Roasted Cauliflower and Sweet Potato with Figs and Tahini


title fig 650_horizontalI absolutely love Rosh Hashanah and all things High Holiday season. I love fall weather, and I love the changing leaves and a bit of crisp in the air (though having lived in Miami and then Los Angeles for the last five years, I do miss the actual crisp in the air). Rosh Hashanah has been my favorite holiday ever since I was a little kid growing up in Atlanta. But it wasn’t until I learned how to really cook that Rosh Hashanah cemented itself in my heart as a culinary holiday. As I learn more and more about the holidays, I gain a better understanding of just how connected Jewish holidays are to the earth, the season and the harvest for that season. The recipe in this post is a testament to my commitment to honor the fruits and vegetables of the season. Roasted cauliflower and sweet potato is one of my go-to recipes for a quick, healthy and flavorful side dish on any Shabbat dinner table. But I wanted to jazz things up a bit, so I added some roasted garlic and perfectly ripe figs to balance the saltiness of the tahini. Whether you’re hosting a bunch of family this holiday season or feasting alone, do yourself a favor and try this dish. It’s great as a hot side or as a topping on a salad the next day. Enjoy!

Roasted Cauliflower and Sweet Potato with Figs and Tahini


  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1½-inch pieces
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 5 cloves garlic, skins removed
  • 4 Tbsp. plus ½ Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • ½ cup tahini paste
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3-4 Tbsp. hot water
  • 5-6 figs, cut in half length-wise
  • Fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, optional



1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.fig_roasted

2. Spread the cauliflower florets and sweet potato in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and turmeric. Using a spatula, mix the cauliflower and sweet potato to spread the oil and spices around.

3. Place garlic cloves and remaining olive oil on a small piece of aluminum foil. Wrap garlic and oil in the foil so no oil can escape. Place foil in the corner of the baking sheet holding the veggies.

4. Place baking sheet in the oven and bake roughly 40 minutes, or until cauliflower and sweet potato are crispy on the edges.

5. Meanwhile, prepare the tahini by adding the tahini paste, lemon, kosher salt and garlic
powder to a deep bowl. Mix until combined. Add the water a tablespoon at a time, stirring in between until the desired consistency is met. Taste as you go and adjust the seasoning to your liking. I like mine pretty runny, so I may add another tablespoon or more of hot water.

6. Once vegetables are done, let cool for 5 minutes (make sure to open the foil of garlic and let it cool as well). Place all veggies and sliced figs on a serving dish and drizzle with tahini. Serve with an additional topping of cilantro or parsley, if desired.


fig 7 edited 650

Summer Blueberry Salad with Blueberry Ranch


Summer Blueberry Salad with Blueberry Ranch

My last salad took us all the way to Israel, but this summer salad with a twist takes us to the American Midwest and the birthplace of ranch salad dressing. Nebraska is where America’s favorite dressing made its début. Meanwhile in the Northeast, this time of year, Maine is overflowing with blueberries. This salad features blueberries as a sweet burst in the salad mix itself and a purée of blueberries in the ranch dressing.

Summer Blueberry Salad with Blueberry Ranch

Ingredients:Blueberry ranch dressing

Blueberry Ranch Dressing

  • 1/4 cup of mayo
  • 1/4 cup of sour cream
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/4 cup of blueberries (buy a pint because you’ll use more in the salad)
  • 2 tsp. of dried dill
  • 10 chives minced
  • 1/4 cup of minced parsley, about 1/2 a bunch of flat leaf parsley
  • up to 1/4 cup of milk
  • salt
  • pepper


Summer Blueberry Salad

  • 5 oz. of greens (1/2 arugula and 1/2 baby spinach or baby kale or other greens)
  • 1 1/4 cups of walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 of a red onion thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pint of blueberries



1. Wash your pint of blueberries. In a small pot add 1/4 cup of blueberries. Put the lid on the pot and cook on low until the juices begin to bubble a little. Squash the blueberries with a fork as they are cooking. Let the blueberries cook for 5-10 minutes over low heat. Put the purée into a small bowl and let it cool. Chill in the refrigerator while you continue preparing the salad.

