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A $25 Shabbat menu for struggling families | #TweetYourShabbat

Across America, families are struggling to get Shabbat on the table.

Over 40 million Americans have lost their jobs. Some 1.5 million Americans have filed for unemployment weekly for the past 3 weeks. The global economy has been battered by the Coronavirus pandemic, with some predicting it will take the U.S. economy a decade to recover. While there are signs of the beginning of a recovery, with the U.S. economy adding 4.8 million jobs in June, there is no denying that we are in a recession.

Many parents are making do with less money and even less time – especially given that they cannot access childcare. These stressors can tear at the fabric of families: economic pressure, domestic responsibilities piling up, the consistent drumbeat of work, and undercurrent of deep fear and loss while living through a pandemic. You could be forgiven for wanting the pressure and cost of a beautiful Shabbat off your plate.

It’s my job to help you find joy in Shabbat, to be a friend in the kitchen who helps you get it on the table, and hopefully, find that the strain and tension of the week ease as you cook and gather to eat.

Ahad Ha’am wrote that it is not just the Jews that kept Shabbat, but Shabbat has kept the Jews. Shabbat also keeps families. It keeps my family, it is often the only dinner we have together all week, between adult work schedules and small children’s early bedtimes. I know that in hard times, full of pain and uncertainty, our ritual connection to who we are at the root, to our ancestors, and to God, is key to surviving and thriving.

That’s why this week I decided to create a $25 Shabbat. A delicious main, a side and a dessert that will take less than two hours. Bucatini with slow-roasted garlic and tomatoes topped with fresh basil and parmesan cheese. Broccolini which I will simply toss with the lemon, a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and serve raw, a bitter and refreshing note to a rich pasta. Bright and refreshing lemon sorbet with raspberry sauce for dessert.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to enjoy Shabbat without needing to budget, consider making it a $25 dollar Shabbat anyway. Donate the rest as Shabbat tzedakah, or charity, this week. Spend the extra money in a way that helps our community, like donating to your synagogue, your favorite Jewish press( ahem, like The Forward), or to Mazon, a Jewish response to hunger.

Shabbat keeps families, but right now, we should embrace keeping it simple. Shabbat doesn’t have to look like your Bubbie’s table. It doesn’t need to have expensive cuts of kosher meat or require hours of labor. Let’s keep Shabbat this week, but keep it simple.


A note on the budget. I wanted this to be simple, accessible, and pandemic appropriate, so I had everything delivered from a national grocery chain. My total grocery order was $25. I didn’t include three pantry items I assume you already own: olive oil, salt, and sugar. For accountability sake, here is the full shopping list with prices:

1 quart grape tomatoes: $4.39
2 heads garlic: $1.29
fresh basil $1.49
Shredded Parmesan: 3.49
Lemon sorbet: $4.09
Frozen raspberries: $2.89
1 lemon: $ 0.79
broccolini: $4.59
16 oz box bucatini: $1.49

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote that it is not just the Jews that kept Shabbat, but Shabbat has kept the Jews.


Slow-Roasted Garlic and Grape Tomato Bucatini

Roasted garlic is the true hero of this dish, for $1.29 you get depth and richness. Tomatoes add sweetness and acidity. The dish comes together with strong notes of garlic, bright tomatoes, and richness from cheese. It silenced my preschooler for a full 10 minutes – that’s how good it tastes.

1 quart grape tomatoes
1 16 ounce box of bucatini
2 whole heads arlic, sliced lengthwise with a serrated knife
½ cup olive oil
Salt to taste
Fresh basil
Shredded parmesan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Take a quart of fresh grape tomatoes and rinse well. I like to keep them in their little containers while I do it, because they always have holes in them and it makes one less dish. Also, grape or cherry tomatoes, any small tomato really, are better than larger tomatoes when you are on a budget. They tend to be sweeter and are a great alternative to fancy heirloom tomatoes.

Cut the two heads of garlic lengthwise. Try to keep the head of garlic intact, but don’t stress if a few bulbs fall off.

Wash and stem the basil. Keep those stems!! If you have a successful garden and access to free herbs, thyme or rosemary would be a lovely addition.

Place the whole tomatoes, basil stems, and halved garlic in a glass bowl. Please, not metal. It will be reactive and mess up our beautiful tomatoes. It’s got to be glass or ceramic. Drizzle about a tablespoon of oil on each of the garlic halves and turn them face down. Drizzle the rest of the oil on the tomatoes and sprinkle salt, not too much, about ½ a teaspoon.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. You want golden, melty garlic and soft to the touch, nearly exploded grape tomatoes.

Spend that time waiting doing something nice for yourself. Maybe pour a glass of wine and listen to Andre Bocelli. Pretend you are in Italy. Definitely don’t do the dishes.

Once you’ve removed the garlic and tomatoes, boil water for bucatini, add about ¼ cup of salt. Cook bucatini until al dente and reserve ½ cup of pasta water.

While the pasta cooks, carefully remove the garlic from the peel, using a fork or a teaspoon. Smash three of the 4 garlic halves with a fork. Leave the rest whole. The smashing should be very easy, otherwise your garlic is undercooked. Remove any herb stems.

Pour tomatoes and garlic into a large frying pan or saucepan. Sprinkle it with more salt, heat on low and add reserved pasta water. Stir gently for a few minutes to combine. Add pasta and ¼ cup of parmesan, stir until pasta is coated with rich, garlicky, cheesy sauce. Just before serving garnish with torn basil and toss. Serve with remaining parmesan cheese.

Lemon Sorbet and Raspberry Sauce

It’s summer and I am hot. Summer Camp is canceled and there is no child care. I already made you turn on the oven once and its 96 degrees in D.C. It’s ice cream time! Homemade sauce makes you feel like you made something while ice cream does a lot of the work. The recipe calls for frozen raspberries because of our budget, but feel free to use fresh. My family loves tart things, and this recipe is very tart and bright and fresh. Seriously, my three year old will gladly nibble on a lemon. If your family isn’t so into tart, switch out lemon sorbet for chocolate gelato!

2 ½ cups Raspberry
1 cup sugar
½ cup of water

Dump ingredients into a pot. Bring to a boil. Lower to low, stir regularly. When viscous and thick like jam, puree until smooth. This breaks all the little seeds without the fuss of cheesecloth.

When serving, place at the bottom of the bowl and then swirl a fork throughout to make it pretty. Or just let the horde of hot kids devour it all with a spoon. If you happen to have gin on hand, pouring a shot over the top is a nice way to end a meal.

Broccolini with Lemon and Olive Oil

This broccolini is bitter and citrusy, a nice balance with the heavy pasta.

1 bunch of broccolini (sometimes sold as baby broccoli)
Juice of one lemon
3 tablespoons of olive oil

Wash broccolini and place in a glass or ceramic bowl. Add lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Toss to coat. Allow to sit for about 20 minutes at room temperature for a flavorful bright side dish. The lemon juice softens the Broccolini while still leaving crunch.

Ed. Note: The quote from Ahad Ha’am was mistakenly attributed in a previous version to Abraham Joshua Heschel.

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