3 Ingredient Creamy Tomato Sauce

Spaghetti with Creamy Tomato Sauce

I came up with this recipe because I was tired of paying $15 for two servings of creamy tomato pasta takeout. It’s easy, quick, and in my opinion better than the takeout. The secret ingredient that adds all the flavor is harissa, a North African pepper paste. Many different varieties are available and some are spicier than others. Add a little at a time until you get the heat and flavor you prefer. I get my harissa from Le Market in Valley Village. It’s made fresh regularly. Just ask for it at the counter. It’s definitely worth getting because it adds tons of flavor to any savory dish.

Reasons why this sauce is the best:
1) Its only 3 ingredients! (No, I’m not counting the salt and pepper.)
2) It comes together in less than 15 minutes! Because its summer and less time in the kitchen is better for everyone.
3) It’s so tasty you might want to consider serving it as a creamy tomato soup or just put it in a ball jar and call it a creamy tomato smoothly. Go ahead, you have my blessing. I won’t judge you. It’s THAT GOOD! (If you are going to serve it as a soup don’t forget to top it with these super delicious multi-grain croutons! Yummy!
4) Everyone in my family enjoys this sauce. I can count on one hand the number of recipes that this is true for. One recipe, serving my whole family, WIN WIN!

*This is NOT a sponsored post. I am not being compensated in any way for references made to specific products or brands. All opinions are my own.

3 Ingredient Creamy Tomato Sauce

Prep Time2 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: creamy sauce, easy sauce, pasta sauce, spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hana Itzhaki

Ingredients

  • 1 jar Marinara Sauce
  • 1 8 oz. container heavy whipping cream
  • 1-2 tablespoons Harissa
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Put marinara sauce, cream and harissa into a medium sauce pot over medium low heat and whisk to combine.
  • Cover and simmer on low for 8-10 minutes but do not boil.
  • Serve with pasta and/or vegetable noodles and grated Parmesan cheese.

Anti Pasto Salad

The best salads don’t require a lot of prep but still deliver a variety of flavors and textures. My mother made this side salad for our intimate family 4th of July barbecue. It pared perfectly with grilled kabab and chicken thighs that we stuffed into pita and dressed with prepared tahina and matbucha. Anit pasto refers to the appetizer platter of vegetables, olives, cured meats and sometimes cheeses before a formal Italian meal. I’ve left this recipe parve and provided a list of suggested mix-ins to make it either meat or dairy.

In this take on anti pasto, other than the greens and the cucumbers, all of the ingredients come from either a jar or a can and require very minimal prep. The dressing comes from the vegetable marinades plus a little vinegar and some simple seasoning. It really doesn’t get any easier than that.

There are a myriad of options that can be added or swapped for other ingredients. If you are planning on serving it with a dairy meal, go ahead and add in some crumbled feta (my favorite way to eat it for lunch), or shaved Parmesan cheese. Make it a main course salad by adding grilled boneless, skinless chicken or as a hearty side with cubed dried salami and smoked turkey.

The measurements are for approximately four people for a side salad. Use your personal preference to double or triple or just finish what’s left in the jar or can depending on how big you want the salad to be and what ratio of greens to preserved vegetables you want. The amounts used for the dressing are more than what is necessary for one salad. If you are using a hearty lettuce like Romain or Kale, you can layer all of the salad ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate it up to a day in advance. Just wait to add the salt and pepper and dressing until you are ready to serve it.

Anti Pasto Salad

In this take on anti pasto, other than the greens and the cucumbers, all of the ingredients come from either a jar or a can and require very minimal chopping. The dressing comes from the vegetable marinades plus a little vinegar and the seasoning is simply salt and pepper. It really doesn’t get any easier than that.
Prep Time20 mins
Course: Appetizer, Salad
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: antipasto, appetizer, salad, vegetarian
Servings: 4 People
Author: Hana Itzhaki

Ingredients

  • 5 ounce bag Romain Lettuce or Leafy Greens of Choice
  • 1 Persian Cucumber chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 Roasted Red Bell Pepper from a jar chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata Olives
  • 1/2 cup Sun-dried Tomatoes packed in oil
  • 1/2 cup Marinated Artichokes
  • 1/2 Chickpeas from a can, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup Sun-dried Tomato Oil
  • 1/2 cup Artichoke Marinade
  • 1/2 cup White Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Chili flakes

Optional

  • Feta Cheese
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Grilled Chicken
  • Capers
  • Marinated Mushrooms
  • Grilled Eggplant
  • Deli Meat cubed
  • Fresh Parsley

Instructions

  • Wash, dry and check lettuce. Place in a large serving bowl.
  • Add the cucumber, bell peppers, olives, tomatoes, artichokes and chickpeas.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
  • Mix all dressing ingredients together in a jar and shake to combine. Dress the salad with 1/4 cup of dressing. Reserve the remaining amount for a future salad or to use as a marinade. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Notes

