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.
Strawberry Salad with Goat Cheese Croutons
- 2 cups of strawberries cut in half, stemmed
- 4 ounces of goat cheese
- 1/3 cup of bread crumbs (use Panko, if available)
- 2 T. fresh flat leaf parsley-chopped finely
- 1 T. fresh thyme-chopped finely
- Flour for dipping the cheese
- 1 egg-beaten
- 4 cups baby greens such as Mesclun variety
- 1 red onion, sliced very thinly
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)
- Salt and pepper
Cut the goat cheese into coin shapes (about 1 ounce each coin). Place the coins in the freezer for about 30 minutes until firm and easy to handle.
Mix the herbs and the breadcrumbs together on a small plate. Salt and pepper as needed. Place the flour on a small plate.
Place a medium saute pan over medium heat. Lightly coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil.
Dredge a cheese coin in the flour. Then dip it into the beaten egg. And finally dip the cheese into the bread crumbs. Place the cheese in the saute pan and brown it on each side (about 3 minutes per side). Remove the cheese to a paper towel lined plate. Continue with remaining cheese.
Place the strawberries on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the strawberries with honey and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. Roast the strawberries for about 10 minutes until they are lightly caramelized and very fragrant.
Toss the greens with Extra Virgin olive oil and salt and pepper as needed.
Mound the greens on four plates or a serving platter. Place the strawberries and red onion on the greens. Place the cheese croutons on top of the salad and drizzle with honey lavender vinaigrette.
Wild Alaskan Salmon
- 4 6-ounce Wild salmon filets, skin off
- 1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Pat dry the salmon filets. Combine the fresh herbs in a bowl. Press the herbs on to the “presentation “side of the salmon (non-skin side). Salt and pepper the fish on both sides.
Place a large saute pan over medium high heat. Lightly coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Place the salmon filets, presentation side down, in the pan. Here is the hard part-Don’t touch the fish for at least 3-5 minutes until the fish has browned and is not sticking to the pan. If it sticks, it has not browned enough. The browned fish will be crispy and firm and will loosen itself from the pan.
Turn the fish over and turn off the heat. Cover the pan and the fish will continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Your fish will be perfect medium rare. If you want it well done (I don’t recommend it) keep the heat on a bit longer and cook the fish until it is firm when lightly squeezed on the sides of the filet.
- 4 ounces unsalted butter
Place the butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Cook the butter until it has turned a medium golden brown and is very fragrant (about 10 minutes).
Drizzle the brown butter over the fish.
For the Marinade
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 jalepeno, seeded and chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh ginger, roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons peanut oil or veg oil
- 2 large mangoes, roughly chopped (note: you will need one more mango when cooking the tofu, see below)
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 cup white cooking wine (or vegetable broth)
- fresh black pepper to taste
- dash of salt
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 2 tablespoon rice vinegar (use apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar if you dont have rice)
- juice of two limes
- 1 cup orange juice
For the Tofu
- 2 blocks tofu extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
- 1 mango, sliced in long thin slices
- 1 red pepper, seeded and cut in long thin slices
Make the marinade: In a medium sauce pan, heat the oil, add garlic, ginger and jalepeno, saute on medium heat 7 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add 2 chopped mangoes and saute 5 minutes
Add pure maple syrup and wine, cover and simmer 35 minutes; Uncover and simmer 5 more minutes.
Add orange juice, vinegar, lime, black pepper, allspice and salt; Add mixture to blender, puree until smooth.
Prepare the tofu. Cut tofu blocks into 8 slabs each. Place tofu in marinade in a sealable plastic bag or tupperware. Marinate in the fridge for an hour and up to overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 – Reserve about half of the marinate. Lay marinated tofu in a single layer in baking pan. Cook for 20 minutes. Flip tofu over and add more marinade. Dredge peppers and sliced mangos in marinade and add them to pan. Cook another 15 minutes.
Heat up remaining marinade in a sauce pan and put in a bowl on the table (or floor, where ever you’re eating) so guests (or room mates, or who ever is eating) can pour it over the tofu. Serve over jasmine rice, with a steamed vegetable, such as aspararus or broccoli.
English Pea Risotto
- 2 cups shelled English peas
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Olive oil
- 2 cups vegetable stock or water
- 1 Shallot, peeled and chopped finely
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- ½ cup white wine
- ½ cup heavy cream for the risotto
- ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
- 1 teaspoon chopped mint
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Cook the English peas until they are cooked through (about 8 minutes). Place the cooked peas in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process and keep the peas green.
Drain the peas and place in a medium mixing bowl. Puree the peas in a blender of with an immersion blender with the heavy cream Salt and pepper to taste.
Place a medium sauce pan over medium high heat and bring the vegetable stock to a simmer.
Place a medium saute pan over medium heat. Lightly coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Add the shallot and sweat for several minutes until the shallot is very soft but not browned. Add the Arborio rice and stir until each grain of rice is coated with the olive oil. Add the white wine.
Increase the heat and allow the wine to simmer for several minutes. Add the hot stock or water into the rice by ladle-fuls. Stir with each addition of stock before adding another. Continue until the liquid is completely added to the rice and the rice is soft and creamy but remains al dente.
Stir in the remaining heavy cream. Remove from the heat and stir in the pea puree. Adjust seasoning and sprinkle with herbs and Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 4 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
- 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 2 extra-large eggs
- 2/3 cup purchased lemon curd
Preheat oven to 425°F. Spray eight 3/4-cup ramekins or custard cups with nonstick spray. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, lemon juice, and lemon peel in large bowl until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute.
Add cream cheese and ricotta cheese; beat until smooth, about 1 minute (some small curds from ricotta may remain). Add eggs; beat until well blended.
Divide batter among prepared ramekins. Place ramekins on rimmed baking sheet. Bake until puffed, just set in center, and pale golden on top, about 18 minutes. Chill until cold, about 2 hours.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.
Spread lemon curd over chilled cheesecakes and serve.
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!)