I love making delicious dairy recipes for Shavuot. Spring seasonal minestrone soup is a wonderful, light soup to start off a dairy meal. The two salads include spring seasonal ingredients and a nice salty cheese to contrast the flavors. An easy make-ahead salmon that is a spin on a classic and finally, a fantastic kid and adult friendly adorable dessert.

Spring Minestrone Soup with Parmesan Cheese

Serves 6

This wonderfully fresh soup is full of spring vegetables including leeks, carrots, asparagus, fresh herbs, and spring onions. Feel free to substitute whatever is fresh at your farmers market this spring too. Look for locally grown, artisanal varieties of your favorite vegetables. These fresh vegetables will add bold flavor to the soup.

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 leeks, white parts, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1/3 pound green beans or asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 6 cups pareve (vegetarian) chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1 15-ounce can low-sodium kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup elbow pasta
  • 1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoons sliced spring onions or scallions

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add leeks and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add celery and carrot and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the green beans, dried oregano and basil, salt, and pepper and cook 3 more minutes.

Add the diced and crushed tomatoes and vegetable broth to the soup and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in kidney beans and pasta and cook until the pasta and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and top with the parmesan, chopped basil, and spring onions.

Arugula and Watermelon Salad with Feta & Mint

Photo by Ina Garten

Serves 6

This salad is an incredible burst of sweet, salty, herby, and zesty ingredients. The colors are sensational, pink, green and green. I’ve seen many varieties of this salad, but I like my combination that adds mint and jicama. Goat cheese works well too but the salty feta is a wonderful with sweet summer watermelon.

  • 3 cups watermelon cubes, cut into ½ inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • ½ cup loosely packed cup fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups arugula
  • ½ cup diced or julienned jicama
  • 3 ounces feta cheese, drained and crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Pour off any juice that has gathered around the watermelon. Toss gently with the rice vinegar and mint. Set aside.

On a platter or in a salad bowl, mix arugula, jicama and feta.

Make dressing: In a small bowl, whisk balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Drizzle in olive oil and mix until emulsified.

Add watermelon and dressing to salad. Toss and serve immediately.

Mixed Green Salad with Goat Cheese Pockets

Photo by foodnetwork, photo includes edible flowers, not included in recipe below

Serves 6

The warm breaded goat cheese salad has been popular for years. This is the new updated version of a mixed green salad with goat cheese but instead of breaded rounds, I make puff pastry triangles. The triangles can also be served alongside a nice fish appetizer with store-bought chutney or fruit jam.

Puff Pastry Goat Cheese Triangles:

  • 8 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature (use the garlic and chive if you can get it)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped basil
  • ½ teaspoon chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 8 sheets phyllo dough (keep damp cloth over dough while waiting to use)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Coarse sea salt

Salad:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups mixed wild greens like frisee, mesclun, or other artisanal lettuce
  • 3 cups baby arugula

For the puff pastry goat cheese triangles: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix goat cheese, basil, garlic, chives, lemon and salt until smooth and blended.

Lay one sheet of phyllo flat in front of you. Brush it gently with some of the oil. Lay another piece of phyllo on top and brush gently with more oil. Continue two more times to have 4 sheets of phyllo. Cut the dough into 5 equal strips. Scoop a tablespoon of the goat cheese mixture onto one end of a strip. Bring a corner up and over the cheese to line up the bottom edge with the right edge of the phyllo forming a triangle. Continue to do this, folding the phyllo like flag, until you have a little triangle goat cheese package. Continue with the remaining strips and repeat the process with remaining sheets of phyllo. Place the triangles on the prepared pan and brush the tops with more oil. Sprinkle the tops with a pinch of sea salt. Bake until golden brown and crispy, about 12 minutes.

For the salad: Whisk together the oil, lemon juice, Dijon and salt in a large bowl. Add the greens and toss gently to coat. Pile the salad on a platter and place the goat cheese packs around the salad.

Salmon with Pistachio Pesto

Photo by Rachael Ray mag

Serves 4, can be doubled

Salmon can also be broiled, roasted, grilled or poached in this recipe and can be made pareve (omit the cheese) or dairy. Serve it warm or at room temperature. I love the salty, richness of the pistachios and often combine parsley and cilantro instead of using all parsley. The pesto can be made a few days ahead of time and keeps well in the refrigerator.

Make ahead: Can be made a day ahead of time and re-warmed or served at room temperature.

  • 1 large bunch flat-leaf parsley, stems removed
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, optional
  • 1/4 cup shelled pistachios, lightly toasted
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 4 (7 ounce) pieces salmon fillet

In a food processor, pulse the parsley, cheese, pistachios, 4 tablespoons lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper until finely chopped. With the machine running, stream in the olive oil and process until a finely ground pesto forms.

Season the fish with a little salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil until hot. Add the fish and cook until browned on both sides and almost opaque but still a bit pink at the center, about 6 minutes. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice.

Serve salmon with pistachio pesto.

S’mores Parfaits

Photo by thekitchn

Makes 8 - 10 (4 ounce cups) or 6 (6 ounce cups)

These are adorable, make-ahead friendly, and super yummy. If possible, use a kitchen torch to brown marshmallows or brown them over an open flame or under the broiler, carefully. These can be made pareve with pareve whipping cream and pareve chocolate pudding or dairy with real whipping cream and milk in the pudding.

  • 3/4 cup marshmallow creme or marshmallow fluff
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chilled heavy cream or pareve whipping cream
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup crushed graham crackers, plus 1 graham cracker sheet, broken into rectangles, for garnish
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate pudding (prepared according to package instructions)
  • 6 - 8 marshmallows
  • 6 - 8 rectangles from a 1.55-ounce chocolate bar (about ½ inch by 3 inches)

Equipment: wooden skewers soaked in water for 30 minutes

For the marshmallow cream layer: Put the marshmallow creme, 2 tablespoons of the heavy cream and vanilla in a large chilled bowl. With an electric mixer, beat until the creme is loosened, smooth and shiny. Add the remaining 1/2 cup heavy cream to the bowl and whip to medium peaks, starting on low and then changing to medium speed. Beat until soft peaks.

Put 1 tablespoons of crushed graham crackers in the bottom of each of the 8 (4 ounce) plastic cups or glass dishes. Top with 1 ½ tablespoons marshmallow mixture, then 1 ½ tablespoons chocolate pudding. Repeat so you have another layer of each ingredient. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, place the marshmallows on skewers. Toast the marshmallows over a hot grill (or on the stove top) or under the broiler. Alternatively, use a kitchen torch and brown all over.

Place a toasted marshmallow on top of each s'mores cup. Garnish each with a piece of chocolate bar and graham cracker.