Avocado Toast 101

There’s something about avocado toast. It’s healthy, it’s beautiful, it’s simple, and it’s portable, but the sum is so much more than it’s parts. A handful of simple ingredients is transformed into a luxurious meal. The best part? There’s no real recipe. Go sweet, go savory, pick simple or fancy, as long as you’ve got good bread and a perfect avocado, it’s golden.

The question I get most is “how do I choose a good avocado?”

I’ve bought hundreds of avikados (as B spells them) all in the name of research. The most common (and delicious!) variety is the Hass, with pebbled skin and a classic pear shape. You want to buy your avocados bright green, and rock hard. Look for the stem, just like a good etrog, if it’s attached, you’re ok. Avocados sold without the stem attached have been picked too early. They’ll go from green to mush.

Let these beauties ripen naturally on your counter. Good things take time! In a rush? Pop your avocados into a brown paper bag with an apple or banana and leave it in a warm spot. This’ll shave a day off ripening.

There’s no real “recipe” to making a good toast. You need bread (good bread! Not white bread!) and a perfectly ripe avocado. I typically aim for 1/3 of a large avocado OR 1/2 of a small avocado per slice of toast.

The only “requirement” is to salt and pepper each layer. After spreading the avocado, season with salt and pepper. Season your toppings too!

Toppings are endless. Here are my top 5- but the varieties are never ending. What’s your favorite?

The Brooklyn

1 slice of toast

Avocado

2 slices of lox or smoked salmon

Cooking spray

1 egg

1 tsp

1 tsp “Everything But the Bagel” seasoning

Salt & pepper

Spray a small skillet with cooking spray and set on a medium flame. Crack in one egg and DO NOT TOUCH IT! When the egg has a soft yolk and crisp edges, turn off the flame. Mash the avocado onto the toast, season, add smoked salmon and egg. Sprinkle with EBTB seasoning.

The Hipster

1 slice of toast

Avocado

2 TB crumbled feta

1 TB pomegranate seeds

1 tsp truffle oil

Salt & pepper

Mash avocado onto toast and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with feta and pomegranate. Drizzle with truffle oil. Season with salt and pepper.

The Philosopher

1 slice of toast

Avocado

2 TB plain Greek yogurt

1 small Persian cucumber

1 tsp Zaatar

Salt & pepper

Spread the avocado onto the toast and season with salt and pepper. Arrange cucumber and spread yogurt onto toast. Sprinkle with Zaatar and salt and pepper.

The Bruschetta

1 slice of toast

Avocado

1/4 c grape tomatoes

1 frozen basil cube

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp olive oil

Salt & pepper

Halve the tomatoes and combine in a small bowl with basil, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Allow to sit while preparing toast. Spread avocado on toast, stir tomato mixture and add to toast. (Extra vinegar mixture can be drizzled on toast!)

The Sesame Ginger

1 slice of toast

Avocado

1/4 c shredded, spiralized, or cooked/cubed beets

1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp rice vinegar

Salt & pepper

Sesame seeds

In a small bowl, combine beets, ginger, oil, vinegar, salt, pepper. Spread avocado on toast. Arrange beet mixture over avocado and sprinkle with sesame seeds, salt and pepper

Avocado Toast 101

There’s something about avocado toast. It’s healthy, it’s beautiful, it’s simple, and it’s portable, but the sum is so much more than it’s parts. A handful of simple ingredients is transformed into a luxurious meal. The best part? There’s no real recipe. Go sweet, go savory, pick simple or fancy, as long as you’ve got good bread and a perfect avocado, it’s golden.

The question I get most is “how do I choose a good avocado?”

I’ve bought hundreds of avikados (as B spells them) all in the name of research. The most common (and delicious!) variety is the Hass, with pebbled skin and a classic pear shape. You want to buy your avocados bright green, and rock hard. Look for the stem, just like a good etrog, if it’s attached, you’re ok. Avocados sold without the stem attached have been picked too early. They’ll go from green to mush.

Let these beauties ripen naturally on your counter. Good things take time! In a rush? Pop your avocados into a brown paper bag with an apple or banana and leave it in a warm spot. This’ll shave a day off ripening.

There’s no real “recipe” to making a good toast. You need bread (good bread! Not white bread!) and a perfectly ripe avocado. I typically aim for 1/3 of a large avocado OR 1/2 of a small avocado per slice of toast.

The only “requirement” is to salt and pepper each layer. After spreading the avocado, season with salt and pepper. Season your toppings too!