2. Wash the greens and add them to a serving bowl.

3. In a dry pan over medium heat, toast 1 1/4 cups of walnuts. Once the walnuts become fragrant you will need to watch them closely so they do not burn. Shake the pan to move and turn the walnuts a little. Set the nuts aside to cool.

4. Peel and thinly slice 1/4 of the red onion.

5. Add about 1/2 pint of the fresh blueberries to the greens.

6. Once the blueberry purée has cooled, you can continue making the blueberry ranch dressing.

7. Wash and dry 10 chives and about 1/2 a bunch of parsley. Mince the chives and parsley. You should have about 1/4 cup of minced parsley.

8. In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup of mayonnaise and 1/4 cup of sour cream. Add in 1 clove of minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper: 1/2 tsp of each or to taste. Mix together until smooth and uniform.

9. Add in the chives, the dried dill and minced parsley. Then, stir in the chilled puréed blueberries.

10. Stir in up to 1/4 cup of milk until you have the desired consistency. One quarter cup will make a fairly thin ranch dressing. If you like a thicker dressing, add less.

11. In the serving bowl, add 1/2 pint of the fresh blueberries, the sliced red onion and the cooled toasted walnuts. Drizzle with the blueberry ranch salad dressing and serve.

Blueberries, walnuts and red onion make a perfect contrast with the greens in this salad.  The creamy ranch dressing brings it all together.

Roasted, Toasted & Fried: A Hanukkah Salad



Let’s face it, the star of any Hanukkah meal is always the latkes. Those crispy, fried, salted potato pancakes could be turned out all night and the plate would always be polished off within minutes.

Whether you dollop apple sauce or slather sour cream on top, latkes don’t quite make a full meal. (For the perfect latke recipe, click here.) This hearty salad is a perfect way to round it out. It can easily be prepped while the latkes are frying or earlier in the day. If your crew is especially hungry, start off with a bowl of matzah ball soup.

Almost every culture has a way of using up stale bread, from Italian panzanellas to Lebanese fatoush salads, from crisped bits of bread at the bottom of a French onion soup to croutons on a garden salad. Inspired by mandel/Shkedei marak, which are mini crackers that Israelis (and Jewish Americans) like to pour in their soup, this fall salad has sweet potato mandel. Mandel are used like New England’s oyster crackers, but they are much smaller in size.


Hanukkah Salad with Delicata Squash & Baby Spinach

This salad serves four people as a main dish to be served with latkes. It can serve 6-8 as a side salad.


  • 1 5oz container of pre-washed baby spinach
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 delicata squash
  • 12 medium Brussels sprouts
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme (8-9 sprigs)
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • 1/4 tsp. Sriracha
  • 1/2 tsp. of honey
  • 1 shallot
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup of light cream or half & half
  • Kosher salt & sea salt (for the blanching water)
  • pepper
  • 1/2 cup of walnuts, pistachios or pine nuts (optional)



The beauty of delicata squash is that it does not have to be peeled. The skin is tender and when it is roasted it is just perfect for a hearty addition to a salad.


1.  Preheat a toaster oven or oven to 425° F. Put a medium sized pot of water on the stove to boil. Salt the water well (3-5 tsp. of sea salt or Kosher salt). Fill a medium-sized bowl with ice water leaving room for the Brussels sprouts when they come out of the blanching pot.blanching Brussels sprouts Brussels sprouts

2.  While the water is boiling, prep your Brussels sprouts. Remove a few of the outer leaves of the Brussels Sprouts until you get to the clean, fresh leaf. Cut large ones in half and smaller ones can be left whole. Do not remove the stem or core yet.

3.  Put the clean Brussels sprouts into the boiling, salted water for 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the Brussels sprouts and plunge them into the ice water. Keep the blanching water for later. Cut larger Brussels sprouts in half. Remove the bottom stem from the tiny ones and you can core the larger sprouts by cutting a small ‘v’ in the bottom just above the stem.

Clean your squash for Hanukkah salad

Keep the seeds to be roasted. They make a delicious garnish for the salad and with a honey Sriracha glaze add a nice sweet and spicy crunch as well.

4.  Wash and slice the delicata squash, skin and all, and carefully remove the seeds and pulp. Keep the seeds in a bowl to be roasted.

