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The Foods of Shavuot

27/05/2020 10:52:55 AM


Joel Troster


When we think of Shavuot, visions of cheese blintzes come to mind. When or why the custom of eating dairy foods arose is unknown; here are two explanations. In Song of Songs, the verse, “The sweetness drops from your lips; like honey and milk it lies under your tongue.” is said to describe the study of Torah. The Promised Land, Israel, is called a land of “milk and honey.” For those interested in gematria, the numeric value assigned to Hebrew letters, the gematria, of gevina (cheese) is 70, corresponding to the "70 faces of Torah."

Why are unripened cheese like cottage, cream, and feta cheese used in dishes? Perhaps their use is related to a belief that they are more quickly digested than hard cheeses like cheddar.  This allows Jews observing traditional practice to have a dairy meal or snack with milk and soft cheese and bread or cake that is followed at least one hour later with a festive meal of fish or meat. The practice commemorates the Temple offering on Shavuot of two loaves made with the newly harvested wheat.

In the all night study sessions called “tikkun leil Shavuot” that frequently begin Shavuot, we welcome refreshment breaks as times for ice cream and cheese cake. Happily for those with dietary restrictions, there are many excellent plant substitutes for these delicious treats.  

The following recipes have been prepared by Shomrei Adamah members for the Kiddush of several harvest festivals.  Ingredients include locally grown and seasonal foods.  Some foods are harvested in the fall and are made available year round through canning or storage. We offer recipes that include spring produce such as asparagus, spinach, and strawberries. 

In ancient times, Shavuot marked the end of the barley harvest that started with the counting of the omer on the 2nd day of Passover and the beginning of the wheat harvest. We have included recipes for regular and the delicious 7 species challahs that Joel makes for the Kiddush of special occasions, as well as for a farro wheat salad, all for your enjoyment. 

My Jewish Learning offers a collection of Shavuot recipes at   Here are ours. 

Be’tey-avon! Bon Appetit !

Harvest  Recipes for Sukkot 


Make two loaves


  • 2 C warm water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 C Canola oil
  • 1/2 C honey
  • 3 C Red Fife flour or whole wheat flour
  • 3-4 C Unbleached hard bread flour
  • 1 C currants, or 3 Tb poppy seeds
  • 2 Tb instant yeast
  • 1 egg mixed with a little water

Put the water, salt, 4 eggs, oil, and honey into a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix until blended. Turn off the mixer and add half of the flour and the yeast. Mix until blended. Turn off the mixer, cover the bowl and let the yeast activate. After 20 minutes it should start getting bubbly.

Add the currants or poppy seeds and two more cups of flour. Run the mixer on low and add more flour as needed to get a sticky dough.

Turn off the mixer, cover the bowl, let the dough rest for 20 minutes, and then run the mixer for 2 minutes. Repeat the resting and mixing twice more.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, knead it a bit, and then put into a large oiled bowl covered with plastic. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size. This takes about about one hour. Punch down the dough, reform a ball and let it rise again for 30 minutes. Alternately put the bowl in the refrigerator, let it rise overnight. The next day, remove and let it warm up to room temperature for an hour.Divide the ball of dough into two equal sized balls. Each ball will make one challah.

Divide each smaller ball into three equal sized pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 18 inches long. Braid the ropes and place the loaf onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Repeat with the second ball.

Cover the loafs loosely with plastic. Let rise in a warm place for an hour. Fifteen minutes before the end of the hour preheat the oven to 375F. Paint the loafs with the egg and water mixture and put the loafs in the oven. Then throw a handful of ice cubes onto the bottom of the oven. This causes steam which prevents the crusts from hardening too soon, resulting in a larger bread. Bake for 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

To make the Seven Species Challah that Joel makes for the Holidays:

Replace 1 cup of wheat flour with 1 cup of barley flour

Replace the canola oil with  olive oil

Replace ¼ cup honey with ¼ cup pomegranate molasses

Use ½ cup each of currants, chopped dates, and chopped dried figs

(The soup recipes were made with the help of Grade 6 students for the Chesid Committee’s food donations to ailing members and their families.  They were a hit with both students and teachers.)