Toppings are endless. Here are my top 5- but the varieties are never ending. What’s your favorite?

The Brooklyn

1 slice of toast

Avocado

2 slices of lox or smoked salmon

Cooking spray

1 egg

1 tsp

1 tsp “Everything But the Bagel” seasoning

Salt & pepper

Spray a small skillet with cooking spray and set on a medium flame. Crack in one egg and DO NOT TOUCH IT! When the egg has a soft yolk and crisp edges, turn off the flame. Mash the avocado onto the toast, season, add smoked salmon and egg. Sprinkle with EBTB seasoning.

The Hipster

1 slice of toast

Avocado

2 TB crumbled feta

1 TB pomegranate seeds

1 tsp truffle oil

Salt & pepper

Mash avocado onto toast and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with feta and pomegranate. Drizzle with truffle oil. Season with salt and pepper.

The Philosopher

1 slice of toast

Avocado

2 TB plain Greek yogurt

1 small Persian cucumber

1 tsp Zaatar

Salt & pepper

Spread the avocado onto the toast and season with salt and pepper. Arrange cucumber and spread yogurt onto toast. Sprinkle with Zaatar and salt and pepper.

The Bruschetta

1 slice of toast

Avocado

1/4 c grape tomatoes

1 frozen basil cube

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp olive oil

Salt & pepper

Halve the tomatoes and combine in a small bowl with basil, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Allow to sit while preparing toast. Spread avocado on toast, stir tomato mixture and add to toast. (Extra vinegar mixture can be drizzled on toast!)

The Sesame Ginger

1 slice of toast

Avocado

1/4 c shredded, spiralized, or cooked/cubed beets

1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp rice vinegar

Salt & pepper

Sesame seeds

In a small bowl, combine beets, ginger, oil, vinegar, salt, pepper. Spread avocado on toast. Arrange beet mixture over avocado and sprinkle with sesame seeds, salt and pepper

Sweet Potato & Cranberry Strudel 

Thanksgiving is coming! There’s turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes and green beans… and oh, @&$!, you forgot the appetizer. 
Well.. I didn’t! My goal was to come up with something simple and seasonal that would please (almost) everyone. Deli rolls and mini meatballs are heavy. Franks in blankets are boring. No one wants to fry right before guests arrive. And don’t forget the vegetarian! Tall order, right?
Even taller, if you want to prep and freeze ahead of time. I decided to make sweet potato wonton cups but I gave up after scooping sweet potatoes into wontons. Too much patchke, and who really wants to deal with making a zillion wonton cups?
I had this giant vat of leftover sweet potato and some cranberry sauce. (I make my own sauce throughout the winter and use it on toast and in yogurt) Of course, there was a package of puff pastry in my freezer. (Because, Jewish gals and puff pastry are BFF) 
I decided to combine the three with some herbs to make a savory strudel. Silky sweet potatoes, tart cranberry sauce, and flaky dough? Heaven on earth. Or a great appetizer that you set down and forget about, since, you know, that turkey might be burning!
The best part about this? It’s an amazing vehicle for leftovers. Add some leftover cubes of turkey to the strudel, pop it in the freezer and take it out for a Shabbat appetizer in the future. They’ll think you slaved all day!
I make my own cranberry sauce, and I’m sharing the recipe below. Feel free to use the canned stuff. Time is money, yo!
Steaming the sweet potatoes locks in their bright color and nutrients. I use a pot with a steamer insert. Don’t have one? Use a colander over a regular pot and cover with any lid. 
The recipe below makes two strudels. Bake one now and hide one in the freezer for later! 
Sweet Potato & Cranberry Strudel 
1 recipe cranberry sauce (below)

2lb sweet potatoes 

2 TB olive oil 

Salt & pepper 

1 tsp dried thyme (optional)

2 sheets puff pastry 

1 egg yolk 

1 tsp dried thyme 
Prepare the potato mixture: 

Peel and cube the sweet potatoes. Place cubes in a steamer insert or colander. Put the insert in a pot with 3-4″ of water ann cover. Turn flame on to medium and steam 20-30 minutes. Potatoes should be very tender. 
Transfer potatoes to a bowl and mash with oil, thyme,salt, and pepper. Allow to cool before forming strudel 
Defrost puff pastry and lay out flat. Place dollops of potato filling down the center of the pastry, leaving about 2″ of plain pastry overhang on both sides. Smooth potato filling.Place spoonfuls of cranberry sauce down the center of the potato mixture. 
Using a very sharp knife, cut slits in the pastry. Fold the thin strips of pastry over the filling, overlapping to form a braid. 
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk. Brush onto strudel. Sprinkle with dried thyme.’
Freeze immediately or bake at 425 for 20 minutes, or until golden. Serve warm or at room temp. 

