For Jews, Shavuot brings with it centuries of food traditions. The holiday, which begins at sundown on May 19, celebrates the spring harvest with a menu of fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy foods.
Blintzes are the most popular dish served during Shavuot. They might be served as appetizers with yogurt and fresh fruit during brunch or a special breakfast. They also make a satisfying main course for the Shavuot evening meals. Spring vegetables, such as zucchini, spinach, asparagus, mushrooms and peppers make a delicious filling, or there's the traditional cheese mixture. Blintzes can also be baked as a casserole and served with a green salad or fresh vegetable soup for a complete dinner.
In the recipes that follow, the ingredients have been adjusted to accommodate low-fat, low-cholesterol and low-calorie diets. The blintz batters, for instance, use only half the usual egg amounts, combined with nonfat or low-fat milk. A non-stick skillet cuts down on the use of fat or oil and often can eliminate it entirely.
You can reduce the fat content in fillings by using dry hoop cheese or low-fat cottage cheese. Experiment with favorite fresh herbs and spices to add variety to both blintz batters and fillings. I've developed a batter recipe that includes a puree of fresh spinach.
For a family Shavuot celebration, plan a brunch or lunch and make several kinds of blintzes. Prepare two or three different fillings and let guests select their own combinations. Serve a variety of low-calorie toppings, such as fruit-flavored yogurts and the new low-calorie jams, along with fresh fruits and berries.
SAVORY SPINACH BLINTZES
1 cup tightly packed, well-rinsed and stemmed fresh spinach
1 to 1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
3/4 cup flour
1 egg white
Freshly ground pepper
Place spinach in saucepan with little water and cook until tender. Drain, cool and squeeze, extracting all liquid. Transfer to blender or food processor. Add 1 cup nonfat milk and blend until smooth. Add flour, whole egg, egg white, salt and pepper to taste and blend until smooth. Blend in 2 tablespoons oil. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour. Add some remaining milk if batter is too thick.
Brush 7-inch non-stick skillet with oil and warm over medium heat. Pour in 1/8 cup batter and quickly tilt pan to spread batter evenly. Fry until light brown around edges and top is cooked through. Repeat with remaining batter, adding oil as needed, to make about 14 blintzes.
Place 2 tablespoons Vegetable Filling across center of each blintz and roll up tightly. Place, seam-side down, in lightly oiled 12x9-inch baking dish. Top with Cheese Sauce. Bake at 350 degrees 20 minutes or until hot and bubbling. Makes 14 blintzes.
2 tablespoons oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 cup diced mushrooms
3 unpeeled zucchini, diced
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Heat oil in non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add and saute garlic, onion, green pepper and mushrooms 5 minutes. Add zucchini and saute 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes, basil, oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Makes about 2 cups.
6 tablespoons unsalted margarine
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups hot low-fat milk
1/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Melt margarine in heavy saucepan over medium heat. When foamy, stir in flour all at once and cook gently few minutes without letting flour brown. Remove pan from heat and gradually pour in hot milk, stirring constantly with wire whisk.
Return pan to heat. Stir in cheeses and mustard. Season to taste with salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is moderately thick. Makes about 3 cups.
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar, optional
3 egg whites
1 1/4 cups low-fat milk
3 tablespoons oil, about
Cottage Cheese Filling
2 tablespoons unsalted margarine
Mix together flour, sugar and salt in bowl of electric mixer. Beat together egg whites, milk and 2 tablespoons oil in separate bowl and stir into flour mixture, beating until smooth.
Brush 7-inch non-stick skillet with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Warm over medium heat. Pour in 1/8 cup batter and quickly tilt pan to spread batter evenly. Fry until light brown around edges and top is cooked through. Turn out onto towel. Repeat with remaining batter, adding oil as needed.
Fill brown side of each blintz with Cottage Cheese Filling and fold, tucking ends in. Melt margarine in large non-stick skillet and brown blintzes lightly on both sides, 2 or 3 minutes. Makes 6 servings.
Cottage Cheese Filling
2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat together cottage cheese, egg, sugar and vanilla in bowl until mixture is smooth. Makes 2 cups.
3/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup nonfat milk
1 egg white