Through the years, I’ve collected some tips and shortcuts to whip up delicious Shabbat meals quickly and easily, no matter how little time I have to prepare.
Fish cooks relatively quickly and can be super-fast to prepare. Favorites include:
- Teriyaki salmon (pour prepared sauce over raw salmon and baking until cooked through)
- Cod sautéed with olive oil and lemon juice (some salt, pepper and a sprinkling of chopped parsley and capers completes this attractive dish)
- Cold herring salad: place one cup pickled herring, 1 small peeled, cored apple and one small yellow onion in a food processor and chop until the mixture is finely diced, then add two peeled and diced hard boiled eggs. This is very nice served with challah.
- Baked baked gefilte fish is an unusual and delicious way to prepare this popular delicacy. Buy a loaf of raw gefilte fish, available in kosher markets. Unwrap, place in an oven pan, and either drizzle honey on top or spread apricot jam. Then bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree F oven until cooked through and slightly browned, about an hour and a half. Served chilled.
Creamy soups are often quick to make. I’ve found an invaluable kitchen tool is an immersion blender, so soups can be pureed directly in their cooking pot.
- One delicious version is creamy carrot soup: sauté 1 finely chopped onion and 1 lb. peeled and sliced carrots in 2 T olive oil and sauté until they begin to soften, about 4-5 minutes. Add ⅓ cup short-grain white rice (like Arborio) to pan, and add 4 cups of stock. (You can buy soup stock in the supermarket, or make your own using water and instant powdered soup stock.) Simmer until rice and carrots are soft, about half an hour. Then blend, either in a blender or in the pot using an immersion blender. Serve garnished with chives, if desired. (Adapted from Saved By Soup: More than 100 Delicious Low-Fat Soups to Eat and Enjoy Every Day by Judith Barrett, 1999.) Serves 6.
- If you’re working from home, making classic Shabbat chicken soup is a cinch: early in the morning, place about 2 lbs. of bone-in chicken pieces (or just chicken bones), about 20 cups of water, 4-6 carrots, a stick of celery, and an onion sliced in half in a soup pot. Season with lots of salt and pepper and bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, on a low flame all day long. (I let my soup simmer for up to 8 hours.) Check the water periodically; if it’s getting too low, add some more water and turn down the cooking flame. After the work day is over, strain the soup. It will golden and fragrant, and delicious served over noodles. (Note: you can easily double these amounts.) Serves approx. 12
Meat and Chicken Courses
- Slow cookers can be invaluable. One wonderful recipe for Herbed Beef Roast comes from the Betty Crocker Cookbook, New Edition (Betty Crocker, 1994): Brown a 3 lb. roast in a 12-inch skillet that you’ve first coated with a little oil; this will take about 5 minutes, as you turn the roast to brown all sides. Sprinkle with 1 t mixed dried herbs, 1 t salt and ½ t pepper. Transfer roast to a 4 or 5-quart slow cooker, add 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic and 1 cup balsamic or red wine vinegar. Cover and cook on Low heat for 6-8 hours. (Serves 6)
- Quick-cooking chicken fillets are another time-saver. Here’s a fantastic recipe for Chicken with Spring Onion and Mustard Sauce: Cut 8 chicken thigh fillets in half; place chicken in a bowl and toss with ¼ Dijon mustard until well coated. Heat 2 T oil in a large pan; add chicken in a single layer and cook over high heat for 5 minutes or until golden brown, turning once; remove from pan. Add 6 chopped spring onions (green onions) to pan and stir over medium heat for 1 minute. Add 1 T flour to the pan, and stir for another minute. Add 1 ½ chicken stock (this can be pre-purchased or made with water and instant powdered soup stock) and 1 T chopped thyme to pan. Stir until smooth and bring to a boil. Return chicken to the pan, reduce heat to low, and cook, uncovered, turning occasionally, for 10 minutes or until chicken is tender. (This is very nice served with rice.) Serves 6-8.
- Here is a quick and easy recipe for Lentils with Garlic and Onion. This makes a delicious vegetarian main dish, served with rice, or tasty side dish. Heat 4 T oil in a heavy pot over a medium flame; when hot, put in ½ t whole cumin seeds and 4 cloves of peeled and minced garlic. Sir until the garlic pieces turn a medium brown. Add 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped, and stir and fry until the onion pieces begin to turn brown at the edges. Add 1 cup of washed and drained lentils, and 3 cups water. Season with 1 t salt and ⅛ t cayenne pepper. Cover, turn heat to low, and simmer for about an hour or until the lentils are tender. (From Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey, 1982) Serves 6.
- Here is a quick, tasty recipe for Potato Croquettes from the classic French cookbook I know How to Cook by Ginette Mathiot, first published in 1932: Make mashed potatoes and wait for them to cool; shape into croquettes (small balls), and roll them in flour; dip the croquettes into beaten egg (use 2 eggs for about 2-3 lbs potatoes), then roll croquettes in bread crumbs. Heat oil in a deep pan, enough to cover croquettes, and heat until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 30 seconds. Fry the croquettes in batches until golden brown, then drain well. (Serves 6)
- Cookery writer Joan Nathan found this memorable recipe for Eggplant with Ginger and Soy Sauce in the Israeli town of Rosh Pina. It’s best served immediately after cooking. Cut 2 lbs of baby eggplants (or 2 large eggplants) into julienne slices about 5 inches long. Pour about 2 inches of olive oil into a frying pan or wok and heat to 375 degrees. Using about ½ cup of eggplant at a time, fry the strips until crispy, about 2-3 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels, then place in a serving bowl. Whisk together 1 inch of ginger root, grated; 2-3 T soy sauce, and 2 T honey. Pour sauce over the eggplant and mix well. (The Foods of Israel Today by Joan Nathan, 2001). Serves 6.
What are your favorite go-to shortcuts for preparing special Shabbat meals? Share your recipes in the comments section below.