Slice your delicata squash

Roast your vegetables

5.  On a foil-lined tray, drizzle 1/2 Tbsp. of olive oil. Place the slices of squash and the Brussels sprouts on the tray. Drizzle the other 1/2 Tbsp. of olive oil on top and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp of Kosher salt, three sprigs of thyme and 1/2 tsp. of pepper. Roast for 25 minutes.

6.  While the squash is roasting, peel the sweet potato and cut it into pea-sized cubes. Place the cubes into a bowl of water. Bring the blanching water back to a boil and prepare another bowl of ice water. Blanch the sweet potato cubes for 2 minutes and then submerge in ice water. With a slotted spoon remove the sweet potato cubes from the ice water and let them dry on a dish towel.


Diced sweet potato

The sweet potato cubes dry out before they get fried into little crouton-like mandel.

Thyme, onion & lemon7.  Prepare your salad dressing. Mince 1 shallot and place in a jar. Add 1 Tbsp. of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. of Kosher salt, 1/2 cup of light cream and the leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme. Shake the jar and place it in the fridge until the rest of the salad is assembled.

8.  Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven and let them come to room temperature. Leave the oven on. Then, add canola oil to a large frying pan over medium high heat. Once a drop of water dances on top of the oil, it is ready. Carefully pour in the dried sweet potato cubes and let them brown on all sides, 10-15 minutes. With a slotted spoon remove the sweet potato mandel and sprinkle them with salt.

9.  Wash and dry the delicata squash seeds. In the hot sweet potato oil, add the leaves from 3 more sprigs of thyme. (Be careful: They will splatter a little.) Toss in the dry squash seeds and stir. Roast the seeds on a tray in the oven for 5-8 minutes until golden. In a small bowl, mix the Sriracha and honey. Toss the seeds in the honey/Sriracha mix and then return to the tray to roast for 2-3 more minutes. Watch these as they can burn quickly.

10.  In a bowl, add your spinach and top with the sweet potato mandel, roasted squash and Brussels sprouts. If you would like to add nuts, you can toast them in a dry pan and then sprinkle them over the salad once cooled. With the carrot on a cutting board with a lot of pressure on the peeler, peel strips of carrot and sprinkle them over the salad. Top with the roasted squash seeds and serve with the creamy lemon thyme dressing.

Happy Hanukkah!


The Knish of Plenty: A Thanksgiving (Leftovers) Knish


Thanksgiving feast in a knish.

Thanksgiving is a North American tradition that falls just at the end of the great harvest before the soil freezes and goes dormant for the winter. It is a meal that tells tales of the Native Americans who owned the soil and the Puritan immigrants who were looking for new soil from which to harvest meals and on which to live more freely. While each family has their own must haves on the table and Thanksgiving traditions (Football or Charlie Brown on TV), one thing that holds true for just about every family is that there will be leftovers.

If you look for some history on the knish, most routes point to Brooklyn, NY, but their heritage goes all the back to “the old country” in Poland. Traditionally a knish is filled with potatoes mashed with onions and schmaltz (rendered chicken fat). There are also kasha knishes (buckwheat), and the sweet cheese knish. My knish takes your Thanksgiving leftovers and puts them in a wonderful little package that can be enjoyed right away or frozen to nosh (snack) on later when you’re craving a little taste of Thanksgiving.

Note: This recipe uses a dairy free stuffing in order to keep the recipe Kosher. The gravy is also dairy free and is thickened with the schmaltz from the turkey gravy: When you separate the fat from the gravy, chill it and use it to make your flour slurry to thicken the gravy. 

Thanksgiving Knishes
(makes 24 full size knishes)


  • 4 cups of leftover stuffing
  • 3 cups of cubed leftover turkey
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp. pepper
  • salt for finishing (I like to use Maldon sea salt or a French flaky salt, but Kosher salt is OK too)
  • 1- 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
  • gravy
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups cranberry sauce
  • roasted onions, shallots, carrots, Brussels sprouts (whatever vegetables you have leftover), to get 1 cup of thinly sliced vegetables
Sage leaves waiting to be fried crisp for the knish dough and the garnish.

Sage leaves waiting to be fried crisp for the knish dough and the garnish.

