With summer and the soaring temperatures already in full swing, I wanted to share a few recipes that will also double as great options for Shavuot. During Shavuot, it is customary to eat dairy, and throughout the world, you will see many different dishes from cheese blintzes and burekas to cheesecake and pizza. Here are three global recipes, each one using a different type of cheese, from a Middle Eastern eggplant dish to a Southern Mediterranean melon salad and finally a popular Mexican street food dish. Enjoy!

Roasted Eggplant Stuffed with Warm Quinoa Salad 

Eggplant is one of the most under-utilized vegetables (technically it is a fruit), but is one of the most diverse foods you can cook with. The key is to make sure the eggplant you buy is at its peak; look for firm, heavy eggplants that don’t have any bruises. If you want to serve a vegan meal, simply remove the feta cheese at the end.

Tahini sauce:

1/3 cup tahini paste

1/3 cup water

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Quinoa salad:

1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

1 yellow onion, small dice

1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 can chickpeas, drained

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/4 cup raisins

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. oil

Eggplant:

2 eggplants, cut in half lengthwise 

8 Tbsp. olive oil

kosher salt

4 Tbsp. parsley, chopped

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Score the eggplant on the flesh side and then drizzle liberally with olive oil all over, then season with salt and place onto a sheet pan. Bake in the oven for about 30-40 minutes, flipping the eggplant over halfway through.

2. In the meantime, make the tahini sauce by combining all the ingredients. Taste for seasoning, adjusting if necessary.

3. For the quinoa, place the water and quinoa into a pot and bring to a boil, then down to a light simmer. Cover and cook at the simmer for 15 minutes.  

4. While the quinoa is cooking, heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onion and garlic. Season with salt and cook for about 15 minutes on low to medium heat. Add the balsamic and continue to cook until all the vinegar evaporates.

5. Add the onions, chickpeas, raisins and 1 teaspoon of salt and fold in gently into the quinoa.

6. To plate the dish, drizzle most of the tahini sauce over the eggplant and top with the quinoa salad. Drizzle more tahini on top, garnish with the parsley and feta cheese.


Grilled Halloumi and Watermelon Salad

There are only a few ingredients in this dish, so the key is to really use the best ingredients – a fruity olive oil and fresh, sweet and juicy watermelon are key. Halloumi is very popular in the southern Mediterranean, where you will find it in many different dishes. Note: This dish must be eaten right away, otherwise the cheese will harden.

1/2 small watermelon, cut into triangles (you want about 2 triangles per person)

1  8- to 9-ounce halloumi cheese square, cut into 1/3" slices

Mint, torn

Pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil

1. Set the grill to medium heat (you can use an indoor or outdoor grill). Brush with oil.

2. Place the watermelon on your serving platter. 

3. Season the halloumi with oil and pepper. Grill for about 90 seconds per side, removing once the cheese is starting to melt.  

4. Place the cheese right over the watermelon, garnish with torn mint and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.


Elote (Grilled Mexican Street Corn)

This is one of the ultimate street food snacks, and with corn coming into season, now is the perfect time to make this at home. If you can’t find cotija cheese, which most markets have now, substitute feta. This is a simple and fun recipe and will leave your family and friends wanting to know the secret. 

Sauce:

8 ounces sour cream

8 ounces mayonnaise

1 lime, juiced

4 ounces cotija cheese, grated fine

2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped

Corn:

8 cobs of corn, husked

Oil spray 

Kosher salt

Garnish options:

Chopped cilantro

Cotija cheese, grated fine

Limes

Chili powder

1. For the sauce, mix everything together. Hold in the fridge.

2. Set a grill to medium-high heat. 

3. Spray corn with oil and season with salt.

4. Grill corn on all sides until lightly charred all the way around. Remove and rub the sauce all over the corn.  

5. Platter up the corn and now you can garnish with any of the options. I love cilantro, chili powder and a little more grated cotija.

Nathan Hirsch is the Arizona executive chef for Whole Foods Market, the leading natural and organic food retailer, with seven stores in Arizona. For store locations, visit wholefoodsmarket.com.

 

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