Jake Cohen’s Shabbat Dinner Series | Spring Fling

Jake Cohen is a nice Jewish boy who loves food. He studied at the Culinary Institute of America, then worked the line at NYC institutions DANIEL and ABC Kitchen before transitioning out of restaurants and into food media. From recipe testing at Saveur Magazine to becoming Food Editor at TastingTable.com, he’s total Shabbat #goals. And trust us, you’re definitely going to want to follow him on Instagram at @jakecohen.

In this blog series, I’m focusing on 3-course Shabbat meals for 10 people. Follow along on insta at @onetableshabbat for how-tos and tips, then find the full recipes here each week.

LITTLE GEM SALAD WITH TAHINI-GARLIC DRESSING

This is such an easy salad to make, but everyone is going to lose it. Little gem lettuce makes for perfect quarters to give that wedge salad feel, before getting drizzled in a creamy tahini dressing and topped with toasted hazelnuts and pickled celery. The pickling liquid for the celery shines in the dressing adding a sweet and tangy component, while amplifying the flavor of the celery. Feel free to save it to make copious amounts of the dressing to last you throughout the week. This salad will also hold dressed, so you can assemble it right before your guests arrive and store in the fridge if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

For the pickled celery:
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup water
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon coriander
6 celery stalks, trimmed and sliced on a bias ¼-inch thick

For the dressing:
½ cup tahini
½ cup celery pickling liquid
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
Kosher salt, to taste

For the salad:
10 heads little gem lettuce, trimmed and quartered
Dressing
Pickled celery
¾ cup hazelnuts, roughly chopped
Celery leaves, for garnish

  1. Make the pickled celery: In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and coriander to a simmer over high heat. Cook until the sugar and salt has dissolved, 2 minutes. Place the celery in a heatproof bowl and pour the pickling liquid over it. Let cool completely.
  2. Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk all the dressing ingredients until smooth.
  3. Assemble the salad: Arrange the lettuce on a platter and drizzle with the dressing. Top with the pickled celery and chopped hazelnuts. Garnish with celery leaves, then serve.

PESTO-RICOTTA LASAGNA

This is the ultimate vegetarian centerpiece for any Shabbat layering lasagna sheets with mushroom ragu, pesto-laced ricotta and mozzarella. While I’m not having you make the pasta from scratch (which isn’t as hard a it may seem), par boiling dried sheets is the next best thing (please don’t use no-boil sheets). The best part is that it can be made completely in advance and then just popped into the oven before your guests arrive. Actually, I lied. The best part is that you’re going to have leftovers to eat the next morning.

For the mushroom ragú:
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces mixed mushrooms, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons red wine
Two 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 thyme sprig
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the pesto ricotta:
4 cups (2 pounds) whole-milk ricotta
1 cup basil pesto
½ cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs

For assembly:
Olive oil, for greasing
1½ pounds dried lasagna sheets, cooked according to package directions
2 pounds mozzarella, cut into ¼-inch slices

  1. Make the ragù: In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until lightly caramelized, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and onions, and cook until the onions are translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Pour in the wine and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  2. Add the tomatoes, oregano and thyme, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes have broken down and the liquid has thickened, 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool, then transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Make the pesto ricotta: In a large bowl, whisk together all the ricotta ingredients until smooth. Transfer to an airtight container and let refrigerate overnight.
  4. Assemble the lasagna: Preheat the oven to 350°. In the baking dish, spread a quarter of the ragù on the bottom. Place 3 to 4 sheets of pasta dough across the bottom, overlapping slightly to cover. Spread a third of the pesto ricotta over the sheets and layer with a quarter of the sliced mozzarella, then arrange more pasta sheets to cover. Repeat the process of layering, alternating the ragù and the ricotta, 4 more times, for a total of 6 layers of pasta. Top the final layer of pasta with the remaining quarter of the ragù and the mozzarella slices.
  5. Cover the lasagna with greased foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake covered for 45 minutes, then remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese is golden brown and bubbling, 30 minutes more. Let cool for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

ROASTED SPRING VEGETABLES

Roasting a big batch of vegetables for a crowd should be the easy side dish you always go to. All you have to do is flavor the olive oil with herbs, garlic and citrus and then roast the veggies at a high temp to get them golden and tender. The key to this recipe is getting the mushrooms golden before you add the asparagus and snap peas since they’re going to take a lot less time in the oven. This way you have golden ‘shrooms and tender green veg all on the same pan.

Ingredients:
½ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon zest, plus more for garnish
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound mixed mushrooms, roughly torn
3 pounds asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 pounds sugar snap peas, stems trimmed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pea shoots, for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper.
  2. On a sheet pan, toss the mushrooms with half the oil mixture. Roast until lightly golden, 25 to 30 minutes.
  3. Add the asparagus, snap peas and the remaining oil mixture to the pan and toss to coat. Continue roasting until the asparagus and snap peas are tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Transfer to a platter and drizzle with the lemon juice. Garnish with sunflower seeds and pea shoots, then serve.

LEMON-SUMAC BARS

Springtime screams for lemon bars, and the fact that it still feel like winter seconds the need giving the extended bounty of beautiful citrus. Sumac is the secret ingredient for these perfect lemon bars adding a distinct tartness to the dough for optimal puckering when you eat them. Not to be too repetitive, but these can be made the night before and kept in the fridge! I try to always have my dessert completely handled in advance.

For the crust:
2 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup almond flour
½ cup sugar
¼ cup cold water
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cured sumac
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

For the curd:
3 cups sugar
1½ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 eggs, plus 6 yolks
1 stick unsalted butter

For assembly:
Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
Ground sumac, for garnish

  1. Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 325° and line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper so it hangs over the edges of the pan. In a food processor, add all the crust ingredients and pulse until a crumbly dough forms. Press the dough into the prepared pan, covering the entire surface. Bake until golden, 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the curd: In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, lemon juice and zest, cornstarch, salt, eggs and egg yolks until smooth. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain, then stir in the butter until smooth.
  3. Immediately after removing the crust from the oven, pour the curd over the crust, spreading evenly with an offset spatula. Return to the oven and bake until set, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely, then refrigerate for 2 hours. Remove the bars from the pan, using the overhanging parchment. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and garnish with thyme leaves, then cut into bars and serve.

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Jake Cohen

Jake Cohen is a nice Jewish boy who loves food. He studied at the Culinary Institute of America, then worked the line at NYC institutions DANIEL and ABC Kitchen before transitioning out of restaurants and into food media. From recipe testing at Saveur Magazine to becoming Food Editor at TastingTable.com, he’s total Shabbat #goals. And trust us, you’re definitely going to want to follow him on Instagram at @jakecohen.

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    This is beautiful 🙂

    Lana Alman Reply

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