Ahhhh…Shavuot. The Jewish holiday that commemorates when Jews received the Torah on Mt. Sinai. The holiday that celebrates the first fruits of the season. And the (only?) Jewish holiday where vegetarians don’t feel marginalized by a table crammed with meat-heavy dishes.
Shavuot also coincides with the annual wheat harvest in Israel, and in the days of the Temple, ancient Jews would bring their first fruits as sacrifices to God. In this time of bounty we are encouraged to give of ourselves and reflect on the gifts that the earth provides.
Resources for All-Night Study
Since we are celebrating the revelation of the Torah at Sinai, Shavuot is a great time to dive into some Jewish study. People will often study until the wee hours of the morning at a Tikkun Leil Shavuot. Food for Thought, Hazon’s Sourcebook on Jews, Food, and Contemporary Life had lots of great texts that can spark the conversation.
We have created a special three-page Food for Thought Excerpt that you can print and use at your own Tikkun or Shavuot table.
Also check out this handout created specifically for families, with a recipe and family discussion questions.
Kale and Mushroom Quinoa Mac and Cheese
This recipe originally from The Jew and the Carrot
Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 15-20 minutes Serves: 6-8
- 4 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
- 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 4 Tablespoons butter, plus more to butter the pan
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cups white mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cups milk (2% or whole milk)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 10 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (about 3½ cups)
- 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 3 cups kale, cut into 1-inch chunks
- ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cook quinoa according to package.
In a bowl, mix together all-purpose flour, dry mustard and nutmeg.
In a large 8 qt stockpot, melt butter over medium heat. Sauté diced onions and sliced mushrooms with a pinch of salt until the onions are translucent, mushrooms are soft, and both are cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
Add flour mixture to the onions and mushrooms and cook for a few minutes until the fat is absorbed. The vegetables should be covered in a flour and butter thick paste.
Then add in the two cups milk and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until sauce is think and smooth.
Then add in black pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese (reserve ½ cup for the topping) and Parmesan cheese and combine. Season to taste with salt.
Stir in kale and quinoa and stir until mixed well.
Spread quinoa mixture into a casserole dish (I used a 9 inch pie pan, individual serving dishes work great too).
In a separate bowl, combine Panko breadcrumbs and 2 Tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle remaining cheddar cheese over the quinoa and top that with Panko mixture.
Bake for 15-20 minutes (uncovered) until cheese is bubbly and the top is lightly browned. Let cool 5 minutes and serve!
This recipe originally from The Jew and the Carrot
Makes 6 servings.
- 1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup maple syrup
pinch sea salt
1 tablespoon agar agar flakes, soaked for 10-15 minutes in 3/4 cup cold water
1 3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 scraped vanilla bean
If using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the bean into the cream and add the bean pod. Cover, and let infuse for 30 minutes. Remove the bean then continue.
In a small saucepan, combine the cream or coconut milk, maple syrup, and salt. Simmer on low for about 5-7 minutes and set aside.
In a separate small saucepan, bring the soaked agar/water mixture to a boil. Lower heat, stirring frequently, and simmer uncovered until the agar is completely dissolved. Use the back of a spoon to determine if you see any small flakes. If you do, keep simmering. This should take about 15-20 minutes. Combine with cream mixture and simmer for another 3-5 minutes.
Remove from heat and add buttermilk and the vanilla extract (if you are not using a vanilla bean) to the cream/agar mixture.
Lightly oil six 4oz ramekins with a neutral oil, such as canola. You can also forego the ramekins and use a wine or martini glass, or an espresso cup, but if you are going to serve it in that glass, no need to oil.
Ladle Panna Cotta mixture into the ramekins and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and preferably longer. These will keep well for a few days in the refrigerator.
When you are ready to serve, run a sharp knife around the edge of each ramekin and flip onto a plate. A few taps of the bottom of the ramekin should work to unmold the finished panna cotta, which should be eaten cold. Garnish as desired–fresh fruit and chocolate sauce would be especially delicious.
Walters Ricotta Blueberry Pancakes
This recipe originally from The Jew and the Carrot. Adapted from The Joy of Cooking.
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups milk, plus more for thinning
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
- 3 eggs, separated
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 pound ricotta
- 1 box rinsed and dried dried blueberries
Mix all of the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder and salt) in a large bowl with a whisk. Set aside.
Combine milk, butter, egg yolks, vanilla and ricotta in another bowl and mix together with a whisk or fork, until the mixture has become a nice, thick and even liquid with no lumps.
Make a well in the dry ingredients bowl and pour in the wet ingredients, whisk together. If the mix looks too thick for your taste, add more milk gradually. (I usually add another quarter to half of a cup, as I like my pancakes fairly thin.)