Cranberry Sauce: 

2 c fresh cranberries 

Zest of one orange 

1/4 c orange juice 

1/4 c maple syrup 

1/4 c water 

Pinch of salt 
Combine all in a small saucepan. Cook over a low flame, stirring occasionally until most of the cranberries have popped. The sauce will have thickened, but will be a bit runny. It will thicken as it cools. 

Savory Onion Rugalech

Ages ago, I was talking to my friend Devorah about appetizers. I needed a prep ahead, vegetarian appetizer, without mushrooms. Tall order, but she came to the rescue! She suggested (in a British accent!) onion rugalech. Her recipe: cook onions, wrap in dough. 
So, for the past year, I’ve been frying onions, wrapping in dough, and serving these beauties to guests. They were always snapped up and the recipe was always requested. But.. “cook onions, wrap in dough” didn’t go over too well (even if I said it in a British accent) 

How many onions? What kind of dough? Do I reaalllllly need to fry the onions? 
I decided to pull out my measuring cups (yes, I do own them, because once in a blue moon, I bake!) and write up an actual recipe for these lovelies. (Use your British accent here, kids) 
For this recipe, I use malawach dough. It’s an Israeli disk of ultra crispy, flaky and delicious dough. It’s typically served pan fried with a dip of grated or puréed tomatoes. I defrost the disks and use a pizza cutter to make wedges. 
Fried onions are a staple in my house. There’s always a mason jar in the fridge and a ziplock in the freezer. It’s the topping to the classic Thursday night mujudrah (rice and lentils), but I’ve found so many other creative uses! These take time to make, but mostly unattended. Feel free to double or triple or make 10lb of onions! 

(Pro- tip: wear a shower cap while frying. Then you won’t have random people asking if you fried onions) 
Want to prep ahead? Line up your unbaked rugalech on a cookie sheet. Freeze until solid and then transfer to a ziplock bag. Hide them in the freezer. No need to defrost before baking- just add a few minutes to the baking time. 
Savory Onion Rugalech 
1 package malawach dough (6 disks)

2 TB oil 

1/4c water (optional)

2-3 onions (to equal 4c)

6 cloves garlic 

Salt and pepper 

1 egg 

Sesame seeds (optional) 
Make the onion mixture: 

Warm the oil in a small nonstick saucepan or skillet. Mince the garlic and thinly slice the onions into half moons. Add carefully to the oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook on a low flame, stirring occasionally, until onions are very dark brown, almost burnt looking. Cool the mixture before filling the Rugalech. This can be made in advance!
Open the package of malawach disks, and allow to defrost. Keep each disk wrapped in plastic until ready to use. The disks should be pliable, but not mushy.
Unwrap one disk and place on a flat surface, like a cutting board. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut each disk into 8 equal wedges. 
Using a small fork or spoon, fill the wider side of each triangle with onion mixture. Roll up, tucking the tip of the dough under the Rugalech. Arrange on a baking tray, making sure the filled Rugalech don’t touch each other. 
In a small bowl, beat the egg. Brush each Rugalech with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. 
Freeze for later, or bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes. Rugalech should be crisp and golden! 

Bissli Salad

This one goes out to my picky People. (Quite literally, because they can pick out what they don’t like!) Simple, crunchy, and delicious, this salad has no greens to wash.  
I love salad, but I hate cleaning greens, and my kids hate eating them. Cooked greens? No problem! Caesar salad? No problem! But now much sautéed kale and Caesar dressing can a person eat?

This salad has all the good stuff- Bissli, pickles and olives, plus lots healthy fresh veggies. Celery and peppers add crunch. Grape tomatoes hold their shape and add color. The delicious and the healthy go hand in hand here- there’s only a few handfuls of Bissli in the salad. The whole combo makes for a bright and beautiful dish. 

