Hurray! Purim is upon us and the joyous month of Adar is underway. I’ve done themed menus for Purim, fun foods, homemade shaloch manot and lots of menus, so make sure to check past Aish.com recipe articles as well as Gourmetkoshercooking.com for lots of ideas and recipes. For the festive meal this year, I’m making some fan favorites below that are easy to prepare and make-ahead-friendly, plus incorporates a little booze (the alcohol boils out upon cooking and is safe for children) in honor of Purim.

Roasted Balsamic and Garlic Chicken

Serves 6

Seriously savory and delicious, this makes your kitchen smell divine. I make it ahead of time and reheat it before serving.

  • About 15 mini red potatoes, cut in half
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 20 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, roughly chopped, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
  • 8 pieces of chicken, about 2 ½ lbs.
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

In a medium-sized bowl, toss the potatoes, red onion, and garlic with the olive oil and half of the rosemary. Season with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Transfer the vegetable mixture to a large baking dish. Place chicken pieces on top of the vegetables. Season the chicken with remaining salt and pepper and top with the remaining rosemary. Bake until the potatoes are fork-tender and the chicken skin is golden and crisp, about 40 minutes.

In a small pot, combine the balsamic vinegar, red wine, and brown sugar and heat over medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half and syrupy. Remove from heat and set aside.

Once the chicken and vegetables have roasted, brush the chicken generously with the balsamic-red wine reduction, and drizzle what remains over the vegetables and mix gently. Return to the oven and cook until glazed, about 15 minutes. Serve warm with pan drippings.

Sweet and Syrupy Drumsticks

Photo by Con Poulos

Serves 4

These are a great additional protein/main dish to have on hand. The recipe can be doubled with no problem and prepared ahead of time and rewarmed. My kids eat them throughout the day on Purim and I often need to make a second batch while I prepare.

  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade or jelly
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 8 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Position the oven rack about 6 inches from the broiler. In a small bowl, combine the marmalade, vinegar, ginger, coriander, and cayenne.

Line a broiler-proof rimmed baking sheet with nonstick foil. Toss the chicken with the oil and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Broil for 6 minutes.

Flip and broil until the skin is crisp and the chicken is nearly cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes more. Brush the chicken with half the jam mixture and broil for 1 minute.

Brush with the remaining jam mixture and broil until the mixture begins to caramelize and the chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes more.

Grilled Israeli Lamb Kebabs

Photo by cookinglsl

Serves 6

Note photo includes mushrooms instead of onions, they can be used interchangeably

This savory combination of lemon, mint, garlic, and lamb is a perfect flavor blend. The colors are vibrant and the mint mayonnaise gives it that extra boost of flavor. Kebabs are well-known to be a Middle Eastern favorite but really stem from Turkish cooking. The kebab that Israelis are familiar with is actually a variation of the kufta kebab, which comes from the Syrian term koofteh, or pounded meat. The Arab influence in the region has inspired some shared dishes. As restaurants and chefs in Israel have become more well-known with a strong influence on cooking trends, their cubed lamb version of kebabs have become popular. Of course, they would top with lots of fresh herbs for a fancy finish.

  • 1 cup canola oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 pounds boneless lamb chunks
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into wedges
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch rounds
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • Metal or wooden skewers, soaked for 30 minutes before use

In a small bowl, whisk oil, onion, garlic, lemon juice, parsley, mint, thyme, salt, and pepper.

Pour 1 cup into a shallow dish; add lamb and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 6-8 hours. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade for basting.

Drain lamb and discard marinade. On eight metal or soaked wooden skewers, alternately thread lamb, red onion, zucchini and cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with a little more oil. Grill, uncovered, over medium-hot heat for 8-10 minutes on each side or until meat reaches desired doneness (for medium-rare, a thermometer should read 135°; medium, 140°; medium-well, 145°), basting frequently with reserved marinade.

Serve with garlic mint mayonnaise.

Garlic Mint Mayonnaise

Makes 1 ½ cups

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

With an immersion blender, puree mayonnaise, lemon juice and zest, mint, garlic, salt, and pepper until smooth.

Jeweled Couscous

Serves 5

Fit for a king or queen this is a stunning dish for Purim. It’s also a quicker version that the traditional jeweled couscous recipes.

