There’s little not to like about these Jewish casseroles, usually served on Shabbat and holidays.Potato kugelis basically a giant, baked tater tot, while sweet noodle kugels will make you feel like you’re eating dessert during the main course (as they should — they usually use a lot of sugar). Feel free to have fun with these by adding cinnamon and raisins to a noodle kugel, or using sweet potatoes instead of regular
2. Matzo Ball Soup
There are few foods as perfect as these delicious little carbohydrate balls drenched in chicken soup. Matzo ball purists swear by the importance of schmaltz, aka chicken fat, in making the balls, but non-meat eaters (and less intense cooks) can definitely get by without it. Whatever you do, just don’t buy it in a jar off the shelf in the supermarket. (Gondi, the Persian chicken and chickpea balls, are often compared to matzo balls and duh, they’re also delicious.)
3. Potato Latkes
Kids think Hanukkah is all about the presents, but grown-ups know it’s really about the latkes. These little potato pancakes are fried in tons of oil to commemorate (one of) the ancient Hanukkah miracles. The story goes like this: After the Jews won their rebellion against their Syrian rulers in 164 BCE, they found their holy temple had been desecrated. They had only enough untainted olive oil to light the menorah for a single day, but miraculously, the candles stayed lit for eight days, giving them time to restock their supply. So in honor of that oil, Jews deep fry. Serve with applesauce, sour cream, or Thanksgivukkah-inspired cranberry applesauce.
4. Chocolate Rugelach
If you have ever been to Jerusalem, you hopefully stopped at Marzipan Bakeryto try what are hands down the absolute best chocolate rugelach in the entire universe. If not, good news: You can make these gooey, mini-croissant-like pastries at home. The trick is the dough, which usually has cream cheese or yogurt in it. Try making these classic chocolate rugelach, or if you’re feeling really wild, put the chocolate in the dough and then add even more fillings, with this recipe. And you can always make special pecan pie rugelach for a Jewish Thanksgiving.
5. Cholent “the original slow-cooked dish”
Has its origins in the prohibition of working — and cooking — on the Jewish Sabbath. In pursuit of a hot lunch on Saturday, a slow-cooked dish was born: One could start the cooking before sundown on Friday and enjoy the food Saturday at lunch. While many people think of cholent as an Eastern European dish, it actually traces its origins back to the Middle East, through North Africa and into Spain. The result is that there are many, many kinds of cholents, including the Iraqi Tbit, made with chicken, Moroccan lamb stew, and a beef, vegetables, and bean version from Budapest. Sometimes a super-simple family recipe, though, is all you need. And good news for vegetarians: There are plenty of meat-free versions too.