When a medium-sized kosher brisket cracked $100, sticker shock gave way to this realization: the meat cost more (at that time) than 10 shares of a certain iconic company.
The brisket stayed in the butcher’s fridge. And it was back to the drawing board for a holiday fish-vegetarian menu.
This year’s tripleheaders of Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot yamim tovim followed by Shabbat can challenge both cooks and eaters alike. Who can pack away so many consecutive meals, especially late in the evening?
But this is terrific incentive to aim for lighter eating and to use the new year’s fresh slate to trim fat in the kitchen.
This yom tov, if you want hot but lighter fare for at least one meal, aim for a protein-packed soup, with challah and a green salad. Or scoop out an appetizer on your dinner plate accompanied by mixed salads, like roast pepper, coleslaw or spiced carrot.
One of my favourite dishes that does double duty for the holidays is a flavourful tortilla and bean dish, which manages to stay hot in the sukkah! The recipe is adapted from Mollie Katzen’s Chilaquile Casserole in her Still Life With Menu cookbook (Ten Speed Press) – even now, some 20 years after first tasting this dish, I’m continually giving it a new twist with different ingredients.
The other recipe is an easy vegetarian pâté that’s a first cousin to chopped liver. If you don’t have a hand blender, buy one. It makes fast work of pureeing soups and bean pâtés like this one.
Chop two good-sized onions, sprinkle lightly with paprika and sauté on low heat for 10 minutes in a few tablespoons of water to prevent sticking. Add a little more liquid if necessary.
Stir in eight pieces of oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (I am partial to the jarred Cedar Phoenicia brand). Drain a 19-oz. can of lentils, rinse lentils under cool water and add to the onion-tomato mixture with a pinch of thyme and a handful of chopped Italian parsley. Cover and cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When mixture has cooled, puree with a hand blender or in a food chopper. Sprinkle with black pepper (I use quite a bit), stir and chill. Wonderful on challah or pita, with sliced tomato and cucumber. For extra protein, grate in a couple of hard-cooked egg whites. (This dish gets its salt from the sun-dried tomatoes.)
Crush a package of plain tortilla chips (not too fine) to yield 1-1/4 cups. Spritz an 8- or 9-in. pie plate with non-stick spray and cover bottom with a thin layer of crushed chips. (There should be some left over.)
In a good-sized skillet, sauté two medium chopped onions with a half of a small chopped green pepper and half of a 14-oz. tin of diced tomatoes with mild green chilies. (If the latter is unavailable, add 1/2 tsp. of diced jalapenos from a jar to a can of diced tomatoes). Crumble in 1/2 tsp. of Italian seasoning and cook mixture 10-15 minutes on low heat, stirring often until most of the liquid evaporates. Scrape out into a bowl to cool.
Drain a 19-oz. can of black (turtle) beans, reserving some liquid. Using the same frying pan, place drained beans, four large pieces of oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, a teaspoon of ground cumin, half a teaspoon garlic powder and a liberal dash of chili powder. Stir and cook 10 minutes, adding some reserved bean liquid if mixture starts to stick. Empty mixture into a stainless steel bowl, blender or food processor and when cool, puree it.
Beat well three egg whites and two yolks with 1/2 cup of low-fat sour cream and 2/3 cup 1ow-fat milk.
Grate a hunk of low-fat mozzarella cheese to yield 1/2 cup.
Layer as follows: on top of the crushed tortilla chip layer, drop spoonfuls of the onion-green pepper mixture. Scatter the grated cheese on top, dusting with a tbsp. of crushed chips.
Drop spoonfuls of the bean puree on top. Sprinkle on another tablespoon of crushed chips.
Slowly pour egg mixture on the whole thing, making sure it seeps into the sides. Dust with any leftover crushed chips, and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.
If it’s made earlier in the day, cover with foil and warm it up gently. Leftovers don’t taste as good but I doubt there will be any.