Hearty Dishes for Hearty Appetites

Pea Zucchini Soup
6 servings

A lovely thick soup of Italian origin, this recipe calls for non-seasonal ingredients. The soup freezes well and you can make it pareve or dairy.

4 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound zucchini, rinsed and trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
20 ounces frozen sweet peas, thawed
3 cups vegetable stock
10 basil leaves, torn
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Add garlic and zucchini and sauté for one minute. Add peas and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook, covered, for 5 minutes.

Puree half the soup coarsely in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Return the soup to the saucepan, add basil leaves and season to taste.

Optional: Serve garnished with cheese.

Pasta with Bell Pepper Tomato Sauce
4 servings as a main course
6 servings as an appetizer

This versatile, non-seasonal pasta sauce is a little spicy. I prefer to use San Marzano’s peeled tomatoes, my favorite brand.

1 pound rigatoni, or any other similarly shaped pasta

2 red bell peppers
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
14-ounce can San Marzano peeled, imported Italian tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Tabasco, a few drops
1 tablespoon lemon juice, approximately
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil in a large, covered pot. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and all the pasta at once; stir well. Boil briskly, uncovered, for 5 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente (tender but still firm to the bite). Drain pasta in a colander.

To prepare peppers, preheat broiler. Halve the peppers and remove the seeds. Line the rack of a broiler pan with foil, and place peppers skin side up on it. Broil close to the heat source (approximately 6 inches) for 6-7 minutes, or until peppers are blistered and charred. Wrap in foil—the heat will loosen the skin. When cool, peel and puree peppers in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add garlic and sauté over low heat for one minute. Next, add pepper puree, tomatoes and red pepper flakes. Cook gently, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Season the sauce to taste with Tabasco, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Add pasta to sauce and season to taste. Serve warm.

Pea Zucchini Soup
Photos: James Poster

4 servings

This is an unconventional recipe. Instead of using bread, I add a raw, grated potato to give the meat a light and moist texture. The meatloaf is good served warm or at room temperature.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus some for greasing foil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 Idaho potato, peeled and cut into large pieces
1 large egg
1 pound ground meat (a blend of 1/2 pound ground veal and
1/2 pound ground beef)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon soy sauce, approximately
1/2 cup tightly packed Italian parsley, finely chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375°. Brush a 9 x 5 inch-Pyrex loaf pan with foil. Brush the foil with oil. Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a small skillet. Add onion and garlic and sauté, over low heat, until lightly golden.

Place in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, adding potato and egg. Puree until very smooth.

Transfer mixture to a medium bowl, adding ground meat, tomato paste, ketchup, soy sauce and parsley. Mix with your hands until thoroughly combined. Season to taste.

Place the meat in the greased, foil-lined pan and smooth the top. Bake for 55 minutes. Let cool before slicing; the meat will fall apart if it’s too hot.

Potato Latkes
Approximately 80 bite-size latkes

With Chanukah around the corner, I’m happy to share with you my version of baked, not fried, latkes. They are greaseless, too!

5-6 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion
2 pounds Idaho potatoes (approximately 4-5), peeled and
quartered lengthwise to fit into a food processor
1/4 cup unbleached flour
1 large egg plus 1 egg white, lightly whisked
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt, approximately
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, approximately

Preheat oven to 450°. Brush 2-3 heavy Teflon (non-stick) baking sheets with 2 teaspoons oil each. Peel and cut the onion into quarters and chop very finely in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Transfer to a bowl. Using the medium-shredding attachment of a food processor, grate potatoes and add them to the onion. Add flour, eggs, 1 teaspoon oil, salt and pepper and combine well. Season to taste.

Place generous teaspoons of potato mixture, without the accumulated liquid, onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake the latkes on the lowest rack of the oven for about 10 minutes, or until bottom is golden brown. Turn latkes over and bake for another 4-5 minutes, or until they are lightly golden.

Latkes can be baked earlier in the day and then reheated. Place latkes on a wire rack set over a baking sheet to prevent them from getting soggy. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 6-10 minutes, or until hot. The latkes can also be frozen (if properly wrapped), and heated without being thawed. Put frozen latkes on a wire rack set over a baking sheet in a preheated 400° oven for 8-10 minutes or until hot. (The time may need to be adjusted depending on the size and thickness of your latkes.)

Potato Latkes

Chocolate Bars
Makes 60 bars, 3/4 inches wide and 1 1/2 inches long

These cookies are light, but are quite chocolatey and have a slightly different texture than brownies. I cut them very small, almost bite size. They are simple to make and freeze very well.

1 cup unbleached flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
12 tablespoons unsalted margarine, at room temperature
1 cup sugar (scant measure)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
7 ounces imported bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 325°.

Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan and line with wax paper, leaving about 1 inch of the paper overhanging the two shorter sides.

In a small bowl, combine flour and cocoa powder. Set aside.

Beat margarine with a balloon whisk at medium speed, adding sugar gradually until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and the vanilla extract.

Fold in the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until well combined. Stir in half of the chopped chocolate.
Spread batter in the prepared pan. Sprinkle the top evenly with the rest of the chocolate. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the sides have begun to pull away and a cake tester placed in the center is slightly moist. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Grasping the edges of the wax paper, remove the cake from the pan and cut into the size or shape of your choice.

Helen Nash is the author of Kosher Cuisine (New Jersey, 1995) and Helen Nash’s Kosher Kitchen (New Jersey, 2000). She lives in New York City.

This article was featured in the Winter 2008 issue of Jewish Action.
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