Cooking for the Nine Days, the period leading up to Tisha B'Av when don't eat any meat, requires some planning. Don’t worry, it’s not nine days of teriyaki salmon (which is delicious by the way, but not all that original). Try different fish varieties that you skip during the year, hearty pastas, lentils, quiche, and chili, and pair them with sweet potatoes, or baked rice to make them filling and extra wholesome. Buy fish fresh and keep it very cold before cooking. Wrap it with plastic wrap, directly on the fish flesh, discarding the styrofoam container that captures excess liquid that can make the fish taste “fishy”. I’m confident these dishes will become part of your year-round cooking.

Asian Tuna Skewers

Serves 4

  • 4 tuna steaks, 8 ounces each, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 16 -20 mini wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
  • 1 cup Sesame Ginger Salad Dressing (Ken’s) or other brand (other Asian salad dressing is an appropriate substitute)
  • 3/4 cup mixed black and white sesame seeds

Place tuna in a resealable bag. Add dressing and marinate for 30 minutes. Remove fish from bag and coat fish in sesame seeds on all sides. . Place two pieces of tuna on each skewer. Heat grill pan. Spray with non-stick cooking spray. Grill tuna for about 2 minutes each side or until seared on the outside and still rare on the inside. Serve with Asian Dipping Sauce.

Asian Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce
  • ¼ - 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
  • 2 scallions, chopped

Mix all ingredients together. Top with chopped scallions.

Vegetarian Chili

Photo by the Ambitious Kitchen

Serves 8

I make this all year round for a hearty vegetarian meal. I serve it atop baked sweet potatoes or white potatoes and use the leftovers in omelettes and quesadillas. It freezes well too. Feel free to add corn or other vegetables of your liking

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper or red pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 (14½-ounce) cans no-salt-added, stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup sour cream, optional
  • Lime juice, cilantro, avocado, tortilla chips, optional, for topping

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add onion, zucchini, and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add water, chili powder, cumin, stewed tomatoes, both beans, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes. Serve warm with sour cream or any toppings of your choice, if desired.

Crustless Spinach and Mushroom Quiche

Serves 6 - 8

Photo by The Stay at Home Chef

Although delicious, the crust on a typical quiche is extremely caloric and high in fat. Also the cheese in quiche makes it rich and flavorful so I don’t miss the crust. This one mixes goat cheese and ricotta (or feel free to use mozzarella) and lots of vegetables. It’s very filling and can be made a day ahead of serving. Definitely serve it warm.

  • 2 ounces goat cheese, cut into little pieces (I use the garlic and herb)
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 ½ cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 large eggs plus 2 egg whites
  • 1 15-ounce container part-skim ricotta cheese (or 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 6 to 8 scallions, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven, place a baking sheet on the rack and preheat to 450°F. Lightly grease a 9-inch round or 8-inch square baking dish.

In a bowl, miix the goat cheese, spinach, mushrooms, eggs, egg whites, ricotta, flour, nutmeg, and scallions.

Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and sprinkle with the parmesan. Place the quiche on the preheated baking sheet and bake until the center is just set, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm.

Savory Lentils with Butternut Squash

Photo by Iain Bagwell; Styling: Emma Star Jensen

Serves 5

Warm Indian flavors make this an ideal recipe that is comforting, filling and full of flavor. It is a fall favorite of mine, but I make it during the 9 days too, as it’s packed with nutrients and a vegetarian main dish. You can cheat in this recipe and use prepared lentils from the bag, made by Gefen. I use about 1 ½ bags and skip the lentil prep.

  • 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large celery stalk, diced
  • 2 small carrots, diced
  • 1 large red onion, half finely chopped, half cut into 1-in. chunks
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons garam masala, divided (spice blend available with hashgacha at national markets and in some kosher markets)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, divided
  • 1 cup green lentils, rinsed
  • About 3 cups vegetable broth
  • About 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 butternut squash (about 2 lbs.), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1- to 1 1/2-in. Chunks
  • 1/2 pound small brussels sprouts, sliced or shredded OR or 2 ½ cups kale
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a 5- to 6-qt. pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add celery, carrots, and chopped onion and cook, stirring often, until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons garam masala and cook, stirring, about 30 seconds. Add thyme and 1 teaspoon mustard; cook 1 minute.

Stir in lentils, 3 cups broth, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until lentils are just tender, about 40 minutes, checking occasionally and adding more broth if needed so they’re covered in liquid.

Meanwhile, in a 9- by 13-in. baking dish, whisk together honey; 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining 4 tablespoons oil, 2 1/2 teaspoon garam masala, and 1 teaspoon mustard. Add squash and toss until well coated. Roast squash for 15 minutes. Stir in onion chunks and brussel sprouts and cook until vegetables are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 15 to 20 more minutes.

Drain any excess liquid from lentils. Stir in orange juice and transfer lentils to a shallow bowl. Spoon roasted vegetables on top, and season to taste with more salt and pepper.

Salmon Burger with Lemon Honey Drizzle Sauce

Serves 4

I use canned, boneless, skinless salmon for these burgers which makes them very affordable. The canned salmon helps the burgers take on a nice burger form. These can be made a day ahead of time and rewarmed too.

For Burgers:

  • 2 teaspoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
  • 1 cup chopped Vidalia onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 4 tablespoons Lemon Honey Mustard, recipe follows
  • 2 (6-1/2-ounce) cans Alaska skinless, boneless pink salmon, drained well
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

Lemon-Honey Mustard:

  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 heaping tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

In a medium bowl, combine, parsley, onions, eggs, panko, dill, black pepper, salt, lemon zest and lemon honey mustard together. Add drained salmon and mix well together. Make 4 patties and set aside.

Heat oil on a large skillet or grill pan over medium heat. Cook burgers until lightly browned, about 4 minutes and flip and cook on the other side, for another 3 - 4 minutes. Serve with additional honey mustard sauce on top.

For the Sauce:

In a small bowl whisk the mustard, honey, orange juice, lemon zest, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Miso Baked Salmon

Serves 4

Miso is an awesome ingredient that is available in national markets with a hecksher. It’s made from soybeans, mixed with rice or barley then fermented. It’s highly flavor enhancing. It’s used in Asian foods and is packed with protein, vitamins and minerals. I use all varieties, white, red and brown, but they are strongest in flavor the darker the color. I use it in salad dressings, mixed in sauces and atop roasted chicken and vegetables. This is definitely an ingredient you should stock in your pantry.

  • ½ cup white miso paste
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine (for the Nine Days use 1 tablespoon lemon juice as a substitute, since we do not drink or use wine this time of year)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 4 (6 ounce) salmon fillets, about 1-inch thick

In a large resealable plastic bag (like a zip-top plastic bag), mix together the miso, wine (lemon juice), sugar and sesame oil.. Mix it well. Add the salmon fillets, and gently mix to coat salmon with sauce. . Marinate for at least 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a sheet pan with foil and brush with a little oil or non-stick cooking spray. Remove fish from the marinade, letting excess drip, and place on the pan skin-side down (if fish has skin).

Cook on middle rack in the oven for 12 minutes (it will not be fully cooked). Remove from the oven and preheat the broiler. Flip fish over and return to the oven, about 4 inches from the broiler, and broil, until miso starts to bubble and brown a bit, about 2 minutes or until fish is cooked through. Note – if fish is browning too much, cover loosely with foil and continue to broil another minute or 2 to cook through.