By Elke Probkevitz
I love this time of year, when we step away from the familiar routine of yom tov dishes and get to incorporate dairy into the mix. Sometimes we tend to go overboard, using cheese in every dish from salads and soups to pastas and dessert! While you want to try out all those special dairy delicacies, you don’t want to leave your family and guests overcome with lactose overload. There are four meals to indulge in; it’s important to create a balanced meal so it won’t be too heavy or excessive. Here are some tips for keeping your Shavuos meal on the lighter side.
Balance is key. If every dish is cheesy and heavy, it will be hard for your diners to enjoy it all. Instead, make a vegetarian or fish appetizer and serve heavier, cheesier dishes for the main course. Or serve cheese for the appetizer and dessert while keeping the main course light with fish and vegetables. Whichever course contains dairy, balance it out with fresh produce like fruit or salads to keep it lighter.
Fish can be the star. Dairy does not have to be the main attraction; it can have a supporting role in your meal. Use fish, which usually serves as an appetizer, as your main protein. Whether you’re making ceviche or gravlax, seared or baked, burgers or patties, whole or filleted, all kinds of fish can be used in many exciting different ways. Make dairy side dishes like Parmesan asparagus or Brussels sprouts with gruyere.
Indulge in butter instead of cheese. Cheese is not the only thing missing from our Shabbos and yom tov meals. Butter is another ingredient you can add to a vegetable or fish dish to make it more decadent. Since it’s only once a year, adding butter is a splurge that can take your ordinary vegetable dish to a whole new level.
Don’t overdo it. Cheese does not have to overpower the meal. You can make dishes with a touch of dairy here and there, like crumbled goat cheese in a salad or a dollop of sour cream or yogurt as a garnish on top of your soup. You don’t need to make dishes drenched in melted cheese for every meal.
Salad, salad, salad. The best meals that I’ve been to had no cheese or meat at all. Try making one of your meals with salads as your main course. You can make three or four main dish salads, with or without fish or cheese. Then you can make a lighter fish dish like ceviche or a small dairy dish just as a filler. You will feel lighter and happier after your meal, and you will definitely have room for a little cheesecake for dessert. v
Grilled Peaches-And-Plums Salad With Honey
For the dressing:
2.5 oz. creamy goat cheese
1 Tbsp. honey
½ Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1½ tsp. apple-cider vinegar
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1½ Tbsp. water
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
For the salad:
6 cups mixed baby greens
2 ripe peaches, sliced into wedges
2 ripe plums, sliced into wedges
24 pecan halves
In a blender, combine goat cheese, honey, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and water. Season with salt and pepper. Blend till creamy. Refrigerate till ready to use.
Heat grill pan over medium-high heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray. Grill fruit wedges for 1 minute until grill marks appear. Place salad greens on four plates. Top with fruit and nuts. Drizzle with dressing before serving.
Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to elke@TakeHomeChef.net, or visiting www.TakeHomeChef.net.