This weekend the Jewish holiday of Shavuot/Shavuos starts immediately after Shabbat. (Skip the next paragraph if you just want the recipes and don’t need or want to know more about it!).

Shavuos is a two-day holiday, beginning at sundown of the 5th of Sivan and lasting until nightfall of the 7th of Sivan (May 19–21, 2018). In Israel it is a one-day holiday, ending at nightfall of the 6th of Sivan. The Torah was given by G‑d to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai on Shavuot more than 3,300 years ago. Every year on the holiday of Shavuot we renew our acceptance of G‑d’s gift, and G‑d “re-gives” the Torah. (Source:

Traditionally, this is a holiday focused on dairy foods for a couple of reasons (see link above for more info). Obviously, I myself don’t do dairy. But I do make parve (non-dairy) cheesecake. I like Veganosity’s recipe for Lemon Berry Cheesecake Bites.

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In addition, the following two recipes would be delicious and healthful additions to your Shavuos meals. These are from the Tasting Jerusalem evening at Beth Sholom last week, where everyone got to taste several dishes and learn from cookbook authors Paula Shoyer and Leah Koenig. Both recipes are printed with permission from the authors.

Israeli Herb Salad

from Paula Shoyer’s latest cookbook, The Healthy Jewish Kitchen (Sterling Epicure)

Serves 6
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes to toast almonds
Advance Prep: May be made 3 days in advance3 cup (40g) slivered almonds
2 large bunches Italian parsley, thick stems removed
1 large bunch dill, stems removed
1 cup (50g) mint leaves
4 scallions, thinly sliced
¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 ½ tablespoons)
1 clove garlic, crushed
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper, or more to taste
1 pint (300g) cherry tomatoes, halved if small or quartered if large

Preheat oven to 325F. Place the almonds on a cookie sheet and toast for 12 to 18 minutes, or until light golden and fragrant. Shake the pan once during baking. Set aside and let cool.

Wash the herbs in batches in a salad spinner and dry very well. Chop the parsley (about 2 ½ cups [125g]) by hand or in a food processor into small, but not tiny, pieces. Even after herbs are chopped, I grab more paper towels to press into them to absorb more moisture. Place with the scallions in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, place the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper and whisk well. Add to the herbs and toss to coat. Add the tomatoes and mix. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Add the almonds right before serving and toss well.

Smoky Sweet Potato Hummus

from Leah Koenig’s latest cookbook, Little Book of Jewish Appetizers (Chronicle Books)

Serve 8
1 large sweet potato (about 1 pound)
1/3 cup tahini
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained (liquid reserved)
1 large clove garlic, roughly chopped
3 tbsp lemon juice (from 1 to 2 lemons), or more to taste
1 ½ tsps. Kosher salt, or more to taste
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Piece the sweet potato in several places with the tip of a sharp knife. Cool until completely tender, 45 to 60 minutes. Remove from heat, carefully cut in half to facilitate cooling, and let cool to the touch.

Remove the sweet potato skin and add flesh to a food processor along with the tahini, 1/3 cup olive oil, drained chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, salt, paprika, and cumin. Puree, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until a paste forms. With the machine running, slowly pour in between ¼ and 1/3 cup of the reserved chickpea liquid and continue pureeing until mixture is smooth and creamy, 2-3 minutes.

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