Hearty Helpings

Hearty Helpings

By Helen Nash

Now that fall has arrived, we can switch gears and focus on slightly heartier, though still nutritious and eclectic, recipes.

Eggplant Caviar

4-6 servings as a first course

10-12 servings as a dip

This dish is often called a poor man’s caviar. It is of Georgian (Russian) origin, where eggplants are plentiful and almost seedless. I like to serve this dish as a first course, surrounded by slices of colorful peppers, cucumbers and crackers. Or as an hors d’oeuvre served with the same.

1 medium eggplant, about 1 1/4 pounds

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons tomato paste, approximately

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, approximately

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°. Bake the eggplant in a foil-lined boiler pan for 35-40 minutes, turning it once, or until soft to the touch.

While the eggplant is baking, heat olive oil in a skillet, add the onion, and sauté over low heat until soft and transparent. Set aside.

When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, cut in half, scrape off seeds as much as possible, pour off any accumulated juice. Scrape the flesh into a food processor fitted with the steel blade, along with the onion, and puree until semi-smooth. Transfer the eggplant to the skillet, add tomato paste, and cook for a few minutes. Season to taste with lemon, salt and pepper.


Halibut with Caper Sauce

2 servings

This is an easy, quick and light dish. The piquant sauce complements the fish well. You can, of course, substitute other fillets, such as red snapper.


2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, coarsely chopped (see note)

4 tablespoons dry white wine

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 halibut fillets, skinless, about 6 ounces each

1/2 cup loosely packed Italian parsley, finely chopped, for garnish

Make the Sauce:

Heat olive oil in a small pan, add garlic, and sauté over low heat, until just golden. Add capers and wine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Preheat the oven to 400°. Grease with olive oil an ovenproof dish (such as Pyrex) large enough to hold the fish in a single layer.

Place the fish in the dish, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover with heavy foil, and bake it in the upper third of the oven for 13-15 minutes, without turning, or until the fish changes color.

To Serve:

Place the fish on individual plates, spoon the hot sauce over it, and sprinkle with parsley.


If the capers are small, do not bother chopping them.


Broccoli with Toasted Garlic Crumbs

4 servings

Toasted panko transforms an ordinary vegetable into a special dish.

1 small bunch broccoli (about 3 stalks, or 1 pound)

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced

1/2 cup panko (see note)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Separate broccoli into florets, and steam until al dente (a little crisp to the bite). Set aside. Peel the stems, steam as well, and use for something else.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil, add garlic, and sauté over low heat until soft. Add panko and stir until golden. Add broccoli, combine well, and season to taste with salt and pepper.


Panko are Japanese bread flakes. They are lighter and crunchier than ordinary bread crumbs.


Glazed Chicken with Glazed Mushrooms

4 servings

This recipe, which can be prepared ahead of time and reheated, is a great blend of spicy and sweet. Served over sushi rice, it forms a nice pyramid.

Chicken Glaze:

3 tablespoons honey

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons Dijon style mustard

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 skinless, boneless, single chicken breasts

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Combine glaze in a small dish. Preheat oven to 425°. Salt and pepper chicken lightly. Place in an ovenproof dish, and brush with glaze. Bake for 8 minutes, turn over, brush with remaining glaze, and bake for another 8 minutes, or until the inside has turned pale pink.

Mushroom Glaze:

1 pound shiitake mushrooms

3 tablespoons sake

2 tablespoons soy sauce (Kikkoman Lite)

2 teaspoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil

2 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Chives, finely snipped, for garnish

Discard mushroom stems, wipe caps with a damp paper towel, and thickly slice. Set aside. In a small bowl combine sake, soy sauce, brown sugar and sesame oil.

Heat a wok, add olive oil and heat it. Stir-fry mushrooms over high heat until they are just beginning to wilt. Pour the glaze over them, and continue stirring over medium-high heat until mushrooms are almost dry, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To Serve:

Form sushi rice into desired shape, top with chicken, spoon sauce over it, then top with mushrooms. Garnish with snipped chives.


Pasta with Mushrooms and Radicchio

6 servings as a first course

4 servings as a main course

The ingredients for this dish are easily available. The pasta can be made either pareve or dairy, and can be served warm or at room temperature. However, it is best to add the lemon juice just before serving—if added too early, it will discolor the vegetables.

1 pound fresh cultivated mushrooms

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup frozen sweet peas, thawed

1/4 pound radicchio, cut into thin strips

1/4 cup tightly packed Italian parsley, coarsely chopped

Kosher salt

1 pound imported orecchiette (ear shaped pasta) or any other small shaped pasta

Freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, approximately

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional, for garnish


Wipe mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Thinly slice, and set aside.

In a medium saucepan heat olive oil, add garlic, and sauté over low heat for a minute. Add mushrooms, and stir over high heat until mushrooms are just beginning to wilt. Add peas, radicchio and parsley. Set aside.

While making the sauce, bring 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large covered pot. Add 2 tablespoons salt and all the pasta at once; stir. Boil briskly, uncovered, for 4-5 minutes, or until pasta is al dente, tender but still firm to the bite. Pour into a colander and shake vigorously to drain well.

Toss pasta with the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add lemon juice before serving.

If you like, serve the pasta with Parmesan cheese as a garnish.

This article was featured in the Fall 2006 issue of Jewish Action.