The last meal consumed before the 24-hour Yom Kippur fast is always an act of logistical ingenuity. It must be nourishing and sustaining, efficiently served but not slapdash. The menu should be chosen with care to avoid excessive salt and spices (which cause thirst), sugar and refined flour (which increase hunger pangs), alcoholic beverages and fried foods (which are hard to digest). An air of refinement should prevail.
All of these guidelines are even more crucial when Yom Kippur begins on a Friday evening, as it does this year. This special Shabbat dinner calls for elegance but should not be as rich or festive as the recent Rosh Hashanah meals.
This pre-fast dinner is consumed with a deadline, as people want to be seated in synagogue before the Kol Nidre service begins at sunset. If possible, allow enough time for the family and friends at your table to eat at a leisurely pace. It’s not only better for digestion, but sets the tone for peaceful contemplation.
In spite of the early hour, this meal should consist of three nicely served courses. Chicken and rice are traditional on erev Yom Kippur. Chicken is a light protein, yet it is filling. Vegetables or salad round out the meal. It is wise to rely on seasonings, such as fruit and fresh herbs, which add flavor without fostering thirst, the way salt does. Ending the meal with a bowl of apples and plums is refreshing and hydrating, yet respectful of the solemn holiday ahead.
Use salt sparingly in these recipes to avoid causing undue thirst on Yom Kippur.
Zucchini Potato Soup
4 zucchini, diced
4 medium-sized potatoes, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 container (32 oz.) low-sodium chicken broth
1⁄2 cup white wine
1 cup water
2 Tbsps. dill, minced
salt to taste
Place all the ingredients in a large pot. Cover and bring to boil. Reduce flame and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft and mushy. Cool to warm.
In 3 to 4 batches, ladle ingredients, including broth, into a blender. Blend at a high speed, until potatoes are pureed. The soup can be made ahead to this point up to three days in advance. If making ahead, refrigerate soup.
When ready, move the soup to a clean pot. Heat on a low flame until warmed through. Serve immediately.
Roasted Lemon Chicken
nonstick vegetable spray
8 whole chicken legs (including the hip or second joint) with skin on
salt to taste
Spray a roasting pan generously with nonstick vegetable spray. Preheat oven to 425˚.
Rinse the chicken under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels.
Cut the lemons into 8 slices. Squeeze one slice of lemon on each of the chicken legs, using one lemon for this purpose. Sprinkle salt evenly on the chicken skin.
Place the chicken legs in the roasting pan, skin side down. Slide 2 lemon slices under each leg. Lay 2 lemon slices on top of each leg.
Place in the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Turn chicken legs every 15 minutes, 3 times in all, for a total of 60 minutes. After turning the legs each time, replace the lemon slices on the top surface. End with the skin side up. Serve immediately.
4-6 Tbsps. olive oil
3⁄4 lb. of your favorite mushrooms, sliced
salt to taste
1 and 1⁄2 cups raw rice
3 and 1⁄3 cups water, or more, if needed
Heat 4 tablespoons of oil on a medium flame in a large pot. Add the mushrooms and sprinkle with salt. Stir constantly for 2 minutes, until the mushrooms wilt and begin giving off their natural liquid.
Add the rice and stir for a minute until well combined. Pour in the water and stir. Cover pot and simmer on a low flame. Stir every few minutes. Add more water, if needed, 1⁄4 cup at a time.
Keep pot covered as rice continues to cook. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until rice is soft but not mushy.
When ready, remove from flame and keep pot covered for 2 minutes. Then serve immediately.
Serves 6 to 8.
1-2 Tbsps. olive oil
3 Tbsps. parsley, minced
kosher salt, if desired
Slice the tomatoes and place on a platter. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with parsley and salt, if using. Can be made an hour ahead and left at room temperature.
Linda Morel is a writer based in New York City. Email her at: [email protected] .