While living in the palace of King Ahashverus, Queen Esther consumed only vegetarian foods to maintain a kosher diet, so here are a few bean and vegetable dishes you can serve this Purim.
Most people are familiar with hamentashen for Purim, representative of the hat worn by Haman, whose plot to have the Jewish people massacred was foiled by Queen Esther.
But beyond hamentashen, the food traditions associated with the holiday are not as widely known.
There are several other elements of the story that lend themselves to food: While living in the palace, Queen Esther consumed only vegetarian foods in order to maintain her kosher diet, so bean and vegetable dishes are commonly served at Purim. Haman’s triangular shaped hat is the model for the hamentashen pastry, but other foods with this shape are appropriate offerings for Purim as well.
So, for this festive holiday, I offer this modern repast in honor of the ancient story.
2 Tbsps. vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 bell peppers, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. cumin
chopped jalapeno or chili pepper (optional)
1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
2 cans (16 oz. each) kidney beans, drained (or a mixture of kidney, pinto, pink, or black beans)
1 can (16 oz.) corn, drained
juice of one lime
Heat oil in large pot over medium heat; add onion, garlic, peppers, zucchini, chili powder, salt, cumin and jalapenos, if using. Stir until fragrant and vegetables are just starting to soften.Add the tomatoes, beans and corn.
Lower heat, simmer covered about 45 minutes until vegetables are softened and flavors are nicely melded.
Spritz with lime juice and serve.
When it comes to guacamole, I believe less is more. This simple version lets the ingredients stand out and always gets raves. Serve with triangular chips to evoke Haman’s hat.
3 ripe avocados
juice of one lime (or more)
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄4 cup chopped cilantro
Cut avocados in half, scoop flesh into bowl and mash. (Cook’s Tip: Leave one pit in the bowl with the avocado; this helps keep the guacamole from turning brown.) Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust salt and lime seasoning. Serve with chips.
6 flour tortillas
11⁄2 cups grated cheddar or Monterey jack cheese
Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium. Place tortillas flat in pan, fill with cheese and cook until cheese melts and tortillas are brown. Cover melted cheese with another tortilla, flip and brown. Cut (like a pizza) into triangles! Serve with salsas for dipping or plain with vegetarian chili.
Keri White is a regular contributor to the Exponent’s food blog, jewishexponent.com/philacatessen.