Friday, August 12, 2011

A Shabbat Dinner: Tomato Ricotta Toasts, Vegetable Medley, Salmon with Mango Salsa and Rhubarb-Ginger Sorbet

Reflecting, sharing, talking, eating, laughing ... words that come to mind when I think of Shabbat dinner. Slowing down. Every Friday night, we celebrate Shabbat with candle lighting, blessing wine and challah, and blessing our sons, Sam and Isaac. Most Friday evenings, there are friends at our table or we are at friends’. This is a special time for us to catch up on the week, meet new people, deepen friendships and connect with our community. A time I truly value.

I always look forward to Friday night Shabbat dinners. No matter how busy the week has been, I can count on this being a special time to relax. Often, I breathe a deep sigh once I light the candles. This moment grounds me, almost like a reset button to prepare for the next week. I stop and enjoy being here, look around the table at my family and our guests, and bask in content feelings. We greet each other with “Shabbat Shalom.” There are hugs and l’chaims (to life!). And, of course, there is food.

Cooking for Shabbat dinner gives me great joy. A staple at the table is challah, which I love to bake (with chocolate chips). As for the meal, for me it is a time to get creative with new ideas or to make a family favorite, and always to indulge in dessert.

Our lovely friends Seth, Elana and their delightful son, Gabriel, came for Shabbat dinner in our backyard and what a marvelous evening we had together. We don’t see them as often as we’d like due to our children attending different schools, our jobs, life ... you know how it is. But how wonderful to have some hours to share what is happening in all our lives, their upcoming trip to Turkey, summer plans, updates on our sons’ schools and musings about life.

For this dinner, I slow roasted tomatoes and served them on toasted baguette slices with freshly made ricotta and a dusting of dukkah. Salmon, with a simple sprinkle of sea salt and squeeze of lime, was paired with mango salsa. I roasted fingerling potatoes, radishes, red onions and baby carrots and dressed them together with a vinaigrette. Dessert was a refreshing, tart rhubarb-ginger sorbet (the recipe for this sorbet can be found at Cheap Beets, a terrific food blog).

Here's to a memorable evening with friends. Shabbat Shalom.

Roasted Tomato Ricotta Toasts
This is a casual recipe in terms of amounts. Use your best judgment as far as how many toasts to prepare depending upon the size of your group and whether it’s a snack or appetizer.

Slow roasted tomatoes (recipe follows)
Fresh ricotta cheese (recipe follows)
A baguette loaf
Dukkah for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice the baguette thinly and place the rounds on a baking sheet. Bake the slices for about 10 minutes, flipping over halfway through. The toasts should be crisp but not hard.

Smear some ricotta on each toast and top with a roasted tomato half. Sprinkle on some dukkah and serve.

Slow Roasted Tomatoes
For the toasts, I roasted a lot of tomatoes so I would have extra. They are a delicious staple to keep in your fridge. Serve alongside eggs, slip a couple into a sandwich, or eat them straight from the jar. You can’t go wrong!

3 1/2 pounds Roma tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise (or enough halves to fit on a rimmed baking sheet)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Place the tomato halves in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, cut side up. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Bake the tomatoes for about 6 hours and up to 8, depending upon how juicy or dry you prefer them. They will shrink and start to crinkle around the edges. I like both the juicy and drier ones and will often remove some of the tomatoes after 6 hours and continue roasting the rest for another couple. The tomato flavor concentrates and sweetens and is just delicious.

Cool tomatoes and begin eating! Roasted tomatoes will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a week.

Fresh Ricotta Cheese
From Gourmet
Makes 2 cups

2 quarts whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Line a large sieve with a layer of fine-mesh cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl.

Slowly bring the milk, cream and salt to a rolling boil in a 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Add the lemon juice, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly until the mixture curdles, about 2 minutes.

Pour the mixture into the lined sieve and let it drain 1 hour. You can save the liquid for another use or discard. Chill the ricotta. It will keep in the fridge in a covered container for 2-3 days.

Salmon with Mango Salsa
Serves 8

8-5 ounce filets of salmon, skinned and pin bones removed
3 limes
Salt to taste
Olive oil
2 mangoes, diced
1 cup pineapple, diced
2 avocadoes, diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/4 of a red onion, finely diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle a little olive oil on a baking sheet and lightly coat the bottom. Place salmon filets on the baking sheet and squeeze a little bit of lime juice on each (using 1 lime). Sprinkle the filets with salt. Bake the salmon for about 8 minutes (if your filet is about an inch thick). I like my salmon slightly undercooked since it will continue cooking when removed from the oven and this keeps it from drying out. If you like your fish more done, then bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.

Combine the mangoes, pineapple, avocadoes, tomatoes and red onion in a bowl and mix gently. Stir in lime juice and salt to taste. Serve with the salmon filets.

Vegetable Medley
Serves 8 (with leftovers)

2 pounds fingerling potatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
3 bunches radishes, cleaned and quartered
2 red onions, sliced in wedges
3/4 pound small baby carrots, tops removed and sliced in half lengthwise (or quartered if a little thicker)
Olive oil for tossing
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a bowl, toss the fingerling potatoes with a little olive oil and layer on a baking sheet. Roast until tender and golden, about 25 minutes. Remove potatoes and pile on a large serving platter (you’ll be adding the other vegetables, too, so space accordingly).

Toss the radishes with olive oil (can use same bowl) and layer on baking sheet. Roast until tender but still have a bite, about 10 minutes. Remove and pile on the serving platter.

Toss the onions with olive oil and layer on baking sheet. Roast for about 15 minutes, until soft and browning at the edges. Remove and pile on the serving platter.

Toss the carrots with olive oil and layer on baking sheet. Roast for about 10-15 minutes, until soft but still a little crisp. Remove and pile on the serving platter. This can all be done a couple of hours ahead of time.

Whisk together the honey, vinegars, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the dressing over the veggies and gently give each vegetable a little toss to distribute the vinaigrette. Serve room temperature.


  1. ONLY in the NW, can you get that lighting for the most amazing photographs!

  2. What a fantastic spread....I want to dive in to that platter of vegetables and what a great way to spend a Friday evening :)

  3. @Pauline
    We do have great lighting...when the clouds go away! Rushing now to get some photos before the rain comes tonight.

  4. @Mairi
    Thank you, Mairi! I love spotlighting the great veggies we're getting right now.

  5. I pulled up your post and my first thought was "Oh, Shabbos dinner really is my favorite moment of the week. Lighting candles is so calming." And then I thought, oh neat, she made the same sorbet, I wonder what recipe she used. Thank you so much for the shout-out. And I just posted a recipe for slow-roasted tomatoes!

  6. @cheapbeets
    My pleasure! This is the time for tomatoes, that's for sure. I just made tomato jam (this month's Bon Appetit) and it's SO good!


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