Sage Warm Water Knish Dough Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of sage leaves (20-40 leaves of all sizes)
  •  1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of warm water
  • 1/2 tsp. of salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 egg and 1 Tbsp. water for an egg wash



1.  Begin by making the fried sage leaves. You will need to make sure your leaves are completely dry before starting. Have a plate with a paper towel on it nearby and a slotted spoon. Heat the 1/4 cup of olive oil and the 1/4 cup of canola oil over medium heat in a small pan with a tight fitting lid. Once the oil is hot (if you splash a drop of water on it, it dances about and sizzles), with the lid in one hand, carefully toss in 1/4 of your sage leaves and immediately place the lid on top of the pot. The leaves will sizzle furiously. Once the sizzling stops, gently give the leaves one last stir and then carefully remove them and place them on the paper towel. Repeat with the rest of the leaves in 3 more batches.

2.  Set the prettiest leaves aside as a garnish. The rest you will break into your dough.

3.  Set the sage oil aside and let it cool.

4.  In a food processor, with the steel knife, process the eggs, the 1/2 cup of cooled sage oil, and warm water for 5 seconds or until mixed.

5.  Add to the egg mixture: salt, baking powder and flour. Process with 2-3 on/off pulses. Then crumble in the sage leaves. Process everything until just blended through.

Knish dough mixture

In just a few seconds this mixture comes together into a beautiful knish dough. It is slightly sticky but easy to work with after it rests

6.  Add a small handful of flour to a bowl just to coat. Put the sticky knish dough into the bowl and let it rest for 10 minutes while you prep your fillings.

The stuffing before the additional broth is added.

You can see here how mashed the stuffing gets.  It becomes more like a soft mashed potato texture than a stuffing texture.

You can see here in the top bowl how mashed the stuffing gets. It becomes more like a soft mashed potato texture than a stuffing texture. The bottom bowl holds the knish dough as it rests.

7.  Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a baking sheet with canola oil or some sort of oil spray.

8.  Add 1/2 cup of stock and 2 tsp of pepper to your stuffing and mash it all together with a fork so you have a very soft mashed stuffing. If your stuffing is very dry you can add a little more. If you have a very soft stuffing you may need a little less.

9.  Cube your turkey. You can do a mix of dark and light meat.

10.  Add the zest of one lemon to your cranberry sauce.



Rolled out knish dough

Knish dough waiting to be filled


1.  Now it is time to assemble. Divide your dough into four sections. Each section will be divided into six balls of dough for a total of 24. Working with one section at a time, make six balls of dough. On a floured counter or cutting board, roll out one dough ball at a time as thinly as possible. The dough will almost be see-through. Make sure you have no holes. If you have a hole, ball it up and start again.

Unbaked knishes

Knishes ready for an egg wash and to be popped into the oven

2.  Take your rectangle of dough and add in a tablespoon or so each of turkey and stuffing. Add in a few slices of vegetables and a 1 tablespoon of cranberry sauce. Adjust amount of filling to fit inside the dough. After the first one, you will have a good sense of how much is too much.

3.  Carefully stretch the dough over the top of the stuffing pulling one side at a time over and layering them on top of one another. Then, flip the knish over so the seam is on the bottom and place it on the greased baking sheet. Continue with the rest of the dough. I like to bake 6 at a time, but you can do more if you like.

4.  Blend your egg with 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. Brush the knishes with the egg wash and sprinkle with a little salt. Bake the knishes for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.

To serve, garnish with a fried sage leaf, warm up some gravy and serve with a side of cranberry sauce. Enjoy your gourmet leftovers!

Thanksgiving knish ready to be enjoyed.


Farmer’s Market Pizza: Sweet & Savory


farmer's market pizzas

These farmer’s market pizzas take some of the most beautiful gems from the day’s trip to the market and highlight them for dinner. On a hot day, the pizzas can be made with just the toaster oven and on the grill to keep the house nice and cool. Zucchini is plentiful this time of year so, I took the traditional Southern Italian practice of drying zucchini and modified it to get all of the concentrated flavor without the hours of drying. The twist for these pizzas, especially the sweet one, is that they are white pizzas inspired by a classic Jewish treat: the blintz.

