Saturday, January 25, 2020

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


 Rachel is a recovering real estate attorney, currently opening cans of stuff and making random salads. Check out her blog at and follow her on Facebook and Instagram @TheKosherDinnerLady. You can contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Join Our List
and receive information on community events, announcements, exclusive sales and our issue emails.