa

Talk about eating healthy! With the lean chicken and fresh produce this dish will inspire you to eat right on a regular basis! If only all healthy meals were this good!

Meat, Makes 4 servings

Mango Salsa

  • 2 ripe mangoes, pitted, peeled, and cut into think matchsticks
  • 1 small red bell pepper, seeds and ribs discarded, cut into thin matchsticks
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeds and ribs discarded, cut into thin matchsticks
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeds and ribs discarded, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Four 7-ounce skinless and boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces mixed field greens (Mesculin)
  • Lime wedges, for serving

1. To make the salsa, combine all of the ingredients and season with the salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.

2. Build a charcoal fire on one side of an outdoor grill and let burn until the coals are covered with white ash. For a gas grill, preheat on high. Keep one burner on high, and turn the other burner to low. Lightly oil the grill grate.

3. Lightly season the breasts with pepper. Place the breasts over the coals (or on the high burner of the gas grill) and cover the grill. Cook until sear marks form on the undersides of the breasts, about 2 minutes. Turn and repeat on the other side, about 2 minutes. Move the chickens to the side of the grill without the coals (or to the low burner on the gas grill) and cover the grill. Continue cooking until the chicken feels firm when pressed in the thickest part, about 12 minutes.

4. Heap equal amounts of the salad on four dinner plates. Top each with a chicken breast, then a large spoon of the salsa. Serve immediately with the lime wedges.

Orecchiette with Sardines and Stewed Tomatoes

A can of sardines never had it so good! Have you ever been in the mood for pasta but wanted something different than the usuals? Well, this one is it… and I’ll bet you have a can or two in the pantry just waiting to be used. The shape of this pasta lends itself to holding all the bits of sardine, tomato, olive and crumbs with just the right capacity for flavor.

Pareve, Yield: 3-4 servings

  • ¼ cup Marsala wine
  • ¼ cup dark raisins
  • pinch saffron
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced small
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 3 plum tomatoes, diced medium
  • 1/3 cup black olives, pitted (Gaeta, Kalamata, etc.)
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 2 4 - 5 ounce cans (approximate weight) sardines in olive oil, drained
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 cup arugula, rough chopped
  • 8 ounces orecchiette pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs, fried in butter and olive oil until toasted

In a small bowl combine the Marsala wine with the raisins and saffron. Set aside and allow to steep while preparing the remainder of the recipe.

In a medium sauté pan add olive oil, onions, garlic and hot red pepper flakes. Over low heat slowly cook until the onions are translucent and garlic is a light golden brown. Add in the tomatoes, olives and pine nuts. Sauté approximately 2 more minutes until heated through.

Add the sardines, and reserved Marsala, raisins and saffron. Heat through, stirring often, allowing the sardines to break into large pieces. Season with the salt, pepper and lemon juice, as needed.

Toss with the chopped arugula and pasta. Top with fried breadcrumbs as garnish when plated. Serve hot.

Salmon Corn Chowder

You don’t need a chilly day for this soup! Sweet summer corn simmered in butter makes this soup a treat any time of year. Add a salad, some fresh baked whole grain bread and you’ve got a light and perfect meal!

Dairy, Yield: 6 – 8 servings

  • 2 tablespoons sweet butter
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2/3 cup white onion, diced small
  • 2/3 cup celery, diced small
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced small
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup new potatoes, small diced (skin on)
  • 4 cups fish or vegetable stock
  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 2 cup fresh corn kernels
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • pound raw salmon filet, diced medium
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

In a large soup pot, melt the butter with the oil. Add onion, celery and bell pepper. Cook until lightly wilted, but no color is achieved.

Using a whisk stir in the flour, and cook 1 - 2 minutes. Add in the potatoes, stock and heavy cream. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender.

Stir in the corn, basil and salmon. Season with sugar, salt and pepper. Simmer approximately 8 - 10 minutes longer until the salmon is cooked through. Adjust seasonings. Serve hot.

Sea Bass Nicoise with Saffron Tomato Jus

A fabulous dish that’s been a highlight of the Abigael’s menus for years! Use salmon if the sea bass isn’t readily available, and serve with a crusty Italian bread to get at all the jus!

Fish / Pareve, Yield: 4

  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 12 cloves garlic
  • 1 pound fingerling potatoes
  • 4 8-ounce each, sea bass fillets
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh herbs ~ thyme, rosemary, Italian parsley
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • ¼ cup capers
  • ½ cup roasted red peppers, cut to small dice

Several ingredients to this dish need to be prepared ahead of time, so plan accordingly.

Remove the large fronds from the fennel bulb and discard. Cut the bulb in half, directly through the core. Lightly coat in olive oil and place on a greased baking sheet, with the cut side down.

Toss the whole cloves of garlic in olive oil and place on the baking sheet.

Toss the fingerling potatoes in olive oil and place on another section of the same baking sheet.

Bake the fennel, garlic and potatoes in a pre-heated 350 F. oven for approximately 45 – 60 minutes, until the fennel and garlic are fork tender and lightly caramelized, and the potatoes are fork tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the sauce~

  • 1 ½ cups vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup brandy
  • ½ teaspoon orange zest
  • small pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 15-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice (pureed w/ immersion blender)
  • ½ teaspoon toasted ground fennel seed
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the vegetable broth with the brandy, orange zest and saffron. Add in the tomatoes and fennel seed. Heat over medium-high flame until it reaches a strong boil. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer 15 – 20 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Cut the fennel into medium dice, cut the garlic cloves in half and cut the potatoes into ½” rounds. Combine all the prepared ingredients in a large bowl with the olives, capers and roasted red peppers. Toss with a little bit of olive oil.

Drizzle the sea bass with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle on the fresh herbs. Place the seasoned fish in a large roasting pan. Add in the prepared vegetables and sauce. Bake in the 350 F. oven for 12 – 15 minutes until the fish is cooked through.

Spice-Seared Salmon with Black Bean Salsa

Truly an unusual dish… this Mexican inspired treat packs an incredible amount of flavor into each of the components. On their own they can wake up any meal and together they are fabulous!

Pareve, Yield: 4 servings


  • 15 – 19 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • plum tomatoes, diced small
  • 1 orange, sectioned and cut into halves, juice reserved
  • ½ small red onion, diced small
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

In a medium sized bowl combine all the salsa ingredients and season with the salt and pepper. Cover and set aside. Allow flavors to combine at least 30 minutes before serving. The salsa can be made up to one day ahead, covered and refrigerated. Return to room temperature before serving.


  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • ½ tablespoon cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 8 ounce salmon filets, boneless and skinless
  • olive oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Spice Blend

In a small bowl combine all the spices and mix well. Coat the salmon filets with oil. Sprinkle the salmon on both sides with the Spice Blend. Heat a large skillet with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Sear the salmon, flesh side down. Cook for 3 – 4 minutes over medium - high heat. Turn and continue to cook until desired doneness is achieved.


  • 1/3 cup orange juice (add to the reserved juice from the salsa as needed)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

In a small bowl combine all the orange juice, honey, limejuice, cilantro, salt and fresh black pepper. Whisk to combine. Slowly add oil while whisking vigorously and reserve.

Place each piece of salmon on individual plates. Top with the Black Bean Salsa and drizzle the Orange Vinaigrette around the salmon. Garnish each plate with orange sections and chopped cilantro. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

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