There are a myriad of mix-ins that can be added or swapped for other ingredients. If you are planning on serving it with a dairy meal, go ahead and add in some crumbled feta or shaved Parmesan cheese. Make it a main corse salad by adding grilled boneless, skinless chicken or as a hearty side with cubed dried salami and smoked turkey.
The measurements are for approximately four people for a side salad. Use your personal preference to double or triple or just finish what’s left in the jar or can depending on how big you want the salad to be and what ratio of greens to preserved vegetables you want. The amounts used for the dressing are more than what is necessary for one salad. If you are using a hearty lettuce like Romain or Kale, you can layer all of the salad ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate it up to a day in advance. Just wait to add the salt and pepper and dressing until you are ready to serve it.

Summer Vegetable Cacio e Pepe

Summer Vegetable Cacio e Pepe

It’s the middle of summer and that means two things: 1) I don’t really want to cook, and 2) produce is at its peek. Tomatoes are the sweetest they are going to be all year. The squash are ginormous! I’m eating peaches, plums, berries and watermelon any chance I get just to keep them from over ripening. Not that I’m complaining. These are all good things that will pass too quickly.

Thankfully, because the produce is SO good right now you don’t need to do a lot to it to make it into an amazing meal. Less is definitely more here folks.

In Rome, Cheese (cacio) and Pepper (pepe) are the two magical ingredients and turn ordinary spaghetti into a rich and delicious dish. I’ve married the beautiful summer produce with this classic Italian pasta to create the ultimate, barely have to cook, summer meal.

There are a plethora of techniques for incorporating the cheese into the noodles. (Google it if you are interested.) The truth is that cheese doesn’t mix well into even the starchiest pasta water. So in this recipe I didn’t even try. I’m keeping the cooking to an absolute minimum here and letting all the magic happen on the plate and in your mouth which is where it should be.

And even though the days are so long and it feels like summer is never going to end, before you know it the farmer’s market peaches and plums are going to be replaced with apples and pears and the zucchini and yellow squash with pumpkins and gourds. So get to it and enjoy!

Summer Vegetable Cacio e Pepe

Beautiful produce combined with this classic Italian pasta dish to create the ultimate, barely have to cook, summer meal.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: cheese, Parmesan, pasta, summer cooking
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hana Itzhaki

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. Spaghetti
  • 3/4 teaspoon Salt divided
  • 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 8 ounces Grape Tomatoes
  • 1 medium Zucchini
  • 1 medium Yellow Squash
  • 1/2- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese.
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Instructions

  • Cut the zucchini and yellow squash on a spiralizer using the medium size blade. If you don’t have a spiralizer, cut into thin rounds.
  • Bring a large pot of boiling water to a boil and add 1/2 t. salt. Cook the spaghetti 6-8 minutes until al dente. Do not drain. Do not over cook! Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.
  • Heat a large stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and swirl to coat.
  • Add the grape tomatoes and the remaining 1/4 t. salt. Cook 6 – 8 minutes until tomato skins begin to brown and split.
  • Using tongs, transfer the cooked spaghetti from the pasta water and into the skillet with the tomatoes. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Gently toss to combine.
  • Add the zucchini and yellow squash and gently toss to combine. Allow to heat through 2-3 minutes. If all the liquid evaporates, add more of the reserved pasta water.
  • Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper to taste.
  • Serve immediately. Using tongs, place one scoop of the hot spaghetti mixture onto a plate. Sprinkle with 1-2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan. Top with another scoop of the hot noodles and grated Parmesan.

Lentil Soup with Mix-Ins

Lentil Soup with Mix-Ins

We enjoy eating soup all year round. Lentil soup is great in the summer because it cooks quickly and isn’t too heavy. This recipe uses just a few ingredients to create rich, fiery, flavor. Add a hand full or two of chopped fresh herbs such as cilantro, parsley and mint into the soup or save them as part of the mix-ins so everyone can add their own amount and flavor combinations.

Lentil Soup Mix-Ins

I came up with the mix-ins to solve two issues: 1) No one in our family likes the same things in their soup. And 2) We needed to put a few random leftovers to good use. Creating a mix-in bar with whatever you have on hand will allow even the pickiest eater to make a dish to their liking. I hope it helps you make meal time a little more fun and enjoyable.

