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Recipes for a Purim Celebration: Lentil Salad, Lentil Soup, Traditional Cookie Dough Hamantashen and Hamantashen for Kids

Purim is coming and we are busily trying to find the most creative costume to win that ever-elusive costume contest at our synagogue. Batman, Power Rangers and Haman are out of the running this year. We may go for a Jewish alien.

In any event, hamantashen are definitely on the horizon and so are some healthful meals made with lentils. Why lentils? Legend has it that Esther only ate seeds and legumes to insure that she was keeping strictly kosher. During Purim, in honor of Esther, we reflect her dietary habits and eat dishes made of this healthful legume. Besides the scrumptious, family-involving hamantashen recipes, I hope you try a new lentil recipe to honor the holiday of Purim and the remarkable queen who is so central to it.
Also, lentils are also part of a Mediterranean diet that is heart-healthy.

Lentil Salad (Pareve)
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes

1 pound dried lentils washed and picked over. Use brown and/or red.
1 large onion, cut in half
3 large garlic cloves, cut in half
1 bay leaf
2 tsp. Kosher salt

1/4 cup red wine or garlic wine vinegar
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
pinch salt and pepper
2-1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, chives, scallions, tarragon, rosemary
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Place the lentils, onions, garlic and bay leaf in a saucepan with enough water to cover the lentils about an inch. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer for about 30 minutes. Add salt and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Do not let lentils get mushy.
Strain lentils, reserving the cooking liquid and place the lentils in a large bowl. Discard the onion, garlic and bay leaf. Add more salt if needed.

To make the dressing, mix the vinegar, garlic, and mustard together. Add the salt and pepper and drizzle in the olive oil and about 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking liquid. Add to the lentils. Add the fresh herbs and mix well. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Lentil Soup (Pareve or Dairy)
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 45-60 minutes

2 quarts water
1 pound dried mixed lentils (red, brown, etc.)
2 large onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 fresh tomatoes , peeled, seeded and quartered OR
1 small can diced tomatoes, drained
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
3 ribs celery, diced
1-1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

In a large pot, bring the water to a boil. Add all the ingredients and boil for 15 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes more.

VARIATIONS: Add cooked rice or macaroni.
Just before serving, add some freshly made, large toasted croutons, and sprinkle some parmesian cheese over the top.

Traditional Cookie Dough Hamantashen (Dairy or Pareve)
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Baking Time: 18-25 minutes

1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 stick unsalted butter or margarine
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup orange juice or milk
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
about 4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2-12 tsp. baking powder
Golden Egg Wash (recipe below)
Fillings: cherry, apricot, prune, poppy, raspberry, etc.

Cream the butter, shortening and sugar. Add the eggs and mix until smooth. Add the orange juice or milk and vanilla.
Fold in the flour, salt and baking powder. Mix to make a firm, smooth dough. Turn the dough out on a floured surface, cover and let it rest for about ten minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment.

Divide the dough into two parts and roll out one to about a 1/8 inch thickness. Cut rounds about 3 inches in diameter and roll up the scraps. Brush with the egg wash. Add a spoonful of filling in the center of each round and pinch the sides up to make a three-cornered pastry. Either close over the filling completely or leave a little opening to make filling identification easier. Brush the pastries with egg wash if desired and sprinkle with sugar, also optional. Bake until brown, about 18-25 minutes, depending on your oven.

GOLDEN EGG WASH: Mix one egg and one egg yolk with 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk or water and a pinch of sugar. Sprinkle sugar over wash, if desired.

Adapted from A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking, by Marcy Goldman, Doubleday (ISBN: 0-385-47933-6).

Hamantashen for Kids (Pareve)
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Baking Time: 15-20 minutes

These hamantashen are very easy to make and very forgiving of lots of handling. Make sure the edges are pinched almost completely closed to avoid spreading. A great first treat for kids to make.

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Mix the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. Mix the eggs, vanilla and oil in another bowl. Combine the mixtures in the larger of the two bowls and mix well. Let the dough rest for about 5 minutes.

Roll out the dough about 1/3 inch thick. Use a plastic cup to make circles about 3-4 inches in diameter. Add a spoonful of your favorite filling in the center of each round. Fold up the sides to make a three-cornered “hat.” Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Happy Purim!

Joni Schockett

Joni Schockett is a freelance food writer.