My favorite part? The ease of prep. Chop everything the day before, pop it in the fridge, and forget about it till serving time! The dressing is amazingly fresh and can be made directly on the salad- no blender or separate bowl needed. (For the ultra picky, just dress with oil and salt and serve lemon wedges on the side) 

This is an excellent option for Shabbat lunch! Add grilled chicken, chickpeas, or cubes of sautéed tofu for a more complete meal. 
Bissli Salad 

1 c grape tomatoes 

2 Persian cucumbers 

2 ribs celery 

2 pickles (deli half sour or Israeli)

1 bell pepper

1 c black olives 

1 snack bag Bissli 
Dressing: 

1 TB olive oil 
1 lemon 

Salt & pepper 
Method:

Wash the vegetables and peel the celery. Slice the grape tomatoes and olives in half. 

Dice the cucumber, celery, and pickles. Combine all in a medium bowl, and squeeze lemon over top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil. Toss to combine. Top with Bissli. 

Working Lunch

Yesterday, I led a group of ladies in a corporate team building event.  These are  women who hold high pressure desk jobs, and crave healthy, simple, and inexpensive brown bag lunches. We discussed the limitations and roadblocks to bringing lunch from home. 

I asked the team members why they didn’t brown bag it more often: 

Their responses? 

“It’s expensive”

“It’s boring”

“I don’t know how to pack it so it stays fresh”

“I have no time!!!!!”

My responses? Carve out a little time for prep, and bring meals that are meant to marinate or hang out in the fridge. My “make it yourself” Miso Veggie Ramen Soup requires a container full of fridge-stable goodies, hot water (oh, hello, coffeemaker) and some Asian condiments. (Did you ever see little packets of sriracha and soy sauce at sushi shops? No? Well… look again! And grab a few with your next takeout order, they’re perfect for your desk) 
A banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich loaded with texture and flavor. In my life hack version, we skip cooking up protein and we go with hot smoked salmon. This stuff looks like a salmon fillet, but is hot smoked and fully cooked. It comes vacuum packed or plastic wrapped and it has a pretty long shelf life in the fridge. All you need to do is remove the skin and tear it into bite size bits. Not a fish eater? Tofu, seitan, turkey, chicken(I’m talking about you, leftover soup chicken!) Quick pickles vegetables add zing and crunch, while spicy mayo gives a huge flavor boost! 

Invest in some quality containers, good ingredients, and carve out a chunk of time. Workday lunches just got SO much better! 

Smoked Salmon Banh Mi

Picked vegetables: 

1 bag shredded carrots 

1 red pepper 

4 Persian cucumbers 

2 shallots 

1 bunch cilantro 

1 TB sugar 

1 TB sesame oil

1/4c rice vinegar 

Salt & pepper 

– Thinly slice the red pepper and cucumber. Peel and mince the shallot. Roughly chop the cilantro. Combine all in a large bowl and sprinkle with sugar, salt, and pepper. Add sesame oil and rice vinegar and stir to coat. Allow to sit and “pickle”
Sriracha Lime Aioli 

1c light mayo 

2 limes 

Sriracha (to taste) 

Salt 

-combine mayo and lime juice in a small bowl. Stir in sriracha and salt. Taste for seasoning. Store in a squeeze bottle or sealed container. 
2 large baguettes 

1 lb hot smoked salmon 
To assemble: 

– Slice baguettes in half lengthwise 

– Spread bottom half of baguette with Aioli 

– Flake salmon, removing skin, and add to sandwich 

– Top with pickled vegetables, draining liquid if necessary

– Close sandwich and wrap tightly in foil 
Equipment: 

Tinfoil 

Knife 

Small mixing bowl 

Medium mixing bowl 

2 large platters 

Mixing spoons 

Miso Veggie Ramen Soup 
3 packages rice noodles (Thai style)

1 container miso (white or red)

1 package firm or extra firm tofu 

1/2 lb snap peas 

1 bag shredded red cabbage 

1 package enoki mushrooms (thin strands, at Asian markets, if not avail sub thinly sliced baby Bella mushrooms)

1 bag shredded carrots 

Soy sauce 

Sesame oil 

Chile garlic paste 

Sriracha 

Salt & pepper 
Method: 

Place a tablespoon of miso paste into the bottom of each container. 

Break rice noodles into chunks and place in quart containers. Chop snap peas and mushrooms and add to containers. Add carrots and red cabbage to containers. Dice tofu and add to containers. Each container can be sealed and refrigerated at this point. 

