Quick, Kosher and Up to Snuff

“What’s for dinner?” is the question most of us dread hearing as we walk through the door after a long day. The challenge of coming up with healthy, tasty meals to satisfy everyone in your family is enough to make you scramble for the nearest takeout menu. But for kosher households, that becomes even more difficult because ordering in isn’t always an option.

But help is on the way!

Father, chef, television host and cookbook author Jeff Nathan shows that it is possible for busy families to gather around the dinner table and enjoy the simple pleasure of a home-cooked meal every night of the week in his new Jeff Nathan’s Family Suppers: More Than 125 Simple Kosher Recipes.

Here are three ideas for making some casual and flavorful main dishes, almost at the drop of a hat.

Note the choice of meat, dairy or vegetarian recipes so that you can plan the rest of the meal.

Korean-Style Short Ribs

Korean cuisine has a grilling tradition every bit as entrenched as our own American barbecue. Their rich marinade is always on the sweet side, packed with scallions and garlic. And flanken happens to be one of the most popular cuts for grilling Korean-style. Note that the flanken is not long-cooked to tenderness here, and will be somewhat chewy.

2 cups soy sauce
8 scallions, white and green parts, coarsely chopped
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup sweet white wine, such as Riesling
1/2 cup rice-wine vinegar
1/2 cup dark Asian sesame oil
1/2 cup minced garlic (the store-bought variety in the jar is fine)
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
2 tsps. freshly ground black pepper
6 lbs. beef flanken (cross-cut beef ribs)
white or brown rice as a topping or side

Mix the soy sauce, scallions, brown sugar, wine, vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and black pepper in a large bowl.

Divide the beef among two zippered plastic bags.

Add equal amounts of the marinade and close the bags. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 12 hours.

Preheat a gas grill on high. If using charcoal, let the charcoal burn until the coals are covered with white ash. Lightly oil the grill grate.

Remove beef from the marinade.

Grill, turning occasionally, until the meat is well-browned and medium-rare, about 8 minutes, or longer, if you prefer.

For each individual serving, place 2 or 3 lengths of flanken onto a plate.

Top with a mound of white or brown rice.

Serve hot.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Sicilian-Style Stuffed Bell Peppers

What’s unusual about these stuffed peppers (well, unusual to American cooks, but probably not to Sicilians) is that they are filled with savory breadcrumbs and not rice, ground meat or others of the same-old same-olds. With the classic combination of anchovy, raisins and capers for a wonderfully sweat-and-salty (and even bitter) interplay, they are equally great hot out of the oven or cooled to room temperature for a warm-weather entree.

4 sweet bell peppers, either red, yellow, orange or green
1 cup Italian-seasoned dry breadcrumbs
1/3 cup, plus 1 Tbsp., golden raisins, plumbed and drained (see note)
6 boneless anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1/4 cup nonpareil capers, drained and rinsed
2 Tbsps. chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsps. chopped fresh basil
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup canned tomato sauce, as needed

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400F.

Lightly oil a large baking sheet.

Trim the stems from the peppers. Cut each pepper in half lengthwise or in thirds, if they are very large. Remove the seeds and large veins. Place peppers skin-side down on baking sheet.

Mix breadcrumbs, raisins, anchovies, capers, parsley and basil in a medium bowl.

Add the oil, and stir well to make a crumbly mixture with the texture of wet sand. Season with the pepper. (You won’t need salt, thanks to the anchovies.)

Spread the crumb mixture in a thin layer onto the cut surface of each pepper. Drizzle each with about a tablespoon of oil, and top each with 1 tablespoon of tomato sauce.

Bake until the peppers are wilted and the crumb filling is golden-brown, about 25 minutes.

Serve hot, or cool to room temperature.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: To plump the raisins, place them in a small bowl and add enough warm to hot water to cover them by about an inch. Let stand until they swell, about 30 minutes. Don’t overdo it, or they’ll get too soft. Drain well.

Four-Cheese, Baked Ziti With Herbed Crumbs

If you have ovenproof crocks, bake in individual servings.

Ingredients for Herbed Crumbs:

1 cup Italian-seasoned dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
8 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Main Ingredients:

1 lb. ziti
1 jar (28 oz.) store-bought marinara sauce
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 cups (1 lb). shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded Havarti cheese
1 container (15 oz.) ricotta cheese

Position rack in the center of oven and preheat to 375F.

Lightly oil a 13×9-inch baking dish.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente (it will cook further in the oven), about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the herbed crumbs. Mix breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley, basil, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the oil and mix with your hands until the crumbs feel like wet sand. Set aside.

Drain pasta well; return it to the pot. Mix in marinara sauce, oregano, basil and pepper.

Blend in half of the herbed crumbs, 3 cups of the mozzarella, and the Havarti and ricotta. Spread evenly in baking dish.

Mix together the remaining herbed crumbs and 1 cup mozzarella; sprinkle a thick layer over the pasta.

Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the topping is golden, about 25 minutes.

Let stand for a few minutes before serving the dish hot.

Makes 8 servings.



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