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ⅓ cups Israeli couscous
  • ½ cup finely chopped shallot (from about 1 large shallot)
  • 2 ½ cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  • ½ cup . toasted salted pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

In a small saucepan with a lid, heat 3 tablespoons. of the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the couscous and shallot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot is tender and the couscous is lightly toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the broth and salt, stir to combine, and bring to a boil. Leaving the lid ajar, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 12 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat, stir in the raisins, cover, and let stand 5 minutes. Transfer the couscous to a serving bowl and let cool to room temperature. When the couscous has cooled, stir in the mint, pomegranate seeds, pistachios, orange zest, and lemon juice. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil.

Pasta is best prepared the same day it is served. It gets a bit gummy in the refrigerator.

Honey Glazed Brussel Sprouts

Photo by Chelsea Craig

Serves 6

I use frozen brussel sprouts in this recipe. It's a nice alternative to green beans and zucchini that I usually make. The coating is sweet and gets very caramelized in the oven.

  • 2 (12 ounce) bags frozen brussels sprouts, halved
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons margarine
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Place a rimmed baking sheet on the bottom rack of oven; preheat to 450°F. Toss brussels sprouts and oil in a large bowl; season with salt and black pepper.

Remove baking sheet from oven. Using tongs, arrange brussels sprouts cut side down on baking sheet. Roast brussels on the bottom rack until softened and deeply browned, 20–25 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring honey to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until honey is a deep amber color but not burnt (it will be foamy, that’s okay), 3–4 minutes.

Remove from heat and add vinegar, red pepper flakes and margarine and whisk until sauce is smooth (it will bubble up quite aggressively when you add the vinegar before settling). Whisk in another sprinkle of kosher salt and mix for about 3 minutes until slightly thickened. Transfer brussels sprouts to a large bowl. Add glaze and toss to combine. Transfer to a platter and top with lemon zest.

Red Wine Glazed Pears with Chocolate Sauce

Photo by Food and Wine, edible gold leaf is available at cakeworks in NY, check the kosher hecksher before purchasing, can be omitted

Serves 4

Fun, beautiful, and decadent. These are showstoppers for Purim or any holiday. Can be doubled and made a day ahead of time. Rewarm chocolate sauce before serving.

  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • ⅔ cups sugar
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 wide strips of orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 medium Bosc pears, ripe but firm, peeled, stems left intact (about 6 oz. each)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • ⅓ cup non-dairy whipping cream or soymilk

In a 1-1/2-qt. pot with a lid, combine wine, sugar, cinnamon, and zest over medium heat. Bring to a rapid simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add vanilla extract. Slice a tiny piece from the bottom of each pear to make it level. Add the pears to the pot, laying them on their sides half submerged in the liquid. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes. Turn the pears, cover, and simmer until mostly tender when pierced with a toothpick, an additional 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, turn the pears, and let cool, covered, until room temperature, turning once more halfway through cooling time, about 1-1/2 hours.

When the pears have cooled, remove them from the wine. Remove and discard the cinnamon sticks, and zest. Bring the wine to a boil over medium heat, and reduce to 1/2 cup to 1/3 cup, about 5 minutes. The wine should be glossy and syrupy.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the chocolate and heavy cream. Melt chocolate over very low flame, stirring while melting.

To serve: Put each pear on a dessert plate or in a shallow bowl. Spoon about 1 teaspoon. of the wine sauce over the pears. Stir the remaining wine sauce into the chocolate sauce, and spoon some around the bottom of each pear or drizzle over each pear.

Extra Chocolatey Delicious Brownie

Photo by Greg DuPree

Makes about 20

These are terrific alongside the red wine poached pears. They compliment each other so well, but are great on their own too.

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (about 4 1/4 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups dark chocolate chips or chunks, divided
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted margarine, melted
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 13- x 9-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper, leaving 2 inches of overhang on all sides. Lightly coat parchment paper with cooking spray. Sift together flour, cocoa, and salt in a small bowl; set aside.

Melt 1 cup chocolate chips over a double boiler or in the microwave, stirring often, until smooth. Combine sugar, melted margarine, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until frothy and light caramel in color, about 1 minute.

With mixer running on low speed, slowly pour melted chocolate into the egg mixture. Fold in flour mixture until incorporated. Transfer batter to prepared pan, and smooth top. Sprinkle remaining ⅓ cup chocolate chips over top of batter. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs, 18 minutes. Cool brownies in pan for 2 hours before cutting.

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