There are some things in life that automatically make stuff better: baby smiles, cheese, and chocolate, to name a few.
Shabbat can do that too — even though sometimes it might seem like it requires way too much effort, a change in your routine, or choosing between going out with friends and staying home (not that you can’t do both, of course), Shabbat also offers a day of relaxation every week and can bring friends and family together. Plus, there’s always food involved (a vote in its favor in my book!).
I’ve lobbied before for finding a way to make Shabbat work for you, and I still contend that, although a lavish, laborious meal can make Shabbat extra special, there is a place at your Shabbat table, particularly in summer, for delicious and easy meals made with love.
Culinarily speaking, there are few additions to otherwise quotidian meals that can elevate them quite so much as a good sauce. Evidence: red wine reduction, Bearnaise, pesto. Make a steak on the grill and it’s good; make a steak on the grill and add a thick, complex red wine reduction and it becomes steakhouse quality. Sauces bring flavors together and intensify them into nuanced, rounded additions to what are normally just-good-enough dishes. One of my favorites, year-round, is a good peanut sauce. It works just as well on tofu as it does on chicken, beef, noodles, or even [gasp!] pork. You can marinate in it, coat a stir-fry, drizzle it, or dip in it — it’s good no matter how you use it. And this one is so quick and easy, there’s really no excuse not to try it. It’s Shabbat, after all — elevate your food! (And I don’t mean “lift your plate”!)
Last week, I used it to top a light salad of lettuce, sliced cucumber, and sauteed tofu slices. I followed it with a simple no-cook pudding parfait for dessert. The meal was exactly what I wanted on a ridiculously hot summer night. Give it a shot and let me know what you think.
A Peanut Sauce for All Occasions
Makes: 4 servings
2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce (regular is fine too though)
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 tsp sriracha sauce (optional)
- In a small, airtight container (like Tupperware), add all ingredients. MAKE SURE THE COVER IS ON TIGHT. You don’t want peanut sauce on everything.
- Shake well until combined. It will be slightly thick, like acrylic paint; add more lime juice or some sesame oil if you like it thinner.
- Enjoy! (Seriously, that’s it. Now go make some!)
Makes: 2 large or 4 small parfaits
One small package instant chocolate pudding
2 C cold milk
1 tub Cool Whip or 1 can Reddi-Whip (you don’t need to use all of it, of course)
1-2 sheets graham crackers per parfait
- Prepare pudding according to directions (whisk pudding mix into 2 C cold milk for 2 minutes; refrigerate 5 minutes).
- In clear glass goblets (or bowls, or martini glasses, etc.), add about 1/4 C pudding, followed by 1/4 C whipped cream, then 1/4 – 1/2 a sheet crumbled graham cracker; repeat until satisfied (roughly 3-4 sets).
- Eat under the beautiful setting sun. Try not to get too much of it on your face while you dig in.