To serve: fill 3/4 of the way up with hot water. Using a spoon or fork, mix miso into water, creating a broth. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, chile garlic paste, sriracha, salt and pepper to taste, and fill water almost to the top. Stir one more time to incorporate flavors. 
Equipment: 

6 quart containers 

Mixing spoon 

Knife & cutting board 

Paper towels 

Hot water urn or kettle 


Black Bean Burrito Bowls 
6 bags steam-in-the-bag brown rice 

3 cans black or red beans 

4 limes 

1 TB smoked paprika 

Garlic powder (to taste)

6 avocados 
– Steam rice according to package directions 

– Drain beans. Add in the juice of 2 limes, smoked paprika, and garlic powder. Coarsely mash. 

– Peel and scoop avocados into a medium bowl. Mash with the juice of 2 limes and salt. 
Salsa: 

6 large tomatoes 

1 small red onion 

1 bunch parsley 

Small can green chiles (optional)

2 TB olive oil 

1 tsp cumin 

Salt & pepper 

– Cut tomatoes in half and remove seeds. Roughly chop and place in large bowl. Peel and dice red onion, place in small bowl of ice water for 5 minutes. Mince parsley and add to tomato mixture. Add chiles and drained red onion. Season with olive oil, cumin, salt & pepper. Stir and taste for seasonings. 
To serve:

Layer rice, beans, avocado and salsa in a container. 
Equipment:

Microwave

Large platter 

3 mixing bowls 

Knife & cutting board 

Small bowl 

Ice water 


Feta & Watermelon Salad 

 

8 c fresh watermelon 

2 c feta cheese 

2 small shallots 

Small bowl of ice water 

1/2c fresh mint leaves 

2 limes

2 TB olive oil 

Salt & pepper 
Peel and thinly slice shallot and soak in ice water for 5-10 minutes. This removes the strong onion flavor. 

Cut watermelon into 1″ cubes and place in a mixing bowl. Crumble feta into bowl. Thinly slice the mint and add it to the watermelon mixture. Drain the shallot, pat it dry, and add to the salad. Dress with oil and lime and taste. Season with salt and pepper as needed. 

Keep in mind, the flavors get stronger as the salad sits. The salad can be dressed before serving. 
Equipment: 

Mixing bowl 

Knife & cutting board 

Small bowl of ice water 

Shopping List:

1 bag shredded red cabbage 

2 bags shredded carrots 

1 red pepper 

4 Persian cucumbers 

1/2lb snap peas

6 avocados 

1 pkg enoki mushrooms (they look like strings, if not avail, sliced mushrooms are ok)

4 shallots 

1 red onion 

6 large tomatoes 

1 bunch parsley 

1 bunch cilantro 

1 bunch mint 

8 limes 

1/2 watermelon 

2 c feta (2 bricks)

1 pkg firm or extra firm tofu 

 1 container miso paste (red or white)
6 bags steam in the bag rice 

2 baguettes 

1 lb hot smoked salmon (this looks like salmon fillets. It’s sold vacuum packed)
3 pkgs Asian style rice noodles 

(These are white/clear noodles, they’re sold in a bag)
3 cans black or red beans 

Small can green chiles 

Olive oil 

Soy sauce 

Sesame oil 

Sriracha 

Chile garlic paste 

Rice vinegar 

Light mayo 

Sugar (1TB)
Salt 

Pepper 

Smoked paprika 

Garlic powder 

Cumin 

I presented this menu for a Women’s Circle event. We prepped & cooked in about 1.5 hours (I know!)

In these dishes, I incorporated the traditional simanim into the dishes. These would work  wonderfully for any event- not necessarily Rosh Hashanah!

A huge key part of getting this meal prepped and ready is taking help from the store! I buy pomegranate seeds, pre shredded slaw ingredients, and chicken already cut up! Frozen leeks are an amazing hack, if available! 
The fig jam is amazing on its own, spooned over chicken, as a glaze for salmon, or in yogurt parfaits. (Or just save it in a mason jar. It needs to be a mason jar for ultimate hipster status.)
Herb Roasted Chicken with Leeks
“Burnt” Eggplant & Pomegranate 
Apple Carrot Slaw/ Honey Chile Vinaigrette 
Apple & Fig Tart 


Herb Roasted Chicken with Leeks 

1 chicken, cut into 8ths or 10ths 

2 fresh leeks OR 1 bag frozen leeks 

6-8 cloves garlic 

1 c fresh herbs (parsley, tarragon, thyme, rosemary, sage) 

1/2c extra virgin olive oil 

Salt & pepper 

Cooking spray 

Prepare the leeks: slice off the dark green part of the leeks and discard or save for stock. Slice off the root. Cut each leek in half lengthwise and run under cool water. Roughly chop the leeks and soak in a bowl of cold water. Lift the leeks out of the water and pat dry. (If using frozen leeks, skip this step and just defrost) 

Prepare the herb mixture: mince the garlic and herbs and mix with olive oil, salt, and pepper 

Prepare the chicken: scatter the leeks on the bottom of a baking dish. Arrange the chicken pieces on top and season with salt and pepper. Smear with herb mixture. 

