Skip To Content

Ricotta-Fruit Toast for Shavuot Breakfast

Of all the confounding mysteries of Jewish tradition, why Jews eat dairy foods on the holiday of Shavuot certainly isn’t the biggest or most important. But I have always wondered how Shavuot became the cheese holiday.


It turns out, there are a few different theories about this custom. My favorite is that one of the psalms refers to Mount Sinai as Har Gav’nunim. The name means something like “mountain of great peaks,” but sounds similar to the Hebrew word for cheese, gevinah. For a cheese fiend like me, a block of gouda the size of Mount Sinai offers plenty of reason to celebrate.

Regardless, Ashkenazi Jews tend to go a little wild on the dairy for Shavuot — perhaps making up for the rest of the culinary year, which tends to highlight meat dishes. Traditional Shavuot fare includes cheese blintzes, cheesecake and noodle kugel. More recently in America, other dairy-friendly dishes from beyond the Jewish sphere (like lasagna and quiche) have been added to the canon.

This year, I would like to add breakfast to the Shavuot conversation. The morning meal is, of course, a natural favorite for dairy foods. But for a holiday honoring both the early harvest and God’s revealing of the Torah to the Israelites, a simple bowl of yogurt did not feel quite festive enough.

Inspired by the ruby strawberries showing up at the farmer’s market, and some gorgeous Rainier cherries I found at my local produce shop, I went for simple, fresh and stunning: toast piled with downy ricotta and fresh fruit. Scattered with chopped pistachios and drizzled with honey, it is a breakfast that marks the holiday and welcomes in summer.

Ricotta Toast With Cherries, Strawberries and Pistachios

Serves 1

¼ cup ricotta
¼ teaspoon lemon zest
¼ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon honey, plus more for drizzling
2 slices of sourdough or multigrain bread, toasted
Sliced cherries, sliced strawberries and chopped salted pistachios for topping

1) Stir together the ricotta, lemon zest, vanilla, and 1 tsp honey in a small bowl.

2) Divide the ricotta mixture and spread half on each piece of toasted bread. Top with sliced cherries, strawberries, pistachios, a drizzle of additional honey.

Leah Koenig is a contributing editor at the Forward and author of “Modern Jewish Cooking: Recipes & Customs for Today’s Kitchen,” Chronicle Books (2015).

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.