I was putting my Shabbat meal together, plating everything in the kitchen, while a group of hungry young people waited impatiently in the next room. It looked like I had a pretty impressive lineup, with my glazed corned beef, zaatar chicken pargiot, a nice mesclun salad, a quinoa salad, some roasted cauliflower, sweet potato and string beans. Pretty simple, but plentiful and good.
I had everything lined up to serve buffet style when it hit me. My son had just come home from Israel and was still a vegetarian. He had decided back in November to give up meat, chicken and fish, and I was fine with it. He wasn’t home, so he could eat however he liked, and I could continue to cook however I liked. I guess I never expected him to come home and still be a vegetarian. I mean, everyone’s kids go through these phases and they never really last. But apparently it has. (He never even gave in to the Papagaio all-you-can-eat carnivore’s menu.) Eight months later and he is still not eating meat, chicken or fish. So, I stared at my corned beef, feeling a little bad for a minute—because I realized that, aside from the quinoa, I didn’t really have anything too interesting for him to eat. I’m sure he would have been fine with whatever I served—I mean, there were quite a few vegetable options. But it was his first Shabbat home and I wanted it to feel special.
As everyone sat patiently in the dining room, I opened up my pantry and saw the shelves filled with cans of chickpeas that I hoard for no reason. Perfect! I know my son likes those, and I could quickly throw together some sort of hearty salad for him. From deeper in the pantry I dug up a jar of roasted peppers (that I don’t remember buying) and a gigantic jar of capers (that I bought from Costco—who needs that many capers??). I hastily sliced up some grape tomatoes and chopped up some fresh parsley and tossed this all together in a bowl with my go-to all-purpose vinaigrette. I think the hungry crowd was on their third challah by the time I called them in, but I was a happy mom. A few extra minutes yielded a tasty, colorful, protein-packed vegetarian salad. And trust me, he wasn’t the only one who ate it!
So, once again, lesson learned—a well-stocked pantry can produce some pretty good food at a moment’s notice!
Chickpea Tomato Salad
- 3 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 6 oz. jarred roasted peppers, diced
- 4 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
- ½-¾ cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
- ¼ cup sliced scallions (optional)
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons sugar, or sweetener of choice
Combine the first six ingredients gently in a bowl. In a small plastic container that has a lid, combine vinaigrette ingredients and shake vigorously. Pour over salad and chill. Delicious served as a side or main dish. Of course, all ingredients can be adjusted to taste, and add whatever else you like!
COOKING CAMP: A few spots are still available for the weeks of July 10 and July 25 for girls ages 9 to 12. Email for details!
By Rachel Berger