Bake uncovered for 40-50 minutes or until juices run clear. 


“Burnt” Eggplant & Pomegranate 

2 medium eggplants 

1/4c tahini paste 

1 small orange 

2-3TB warm water 

Salt & pepper 

1/2c pomegranate seeds 

1/2c pistachios (optional) 
Slice off the top and bottom of eggplant. Cut into 1/4″ thick slices. Grease a cookie sheet and arrange eggplant slices in a single layer. Spray the eggplant with a generous amount of cooking spray. Broil 2-3 minutes per side or until lightly charred. 

To make the tahini, whisk tahini, juice of half an orange, warm water, salt, and pepper until smooth. It should be the thickness of pancake batter. 

To serve, drizzle tahini over eggplant. Sprinkle with orange zest, pomegranate seeds and pistachios. 


Apple Carrot Slaw with Honey Chile Vinaigrette 

1 Granny Smith apple 

1 honeycrisp or Fuji apple 

1 bag shredded carrots

1 bag coleslaw mix 

1 bag shredded red cabbage 

3/4c apple cider 

1/4c honey 

1/4c olive oil 

Big pinch of chile flakes 

Salt & pepper 

1 TB dijon mustard 
Core the apples and thinly slice into matchsticks. Combine in a large bowl with carrots and cabbage. 

Whisk the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, making sure to incorporate honey. 

Pour dressing over slaw and toss to combine. 

Fig & Apple Tarts 

Fresh fig jam: 
 2 pints fresh figs 

2 TB honey 

1/2-2/3 c water 
Apple topping: 

2-3 crisp apples (honeycrisp, macintosh)

1 TB sugar 

1 tsp cinnamon 
24 mini puff pastry squares 

To make the fig jam, roughly chop the figs. Combine them with the honey and water in a small saucepan. Mash with a fork while jam cooks. Add water if the mixture looks dry. Continue cooking until mixture is reduced and syrupy. Allow to cool. 
To make the apple topping, peel and thinly slice the apples. Toss with sugar and cinnamon to coat apples. 
To assemble, press a square of puff pastry into a muffin cup. Top with a spoonful of jam. Arrange the apple slices over the fig mixture. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes or until pastry is golden. 

Shopping List: 

Cooking spray 

Olive oil 

Honey 

Dijon mustard 

Tahini paste

Salt

Pepper

Chile flakes 

Cinnamon 

Sugar

Shelled pistachios (optional) 
1 chicken (cut into 8ths or 10ths)
1 package mini puff pastry squares 
2 leeks (OR 1 bag frozen)

6-8 cloves peeled garlic 

Herbs: parsley & tarragon (OR sage OR rosemary) 

2 medium eggplants 

1 orange

Pomegranate seeds 

2 pints figs 

1 Granny Smith apple 

3 honeycrisp OR macintosh apples 

1 bag coleslaw 

1 bag shredded red cabbage 

1 bag shredded carrots 
1 container apple cider 

Equipment: 

Knife & cutting board 

Baking dish for chicken 

2 cookie sheets 

Small bowls & forks 

Large bowl for Slaw 

Muffin pans (disposable is fine!)

Bridal Shower Fun

I’m sharing this here because it’s my style of cooking in a nutshell. Simple ingredients. No frills. No fuss. Minimal mess. Foil pans. (Whoever invented those should win a Nobel Peace Prize)

This menu feeds about 10-15 hungry people. If I wanted to feed more, I’d add a grain salad (check out my quinoa salad, wheatberry salad, or skip the chicken in my fattoush salad), Caesar salad (hi, dressing I posted a few days ago), and another fish dish. 
This is an excellent Sukkot meal- the gazpacho can be ladeled out into disposable mugs ahead of time. Fancier folks can serve up individual pizzas in pizza boxes. The salmon holds beautifully at room temp. Dessert? Bring on the Carvel cake! (All vanilla for me, my birthday is in January!) 
Like what you see here? I’m launching an all new menu planning service. Give me your crowd, your allergies, your likes, your dislikes… and I’ll plan your menu and write up your shopping list! 