Farmer’s Market Pizza
Makes two small/medium savory pizzas and two small/medium sweet pizzas

carrots at the farmer's marketIngredients:

  • 2 pizza doughs from the refrigerator section of your local pizzeria or grocery store

Savory Ingredients:

  • 1 package (7 1/2 oz) of farmer’s cheese
    (You can use ricotta if you cannot find farmer’s cheese)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 6-8 Tbsp. of grated Parmesan
  • 2-3 tsp. of Canola oil
  • 2-3 medium sized zucchini (or any other delicious veggies you find)
  • Kosher salt
  • dried oregano
  • 1 TBSP of olive oil
  • black pepper


Fruit at farmer's marketSweet Ingredients:

  • 1 package (7 1/2 oz) of farmer’s cheese
    (You can use ricotta if you cannot find farmer’s cheese)
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 Tbsp. of mascarpone cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. of granulated sugar
  • 1 pint of blueberries
    (Use any other seasonal fruit that strikes your fancy
    such as cherries, raspberries, peaches or nectarines)
  • powdered sugar for serving



Savory Pizza with Dried Zucchini

Finished pizza

zucchini1.  To dry the zucchini, first wash and slice it into 1/8 inch slices. Then line a baking pan with parchment paper. Sprinkle some Kosher salt over the paper and lay the zucchini over the salt. Sprinkle the top of the zucchini with salt as well. Let the zucchini rest in the salt for at least 30 minutes.

2.  After 30 minutes, preheat your oven or toaster oven to 150° F. Rinse the zucchini slices well under a running tap and place them on a clean kitchen towel to pat dry. Then, place the zucchini on a tray covered with tin foil and let it dry out in the oven for about two hours. If you are short on time, you can raise the oven temperature a bit and let the zucchini dry out for a shorter time.

dried zucchini

3.  Once the zucchini are fairly dry, almost rubbery in texture, drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle a teaspoon of dried oregano over them. Do NOT add salt, but do grind fresh pepper over the zucchini to taste.

4.  Preheat your grill to high or preheat your oven to 450° F. Split your dough in half and create two oblong pizzas on oiled heavy-duty tin foil or on an oiled cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. You can use a spray oil but I prefer to put a teaspoon of Canola oil on the foil and spread it with my hands or a paper towel. Partially bake the dough. This should take 10 minutes or so.

5.  Remove the partially baked dough and prepare your cheese.

Parmesan cheese

6.  In a bowl, add the 7 1/2 oz of farmers cheese, squeeze 4 cloves of farmer’s market garlic through a garlic press (or mince), add a generous amount of freshly ground pepper and then grate 4-6 Tbsp. of Parmesan to taste. Mix until uniform.

7.  Spread the cheese on the two pizza crusts and then carefully arrange the zucchini slices over the cheese. Place back on the grill or in the oven until the cheese is heated through. Slice and serve.

Note: This pizza can be topped with any kind of squash, onions or other fabulous vegetables you find at the farmer’s market. Just prepare the vegetables by cooking them partially first in the oven or on the grill, then assemble the pizzas, heat and serve.


Sweet Farmer’s Market Blueberry Blintz Pizza

Serving of blueberry pizza

1.  Prepare the dough as above, but before placing it to cook, brush water over the top of the dough and sprinkle with sugar.

2.  Preheat your grill to high or preheat your oven to 450° F. Split your dough in half and create two round pizzas on oiled heavy-duty tin foil or on an oiled cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. You can use a spray oil but I prefer to put a teaspoon of Canola oil on the foil and spread it with my hands or a paper towel. Partially bake the dough. This should take 10 minutes or so.

Farmer's cheese

Drain the blueberries3.  In a bowl, mix the farmer’s cheese, the zest of 1/2 of the lemon, mascarpone cheese and granulated sugar (or vanilla sugar if you have it).


4.  Top the partially cooked pizza crusts with the cheese mixture and return to the grill or oven until the cheese begins to melt slightly and is heated through.


5.  Take the pizza off of the heat and top with fresh blueberries. Sprinkle the entire pizza with a dusting of powdered sugar and finish with a little bit more lemon zest.

Closeup of blueberry pizza

Note: This pizza can be topped with pitted and sliced cherries, fresh berries and stone fruit that is not too juicy. If you are using stone fruit, I recommend grilling the stone fruit halves separately first and then slicing before topping the pizza.