Sweet Potato, Coconut, and Ginger Soup 


  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 1 2-3 inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1 tsp Thai red curry paste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put everything into a pot. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft. This takes around 30 minutes. Run through a blender or use an immersion blender until smooth.

Sababa’s Lentil Soup

Makes 8 cups


  • 1 1/4 cups red lentils
  • 1/2 cup white rice
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp salt or to taste

Soak lentils and rice in warm water. Add onion to hot vegetable oil in a large saucepan. Add the stock and water and bring to a boil. Drain soaking lentils and rice, rinse well then add to boiling liquids with onion and boil 15 to 20 minutes. Add cumin, olive oil and salt. Serve each bowl with wedge of lemon..   

Mushroom Barley Soup

from the Gourmet Cookbook

Makes about 17 cups


  • 1 ounce dried mushrooms
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 pounds white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1/2 Cup sherry
  • 5 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 8 carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2” thick slices
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme, crumbled
  • 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled
  • salt and pepper

Soak dried mushrooms in boiling water for 20 minutes. Remove mushrooms from water, reserving the liquid, and finely slice. Heat oil in a big pot and add onions and garlic, and cook until pale golden, about 8-10 minutes. Add both kinds of mushrooms, and soy sauce, and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated. Add sherry and boil until evaporated.

Add stock, water, mushroom soaking liquid, barley, carrots, and dried herbs. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered for 1 hour.

Corn, Bean, and Pepper Salad


  • 3 cobs of fresh corn or one 14 oz. can corn niblets, drained
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 can of black beans or kidney beans
  • 1 large handful cilantro, chopped.
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Boil the corn until done. Cool and cut off the cob. Dice the peppers and onion into small the size of the corn niblets. Rinse the black beans and drain them. Mix all the vegetables together in a bowl. Whisk the lime juice, cumin, olive oil, salt, and pepper together and pour over the salad.

Kale, Chickpea, and Feta Salad


  • 1 large bunch curly kale
  • 1 can chick peas
  • 4 oz. feta cheese
  • 1 fat lemon
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 4 Tbs olive oil
  • salt, pepper

Cut the ribs out of the Kale and chop into small pieces. Place into a large bowl. Use a microplane to grate off the peel of the lemon and the garlic into a small bowl. Add the juice of the lemon, the olive oil, salt and pepper and wish them all together. Pour over the kale.

With well washed hands, massage the dressing into the kale until the kale wilts down to about half its volume. Taste for seasoning. Kale needs a lot of salt.

Drain and rinse the can of chick peas and add to the kale. Cube the feta cheese and add on top.

Farro is the grain of three species of wheat that originated in the Fertile Crescent, It has been found in the tombs of Egyptian kings and is said to have fed the Roman Legions. Emmer, t(Triticum dicoccum), is the most common variety grown in Italy and available in North America.]

Farro Salad with Tomatoes and Herbs

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis


  • 4 cups water
  • 10 ounces whole grain farro (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 pound tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 sweet onion (recommended: Walla Walla) chopped
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh chives
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves


  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Combine the water and farro in a medium saucepan. Add 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the farro is tender, about 30 minutes. Drain well, and then transfer to a large bowl to cool.

Add the tomatoes, onion, chives, and parsley to the farro, and toss to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Add the vinaigrette to the salad and toss to coat.

The salad can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.


Quinoa and Asparagus Salad with Mimosa Dressing


  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups (8 ounces) quinoa
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • Kosher or fine salt
  • 5 scallions, trimmed
  • 1 pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons mild honey
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Special equipment: A sharp vegetable peeler


Put eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then cover pan, and remove from heat. Let eggs stand, covered, 15 minutes, then drain, and transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool completely. Remove shells and finely grate eggs with a Microplane or the fine holes of box grater into a small bowl. Set aside.