Using a mixer, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks.
Mix a small dollops of the egg whites into the batter. Once combined, begin folding in the remainder of the egg whites, very gently, to keep the batter light. Repeat until all of the egg whites are folded in.
Heat a cast iron skillet (if you have) with butter, once the pan is hot, scoop in a quarter to a third of a cup of batter and turn the heat down to medium-high. Sprinkle blue berries on top of pancakes as they cook.
When medium sized bubbles form in the pancakes, flip them and cook for another minute or so.
When done, drizzle with maple syrup and eat standing up — or at the table, if you can wait that long.
Spinach and Feta Bourekas
This recipe originally from The Jew and the Carrot
Yield: 6 bourekas
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 7 ounces fresh spinach leaves
- Salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 egg, separated
- 3 ounces crumbled feta
- 12 ounces frozen puff pastry, defrosted
- Za’atar (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until just softened (be careful not to burn the garlic). Add the spinach and cook, stirring often, until fully wilted, about 3 minutes.
Remove from the heat. Season lightly with salt and pepper and vigorously stir in the lemon juice and egg yolk (reserve the egg white for later). Transfer the mixture to a bowl and allow to cool.
Once the spinach is cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much liquid as possible and roughly chop. (I realize that it seems counter-intuitive to put liquid in then squeeze it out, but after countless test runs this process led to the best results.) Return spinach to the bowl and thoroughly mix in the feta.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll out the puff pastry to a rectangle about 1/8-inch thick and 12- by 18-inches. Cut into 6 even 5- to 6-inch squares. Put a spoonful of the spinach-feta mixture into the center of each puff pastry square. Fold the puff pastry over to form a triangle. Press down with a fork along the edges to tightly seal.
Transfer the turnovers to the prepared baking sheet. Brush with the reserved egg white and sprinkle with za’atar, if using. Put in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving. Spinach-feta turnovers are excellent warm or at room temperature, and can also be made ahead and frozen.
To freeze, lay flat on a baking tray and put in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer to freezer bags. To re-heat, simply bake in a pre-heated oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until warmed through.
Traditionally, Shavuot is a dairy-laden holiday, with cheesecake and blintzes and burekas up the wazoo.
Don’t Do Dairy?
Believe it or not, there are still ways to be festive on Shavuot and enjoy your delectable dishes, even if you do not eat dairy products! Try making vegan whipped cream (Vanilla, Chocolate, Coffee, Mocha..yum!) to put on any dessert! You can also try adding dairy free peach pudding or dairy free sorbet to your dessert menu!
Eat Dairy Responsibly! If you are looking to dive into the kitchen, head over to our Healthy and Sustainable Shavuot Menu with recipes and resources to bring delicious local seasonal treats bursting with spring flavor to your dairy-based feast.
Spotlight On: Adamah Dairy
Our friends at Adamah have built a thriving dairy operation based on Jewish and sustainable food values. Check out these articles and podcasts on their amazing work:
New Kids on the Block
Milking it With Hazon
What can Shavuot teach us about the connections between Jewish tradition and agriculture? This text presents one farmer’s take on seeing Jewish rituals as they connect to the cycles of planting, harvest, and eating, which is useful to think about when considering Shavuot and Farming.
Learn more about the raw milk debate
In this blog post, the author explores the issues around raw milk production and tastes the difference.
Learn About Shavuot
Shavuot, the “Feast of Weeks,” is celebrated seven weeks after Pesach (Passover). Since the counting of this period (sefirat ha-omer) begins on the second evening of Pesach, Shavuot takes place exactly 50 days after the (first) seder. Although its origins are to be found in an ancient grain harvest festival, Shavuot has been identified since biblical times with the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.
The Dairy Connection
Although everyone agrees that the food of choice for Shavuot is cheese (most typically blintzes, crepe-like pancakes filled with farmer cheese, or a Sephardic [Mediterranean Jewish]equivalent such as burekas, cheese-filled dough pockets), there are differences of opinion (some quite charming) as to why it is a custom.
In ancient times, the challah eaten on Shavuot was the first taste of the new year’s wheat. During the counting of the Omer, first barley, and then wheat, were counted in anticipation of the Shavuot festival. When the other first fruits were offered in Jerusalem, two large challot were made of the first fruits of the wheat plant -. Like the first wheat plants, the Challot were also big, fluffy and delicious!
Suggestions from Fair Trade Judaica:
- Use fair trade flowers to decorate your home and synagogue
- Drink fair trade coffee for Tikkun Leil Shavuot (all night study!)
More Jew & the Carrot Articles Relating to Sukkot