Say Cheese for Shavuot


Going out to eat for me and my family used to mean one thing: a meat meal. We would treat ourselves to steak or shishlik or schawarma or other popular meaty delights.

That is, however, until we discovered Jerusalem's Pizza'leh Rest — our local dairy bistro. We can't get enough of their food.

Chef Itzik Chen has put together ideas from the classic Italian kitchen along with his diverse and unusual specialties. The variety is amazing. Owner Avi Museri's emphasis on fresh ingredients, as well as a pleasing atmosphere and great personal service, make Pizza'leh a place we frequent almost too often.

Shavuot is a traditional time for dairy delights, and Pizza'leh has agreed to share the following recipes with us.

Balkan Pasta

2 lb. plum tomatoes
18 oz. cooked pasta, drained
3 Tbsps. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
14 pitted Kalamata olives (substitute other quality black olives)
3 Tbsps. tomato paste
3 Tbsps. sugar
1 tsp. salt
15 fresh basil leaves
1 tsp. dried oregano
8 oz. feta cheese
3 roasted red peppers, peeled, cut into strips

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add tomatoes and cook for about one minute to facilitate peeling. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into cold water. Peel and cut into coarse pieces.

Heat olive oil. Add garlic and olives and saute lightly for about one minute until golden. Add tomato paste and tomatoes and let simmer.

Add sugar and salt and cook for about 20 minutes. Add oregano, basil and roasted peppers, and continue to simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Grate feta cheese into the sauce. Add pasta after about one minute. Serve warm.

Serves 4 to 5.

Haloumi Skewers

Teriyaki Sauce Ingredients:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
4 Tbsps. sweet chili sauce
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tbsps. chopped fresh coriander leaves
1 Tbsp. chopped ginger

To Prepare Teriyaki Sauce: Sear scallions and carrots on all sides in a hot frying pan (without oil) until almost blackened. Add water, soy sauce and sugar. Bring to a boil and add remaining ingredients.

Cook over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes until thickened. Chill and blend.

To Prepare Skewers: Preheat oven to 400°.

Coat Haloumi cubes with flour and fry in deep oil for one minute. Remove from oil and cool.

Thread 1 mushroom, cherry tomatoes, Haloumi and yellow pepper onto each skewer.

Place in oven for 10 minutes. Remove and cover with sauce.

Serve on bed of baby greens.

Serves 4.

Pizza'leh's Pisa Tower


  • For Phyllo:

    3 phyllo sheets
    3 Tbsps. butter, melted
    21/2 Tbsps. honey
    1/2 cup slivered almonds, crushed

    For the Mousse:

    2 Tbsps. instant vanilla pudding
    2 Tbsps. powdered sugar
    1/2 pint whipping cream (divided)
    1 tsp. gelatin
    grated zest from 2 lemons
    6 oz. Israeli white Tnuva cheese
    powdered sugar to sprinkle

    For Optional Sauce:

    3 and 1/2 oz. blueberries
    3 and 1/2 oz. raspberries
    3 and 1/2 oz. cherries
    1/4 cup berry liqueur
    1 and 1/2 cups sugar



Preheat oven to 350°.

To Prepare Phyllo: Spread phyllo sheets out on a dry surface. Melt butter and mix with honey until uniform. Brush each sheet with mixture and sprinkle with almonds. Place sheet on top of each other and cut into 4-inch squares. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and cool.

To Prepare Mousse: Beat pudding, powdered sugar and 1/3 cup whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Whip remaining cream until soft peaks form.

Melt gelatin in 1/2 cup cold water until completely dissolved.

Mix white cheese with gelatin. Gently fold in pudding mixture, followed by whipped cream and, finally, lemon zest.

Cool mousse in refrigerator about two hours before serving.

To Prepare Sauce: Place berries, cherries, liqueur and sugar in a saucepan and cook over very low heat for 40 minutes to 1 hour until thickened. Chill.

To Build the Towers: Place one tablespoon of mouse in the middle of a deep serving dish. Cover with 1 phyllo square. Continue with 2 more layers each of mousse and phyllo, ending with mousse. Serve sauce on the side of each tower. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Serves 4.

Meuniere Salmon Filet

4 plum tomatoes
4 Tbsps. butter (divided)
2 Tbsps. olive oil
21 oz. thin skinless, boneless, salmon fillet
2 cloves garlic, sliced
8 fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup white wine
freshly ground black pepper
2 pinches of salt

Halve and skin the tomatoes. Bake them for about 20 minutes at 350°.

Heat a skillet to high and add 2 tablespoons butter and olive oil.

Place salmon in pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add garlic and tomatoes and saute lightly for two minutes. Add wine and basil and steam an additional two minutes.

Remove from heat and add remaining 30 grams of butter; mix until butter melts and sauce becomes thick and uniform.

Arrange pieces on plates and top with sauce.

Serves 4.

Rivka Tal is a former Minnesotan who has lived in Jerusalem for the past 45 years. She is a food writer and translator. Email her at: [email protected]



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