Rinse quinoa well in a large fine-mesh sieve under cold running water. Set sieve over a bowl and let quinoa drain well for at least 5 minutes. Bring 2 1/2 cups water to a boil with 1/2 teaspoon salt (kosher or fine) in a 3-quart saucepan. Add quinoa and simmer, covered, until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender, 16 to 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let quinoa stand, covered, 5 minutes. Spoon quinoa onto a large rimmed baking sheet, spreading it in a single layer, and let it cool to room temperature.

Cut scallions into 2-inch pieces. Halve each piece lengthwise, then slice lengthwise into thin strips (julienne). Transfer to a large bowl. Using vegetable peeler, peel lengthwise strips from asparagus, beginning at bottom end, and add to scallion. Once you can't peel any more slices from a stalk, break off the thick end (reserving it for another use, such as soup) and add the remaining thin strip to bowl with scallions.

Whisk together lemon juice with honey and 3/4 teaspoon kosher (1/2 teaspoon fine) salt until smooth. Add oil in a steady stream, whisking until combined. Taste and adjust seasoning, if desired, then whisk in grated eggs. Transfer quinoa to another large bowl and toss with herbs and 1/2 cup vinaigrette, or to taste. Toss asparagus with 3 tablespoons vinaigrette and salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon quinoa onto salad plates, and top with a tangle of asparagus and scallion. Serve remaining vinaigrette on the side, or save, chilled, for another salad.

Salmon Trout with Chermoula Sauce

  • One side of salmon trout or salmon

Chermoula Sauce

  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp chili pepper
  • 6 Tbs olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon


Place all the sauce ingredients into a food processor and run until it forms a smooth sauce.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Make cuts into the fish just down to the skin to divide it into serving pieces. Rub several spoons of chermoula sauce onto the fish and into the cuts. Bake about 20 minutes until done. Serve with the remaining sauce on the side. If the sauce is too thick, it can be thinned with more olive oil.

Leek and Swiss Chard Tart


  • 1 prepared deep dish pie crust
  • 1 medium leek ,white and pale green parts only, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed, leaves chopped
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 1/4 C whole milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • pinch of ground nutmeg

For the crust I used Loblaw’s No Name deep dish pie crust as they are COR kosher.

Pre-heat the oven to 425F. Heat the butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and thyme. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the leeks are very tender but not brown, about 10 minutes. Add the chard and sauté until wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Press out any excess liquid and spread into the pie crust.

Whisk the milk, eggs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg together. Pour into the crust.

Bake tart at 425F for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350F and bake until the filling is puffed and just set in the centre, about 15-20 minutes longer.

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Stew

Recipe from The Downsview Advocate, Issue #5, Number 2, February 2018

Donated by Michael Winberg


  • 2 cups dried chickpeas
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil                                              
  • 1 large onion (chopped)                     
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)                    
  • 1 carrot (thinly sliced)                       
  • 1 celery stick (thinly sliced)                                      
  • 1 green pepper (seeded and cubed)   
  • 28 oz whole tomatoes whole tomatoes
  • 1 jalapeno pepper (chopped)             
  • 2 cups sweet potato (cubed)
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • ½ cup of raisins
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

 Soak chickpeas overnight in 6 cups of water. Boil chickpeas in fresh, lightly-salted water for 1 to 1½ h.

In a large, deep saucepan heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, green pepper, jalapeno pepper and sweet potato for ten minutes, until the sweet potato begins to soften

Stir in raisins, cinnamon, paprika, cumin and turmeric.  Cook 1 min longer.

Add tomatoes, chicken stock and chickpeas Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 min or until vegetables are tender.

Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve stew over plain basmati rice, and enjoy! 




Sun, 29 January 2023 7 Sh'vat 5783