This recipe first appeared in the Jan. 27, 2014 edition of “From Tali’s Kitchen,” my cooking column in Binah magazine.
In the alternate universe called Facebook, I’ve been reading about people’s glamorous meal plans for before and after Yom Kippur. And I don’t get it. First, I don’t understand how anyone can eat a huge fancy meal before the fast. Don’t they feel bloated? Isn’t that, like, the hardest way to go into Kol Nidrei? And second, I don’t understand how anyone can eat a huge fancy meal after the fast. Isn’t it a shock to their systems? Don’t they feel heavy and kind of sick afterwards?
If I’m way off here and the big meals are working out just fine in your house, that’s great and please forget everything I said. But over here, we keep it pretty low-key. My plan for before the fast is lentils and rice; motsei Yom Kippur we’ll have leftovers and muffins. If the idea of a satisfying, healthy soup sounds good to you, definitely give my mushroom lentil soup a try. Mushrooms are a fantastic accessory to lentils, and little extras like thyme and balsamic vinegar go a long way.
Gmar chatima tova, and have an easy fast!
- One year ago: Cookbook review of Soup: A Kosher Collection (one of my most-used cookbooks!)
- Two years ago: Mango couscous salad
- Three years ago: Classic chummus
Yield: 12 servings
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 large onions, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 (8 oz) cartons mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 4 medium carrots, diced
- 2 cups brown lentils
- ¾ cup red lentils
- 2 tsp salt
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 13 cups water
- ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1. In a large soup pot, heat the oil and sauté the onions and garlic over low heat for 10 minutes.
2. Add the mushrooms and thyme. Continue cooking over low heat for another 5 minutes. Mix in the balsamic vinegar.
3. Add the carrots, brown and red lentils, salt, tomato paste, and water. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 1 hour. Stir in the parsley and serve.
After last year’s copious leftovers, I was determined to scale things back. And I did, and the amount of leftovers sitting in the fridge right now is definitely more reasonable. But simplifying the menu did not fix the problem I always seem to have: the hectic rush on erev yom tov. I cooked ahead and froze 7 of the dishes on my menu; the other 7 plus simanim were made on Tuesday and Wednesday (i.e. two days before RH and erev chag). Maybe next year I need to do something more along the lines of 2/3 freezer and 1/3 fresh.
Here are some other take-aways from my RH cooking:
Expect last-minute menu changes
I was planning a double batch of lemon chummus as a special treat — I looooove the stuff but don’t make it often because it uses a lot of olive oil ($$). But when all the lemons in Rami Levi were green, which I figured would not make for nice zest, I switched to butternut squash chummus. It was fantastic and a huge hit with the under-2 crowd. I used this recipe (the spices really settle in the fridge, so it’s best to make it a day ahead).
Defrosting slash not
The best thing about freezing food for a long yom tov is that you can defrost it if you need it and leave it right where it is if you don’t. There were three loaves of challah that I never took out of the freezer and will be perfectly good on Succos. I also didn’t use the soup I’d made for Friday night since we were totally content to eat leftovers from the previous meals instead.
Note to self: Little rolls needed
Related to not using all of my challahs is the fact that it would have come in handy to have small rolls for hamotzi. For the last two meals, we had enough sliced challah left from other meals that it would have been better to use small rolls for hamotzi than to slice into more full-sized ones. Having a reason to make French toast is never a bad thing, but I’m definitely going to make some little rolls for Succos.
Always take guests up on their offers to bring something!
In the past, I either asked guests to bring something minor or just said “no thanks” when people asked what they could contribute to a meal. Sigh … silly Tali. This Rosh Hashanah, our guests brought dessert (and I didn’t make any “side desserts” or whatever to go with them). Worked out wonderfully — something real was taken off my to-do list, both times the guests brought really nice desserts, and we got to enjoy other people’s cooking without leaving the house.
Going out for a meal? Bring bark.
We went out for Shabbos lunch and brought chocolate pomegranate bark, which was a big hit with both the adults and kids. I loved it because it’s an easy, crowd-pleasing, no-bake dessert that was simple to make pareve (98% dairy kitchen over here). On the flip side, if you’re going to a dairy meal and don’t have a dairy oven, you might love this because it’s simple to make dairy. See? Something for everyone!
And with that, I think it’s time to figure out Succos.
Come back soon! I’ve got a healthy, hearty, feel-good soup for your Yom Kippur break-fast.
Okay, everyone. Three more days to Rosh Hashanah! Freezer filled? Good for you. Haven’t started cooking? It’s alright, your family will forgive you (or at least they really should, with Yom Kippur coming up). Anyway, it’s pretty much crunch time so I figured we should chomp down on some bark together.
In the course of my strenuous research on chocolate bark, I learned that there are generally two types. The first method involves mixing some things into the chocolate, and the second has you only sprinkle those things on top of the chocolate. Neither kind really satisfies me. With the first, you have the mix-ins nicely distributed, but the overall effect isn’t as pretty, and with the second, the bark is really pretty but it ends up feeling like some stuff sprinkled on chocolate instead of an actual recipe.
My take is a combination of the two, and I think I got the best of both worlds. The chocolate is mixed with crispy rice cereal (totally feels like a Krackel bar!) and then topped with sweet, tart pomegranate arils and candied ginger for an elegant punch of flavor. The result is an easy and gorgeous Rosh Hashanah dessert that you can throw together in minutes. Who’s in?
And that’s it from me until after Rosh Hashanah! In the last month, we’ve done sweet challah topping, cabbage salad and tomato salad, two soups, a grain side dish, and an awesome dairy kugel. I hope those recipes have helped with your prep for the chag. For more cooking inspiration, check out my roundup of 30 dishes to freeze for Rosh Hashanah and my family’s yom tov menu plan.
K’tiva v’chatima tova to all of my readers! Wishing you a year of only good things (and I’m thinking of so many of you individually as I say that). Be back soon with recipes for pre/post Yom Kippur and Succos!
- One year ago: Best chewy chocolate chip cookies
- Two years ago: Quinoa with mushrooms and pan-fried tofu
- Three years ago: Lentil vegetable medley (one of my simplest go-to dinners)
Yield: About 6 servings
- 500 grams white chocolate, a brand you love
- 3 Tbsp canola oil
- ½ pomegranate, seeded
- Heaping ¼ cup finely chopped candied ginger (about 75 grams)
- 1¼ cups crispy rice cereal
* Only use good chocolate! “Good” is defined as a chocolate bar that you want to bite into. Don’t try melting white chocolate chips. Trust me.
* Half a pomegranate is annoying, right? You can either double the recipe and get twice as much bark, use the rest of the seeds in a salad or a baked good like these blondies, or just freeze them (directions at the end of this post).
1. Line a 9″ x 13″ (23 cm x 33 cm) baking tray with parchment paper. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and oil together. Make sure the top of your double boiler is big enough for mixing the cereal into the chocolate.
2. Speaking of which, when the chocolate is melted, turn off the heat and stir the cereal into it. Try to distribute it evenly. (I like a silicone spatula best for this.)
3. Working quickly, scoop the chocolate mixture onto the prepared baking tray and spread it out evenly. Sprinkle the pomegranate arils and candied ginger over the top. Press down gently and carefully to help them stay in place (but don’t touch the chocolate!). Refrigerate until firm.
4. You can totally just break the whole thing into pieces by hand, but I like to cut diagonally in one direction and then straight down in the other direction. I end up with lots of diamond-shaped pieces and a bunch of randomly shaped pieces. But that’s bark for you. Gotta love it.
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