Let me know if you’re interested! 
Gazpacho 
3-4 large tomatoes 
2 stalks celery, peeled 

1 red pepper 

1 small shallot 

1 large English cucumber 

2-3tb red wine vinegar 

1/4c olive oil 

Salt & pepper 

Garlic powder 

Handful fresh parsley (or basil or cilantro) 
Chop all vegetables into large chunks. Pulse shallot and celery in food processor until finely chopped. Add all other vegetables – with machine running add oil and vinegar. Stop machine, scrape down sides. Season with salt, pepper and garlic pepper. Puree again. Taste, season if needed. Chill and taste before serving.
Sourdough croutons: 

7-8 slices sourdough bread 

1/4c olive oil 

2 TB smoked paprika 

Salt & pepper 
Cube or tear the bread into bite size pieces. Spread on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil and sprinkle with seasonings. Using clean hands, toss to coat bread with spices. Bake (any temp between 350-425 works) until golden brown. 
Serve over gazpacho or in small ramekins on the side. 
Equipment: 

Knife

Cutting board 

Blender 

Serving bowl 

Baking tray 


Maple Mustard Salmon 
3-4lb side of salmon 

3/4c maple syrup 

1/2c horseradish mustard 

Salt & pepper 

2 oranges 
Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and lay salmon on top. Pat salmon dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Slice one orange in half, and juice half the orange into a bowl. Reserve the other half. Add mustard, maple syrup, salt and pepper to the bowl. Stir to combine. Brush maple mixture evenly over salmon. 

Slice remaining orange and half orange into thin slices. Arrange on top of fish. 

Bake for 20-35 minutes at 450. Cool slightly before serving.
Equipment:

Cutting board 

Knife 

Measuring cup 

Baking tray 


Margherita Pizza + Arugula Salad 
2 balls fresh pizza dough (1lb each)

15oz can crushed tomatoes 

2 ripe tomatoes 

3-4TB olive oil 

2 balls fresh mozzarella 

Fresh basil 

Salt & pepper 

1 box fresh arugula 

1 lemon 

1/2c Parmesan cheese 
Stretch out the pizza dough to fit baking trays. Using fingertips, make indentations in the dough. Spread the crushed tomatoes in a thin layer over the dough. Season with salt and pepper. Thinly slice the mozzarella and tomatoes. Arrange the cheese, basil leaves and tomatoes over the sauce. Bake at 450 until dough is crisp and cheese is bubbly. 
Salad topping: 

In a mixing bowl, add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Tear basil leaves and add to dressing. Add in arugula and gently toss, coating leaves in dressing. Too pizza with salad mixture and sprinkle with Parmesan. 

Equipment:

Knife 

Cutting board 

2 baking trays 

Mixing bowl 


Marinated Feta 
2 bricks of feta (Pastures of Eden brand preferred)

1/3c kalamata olives 

1/3c sundried tomatoes (packed in oil)

1/4c roasted red peppers (jarred, not pickled)

1 c multicolored cherry tomatoes 

1 shallot 

1 tsp garlic powder 

1 tsp red pepper flakes 

Salt & pepper 

 2 TB olive oil 

Cooking spray 
Chop olives, sundried tomatoes, shallot, roasted and peppers. Halve cherry tomatoes, or quarter if large. Combine all in a mixing bowl and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Place the feta in a greased baking dish. Spread the tomato mixture over and around the feta. Bake at 425-450 for 10-15 minutes, until warm. 
Equipment: 

Knife 

Cutting board 

Baking dish 

Mixing bowl 

Shopping List:

1 container multicolored cherry tomatoes 

6 large tomatoes 

Celery 

1 box arugula 

1 red pepper

1 lemon 

2 oranges 

1 large English cucumber 

2 shallots 

Fresh basil 
Red wine vinegar 

Olive oil 

Cooking spray 

15oz can crushed tomatoes 

Maple syrup 

Horseradish mustard 
Salt 

Pepper 

Garlic powder 

Smoked paprika 

Red pepper flakes 
Sourdough bread 

2 balls fresh pizza dough 

3-4LB salmon 
2 bricks feta (pastures of Eden brand is best)

2 balls fresh mozzarella 

Grated Parmesan 
Kalamata olives 

Jarred roasted red peppers 

Sundried tomatoes (in oil)

Simple Caesar Dressing (allergy free)

Caesar salad is a favorite in our house, though we call it “scissor.” Crisp lettuce, croutons, and a creamy dressing… what could go wrong?
Well, for starters, many storebought dressings basically taste like sweet mayo. My go-to recipe uses anchovies and Parmesan, which is useless for a grilled chicken Caesar. 

