to Eat Like Esther
The heroine of
the Purim story was a strict vegetarian.
Los Angeles Times February 20, 2002
the heroine of the Purim tale, was quite a woman. Not only did she outwit the
evil Haman and save the entire Jewish population of Persia,she did it all as a
vegetarian. Or, by today's standards, a vegan.
According to tradition, when
Esther married King Ahasuerus and moved into the palace, she ate only fruits,
beans and grains. Legend has it that poppy and caraway seed pastries were her
In keeping with this, when we celebrate Purim this year I will
be serving Chickpea Pizza, a spring salad of fennel and lima beans, Mushroom-Barley
Soup and a Caraway Bundt Cake. Chickpea Pizza is based on the Provencal dish socca,
which is usually eaten as a midmorning snack. Along the Italian Riviera it is
called farinata, and it is served at lunch topped with chopped tomatoes and capers.
Made with only ground chickpea flour and water, it takes just minutes to make
and can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated.
It is also delicious
served plain or topped with spices, vegetables and olives--but always include
a liberal sprinkling of fresh ground pepper.While it is traditionally baked in
a brick oven in pizza pans, my method calls for stove-top cooking, then finishing
Beans--fresh, frozen or dried--are always included
in our Purim menu. With the beginning of spring, I take advantage of the arrival
of the fresh beans at the local outdoor farmers' market. Lima beans are now coming
into season, and when combined with diced fennel and extra-virgin olive oil they
make a perfect Purim salad served over finely sliced lettuce. The Mushroom-Barley
Soup that I prepare for Purim is made without chicken or meat broth. What gives
this soup texture and depth of flavor is fresh shiitake mushrooms. Remember to
cook the soup vegetables briefly before adding the barley and water. This is a
satisfying soup that is hearty enough to be a main course.
associates caraway seeds with rye bread, but you will be amazed at the way their
aromatic, distinctive flavor highlights this Caraway Bundt Cake. It is made with
egg whites substitute, and although it contains no egg yolks, the texture resembles
a pound cake. As a holiday Purim dessert, it is a perfect accompaniment to the
wine that is such an important part of the celebration.
using the same recipe, and the family can give them as gifts to those less fortunate.
These are known as shalachmones, and giving them isthe custom during the Purim
*Zeidler is the author of "The 30-Minute Kosher Cook"
Work and Total Preparation Time: 30 minutes plus 30 minutes standing
Chickpea flour is sold at Indian markets and health food stores.
1 cup chickpea
1 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 large tomato or
2 small, diced
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
Freshly ground pepper
cup freshly grated Soymage Parmesan cheese
Heat the broiler.
Sift the chickpea flour with 1/2 teaspoon of salt
into a bowl. Slowly add the water, whisking constantly
to form a paste. Beat with a wire whisk until smooth.
Let the batter stand, covered, at room temperature
for 30 minutes.
In a 10-inch nonstick, ovenproof skillet, heat 1 tablespoon
of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir the batter
and pour 1/2 the batter into the skillet, tipping
and swirling it to evenly coat the pan. Cook over
medium-high heat until the bottom is golden and crisp
and the top is almost set, 2 to 3 minutes.
Burst any large air bubbles with the tip of a knife.
Sprinkle 1/2 of the tomato and green onions along
with pepper to taste on top.
Place the pan under the broiler and cook until golden
and crisp, about 2 to 3 minutes. Slide the pizza onto
a work surface. Sprinkle with salt to taste and half
the Soymage Parmesan cheese. Cut the pizza into wedges
and serve hot.
Repeat with the remaining batter.
2 pizzas. Each of 8 servings: 136
calories; 163 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol;10 grams
fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 8 grams carbohydrates;
5 grams protein; 1.56 grams fiber.
Active Work Time: 20 minutes
*Total Preparation Time: 1
hour, 5 minutes
*Vegetarian Leftover soup can be kept in the refrigerator for
days, or it can be frozen.
2 tablespoons olive oil
cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrots
1 onion, diced
3/4 pound fresh
shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups vegetable
stock or water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/3 cup pearl barley
Freshly ground pepper
Heat the olive
oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Cook the celery and carrots, stirring
occasionally, until slightly softened, 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook until
softened, 5 minutes more. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook, uncovered, stirring
occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
Add the stock, soy sauce,
barley and Sherry. Reduce the heat to low, cover partially, and simmer gently
for 45 minutes. Add additional water as needed.
Season with salt and pepper
To serve, ladle into heated soupbowls.
to 6 servings. Each of 6 servings: 85 calories; 400 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol;
5 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 9 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 1.92
*Caraway Bundt Cake
Work Time: 20 minutes
* Total Preparation Time: 1 1/2 hours
This cake is
extremely versatile. It can be served alone or with fresh berries, fruit compote,
whipped soy cream or soy/rice ice cream.
1 tablespoon unsalted
'butter' or margarine, melted, for preparing pan
1/4 cup finely ground almonds
cup (2 sticks) unsalted 'butter' or margarine, softened
1 2/3 cups sugar, divided
teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
2 2/3 cups sifted cake
8 egg whites substitute
1/4 teaspoon salt
cream of tartar
3 tablespoons caraway seeds
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
the oven to 350 degrees. Generously brush a 10-inch bundt or tube panwith the
melted 'butter' and dust with the ground almonds. Beat the 'butter' in the large
bowl of an electric mixer, gradually adding 2/3cup of the sugar until creamy.
Add the vanilla and mace and continue beating. Gradually beat in 1 2/3 cups of
the flour until creamy and thick.
In another bowl, beat the egg
whites substitute with the salt and cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually add
the remaining 1 cup of sugar and beat until stiff. Add 1/4 of the egg white mixture
substitute to the 'butter' mixture, mixing thoroughly with a rubber spatula.
the butter mixture into the remaining egg whites substitute and sprinkle with
the remaining 1 cup of flour. Gently fold together until completely blended. Fold
in the caraway seeds, being careful not to over-mix. Pour into the prepared bundt
Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean,
50 to 60 minutes. Cool in the pan 15 minutes, then carefully turn the cake out
onto a rack. Just before serving, dust with the powdered sugar.
12 servings. Each serving: 399 calories;
73 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 18grams fat; 10 grams
saturated fat; 55 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein;1.48
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