I’ve tried countless cashew based versions, and they’re delicious, but I wanted a nut free version. (Sunflower seeds just don’t have the same effect. I’ve tried. More than once)

I was getting out ingredients for my basic vinaigrette, when I came across a can of hearts of palm. THAT WAS THE ANSWER! 

Hearts of palm! It would blend up smooth and creamy and neutral tasting- the perfect mayo sub! Capers stood in for olives, and a ton of black pepper added punch. Make sure to drizzle in the water and oil into the feed tube of the food processor to get the emulsion going. 

I DID IT! Simple, quick, allergy free Caesar with (almost) everyday ingredients. There’s no fish, dairy, nuts, or eggs here. Just wholesome, vegan hearts of palm! 
Simple Caesar Dressing 

1 can hearts of palm 

1 garlic clove 

1 TB dijon mustard 

1 TB capers 

1/4c lemon juice 

Salt & pepper 

3/4 c water

2 TB extra virgin olive oil

Drain and rinse the hearts of palm. Chop and measure one cup. Reserve the leftover for another use. 

In a food processor or blender, blend hearts of palm, garlic, mustard, capers, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Blend until very well combined. Scrape down sides. Turn on the machine and open the feed tube. Slowly drizzle in the water and then the oil until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Taste for seasonings and add salt if needed. 

Store leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator. 

Note: dressing may separate in the fridge. Give it a quick stir and you’re good to go!

Fakeout Takeout Lo Mein 

The elusive Lo Mein. Why can’t it ever be delicious? Maybe it looks awesome. (Spoiler alert: it never is) It’s either greasy or dry or both. Or the veggie is a few random pieces of broccoli. 

My version has the best of both worlds- it’s simple and it’s delicious. Ready to stir fry noodles make this a one pot dish. Literally, one pot, one knife, one cutting board. You can even skip the measuring cup and eyeball the ingredients! 
(Super pressed for time? Pre cut veggies!)

Noodle Notes: 

I like the Twin Marquis brand, which is available with an OU in Asian groceries. Many larger supermarkets stock this brand- either in the fridge near the tofu or in the freezer near the dumpling wrappers.

I like the “stir fry ready” type, which means no pre cooking is required. 

If these aren’t available (or shlepping isn’t your game), linguine works great. Just boil it separately till it’s a tiny bit undercooked. If using this option, skip the extra water in the recipe. 

Gluten free? Rice noodles!! Soak them in hot water for a minute or two and then continue with the recipe. You won’t need the extra water in the recipe, unless the noodles start to stick together. 

The veggies I use here are our favorites. But every family has an eggplant hater or a mushroom hater or an anything that grows in the ground hater. Use what you (and your people) like. One rule: firmer veggies go in first, tender veggies usually go in last. Basic rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t eat it raw, sauté it early on. 

I list sesame oil as an optional ingredient since it’s a common allergy. So many schools are nut & sesame free… and this is a perfect school lunch! Skip it if you’d like! 

Got Protein?
Add in your protein as you sauté the garlic. Seitan, tofu, and chicken all work beautifully. Leftover chicken from the soup? Add it at the end, so that it warms through. 

This is more of a method than a written-in-stone recipe. Let me know how you plan on mixing it up! 

Fakeout Takeout Lo Mein 

2 TB vegetable oil 

8 cloves minced garlic 

2 c sliced mushrooms 

3 c sliced Japanese eggplant 

4 c broccoli florets 

2 c roughly chopped baby bok choy 

16 oz fresh noodles 

Salt & pepper 

1/2-3/4c water 

1/4c soy sauce 

2 TB maple syrup 

1 TB sesame oil 

Sesame seeds 
In a large wok or skillet, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the garlic, and sauté 1-2 minutes. Do not let it brown! Add in the mushrooms and sauté 3-4 minutes or until starting to brown on the edges. Add in the eggplant and stir. If the mixture starts to look dry, add in a drizzle of water. When eggplant is tender, add in noodles, broccoli, some of the reserved water, maple syrup, soy sauce and sesame oil. Raise the flame and toss the noodles in the sauce to coat. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until sauce thickens and coats noodles. Turn off the flame and stir in bok choy. Season with salt and pepper if needed. 

Garnish with sesame seeds and serve.