Lentil Soup with Mix-Ins

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: dinner, Soup
Keyword: custom, lentil, soup
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hana Itzhaki

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 large Sweet Onion finely chopped
  • 3 Small Carrots finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • 1-2 tablespoons Harissa *see notes
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 cup Red Split Lentils
  • 1/2 cup Small Whole Green Lentils
  • 8-10 cups water

Mix-Ins

  • Small Pasta cooked
  • Rice cooked
  • Beans cooked
  • Whole Grains
  • Vegetables roasted or sautéed
  • Fresh herbs finely chopped
  • Cheese shredded or crumbled

Instructions

  • Put olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  • Add onions and carrots and stir to combine.
  • Add tomato paste, harissa, turmeric, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  • Add lentils and water. Stir to combine.
  • Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until lentils are cooked through.
  • Serve soup in individual bowls. Top with mix-ins.

Notes

*Harissa is a North African pepper paste. Many different varieties are available. Some my be spicier than others so add a little at a time and taste to see if you want it spicier. I get mine from Le Market in Valley Village. They make it fresh weekly and sell it there.

Pomegranate Iced Green Tea

with Spritzer and Cocktail variations.

Pomegranate Iced Green Tea

Pomegranate Iced Green Tea is the drink that gets me through the long, hot summer days. Whether I’m picking up my kids from camp, getting back from the pool or just looking for a late afternoon refresher, this is my go to drink of choice to keep me cool and calm until the sun finally sets. I love green tea because its caffeinated but won’t keep me up at night if I have a glass past 4 p.m. Instead of sweetening it with sugar, the pomegranate juice adds just the right amount of sweet and tart flavor.

It makes a great base for a wine spritzer by adding sparkling Muscato wine or use it as a mixer and add a little liquor to make it into a super refreshing cocktail. I keep a pitcher of this tea in the fridge all summer long so it’s always ready to go whenever I crave it, usually between 3-4 in the afternoon when I realize there are still around 5 hours until the sun actually sets.

Make a pitcher and take a minute to enjoy the long summer day. Before you know it, the kids will be back to school!

Pomegranate Iced Green Tea with Spritzer and Cocktail variations.

Iced green tea with pomegranate juice and iced tea cubes
Prep Time10 mins
Cooling and chilling time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 10 mins
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: summer
Keyword: drink, green tea, iced tea, pomegranate
Servings: 8 people

Ingredients

  • 8 Green Tea Bags preferably Twinings Pomegranate, Raspberry & Strawberry Green Tea
  • 8 cups Boiling Water
  • 2 cups Pomegranate Juice
  • 1 c. Pomegranate Arils
  • 1 c. Sliced Strawberries

Instructions

  • Place tea bags in a large heat proof pitcher and add boiling water. Allow to steep and cool to room temperature.
  • Use 2 cups of the tea to make ice cubes.
  • Add Pomegranate Juice to the cooled tea and refrigerate until chilled.
  • Serve with iced tea cubes, Pomegranate Arils and sliced Strawberries.

Notes

*To make the Strawberry Pomegranate Iced Green Tea Spritzer, pour 6 ounces of the iced tea/juice mixture into a tall glass with ice. Add 2 ounces pink muscato wine. Garnish with pomegranate arils and strawberry slices.
*To make the Strawberry Pomegranate Iced Green Tea Cocktail, pour 6 ounces of the iced tea/juice mixture into a tall glass with ice. Add 1 oz vodka or liquor of choice and 1 oz. seltzer. Garnish with pomegranate arils and strawberry slices.

Stuffed Crust Hamentashen Pizzas

Stuffed Crust Hamentashen Pizza

I don’t know about you but for me, warm, melty cheese + freshly baked crusty bread = true love! And what a better way to celebrate those two things than in a festive hamentashen! Purim is coming up and these mini pizzas are a great dish to serve to break the fast. (Tanit Esther is the day before Purim.) Serve with extra marinara sauce for dipping those cheesy crusts into. Pair with your favorite vegetable soup and you’ve got a filling and fun meal to start the holiday with.

They can be made a few hours ahead of time, refrigerated and baked when you are ready to eat. With the same amount of dough you can make two medium sized pizzas instead of mini pizzas or one large pizza. Just keep the cheese sticks whole and use one or two for each side depending on how big your pizza is.

I used Trader Joe’s Pizza Dough because it is so easy to work with but you can make your own too.

Hag Purim Sameach!

*This is NOT a sponsored post. I am not being compensated in any way for references made to specific products or brands. All opinions are my own.

Stuffed Crust Hamentaschen Mini Pizzas

A fun and tasty dish to break the fast with. Serve with extra marinara sauce for dipping the cheesy crusts into.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dairy, Hamentashen, pizza, Purim, stuffed crust, vegetarian
Servings: 3
Author: Hana Itzhaki

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Pizza dough
  • 5 String cheese sticks
  • 6 T. Marinara sauce
  • 2 c. Shredded cheese
  • Additional optional toppings: sliced olives onions, sautéed mushrooms
  • Olive oil for brushing

Instructions

  • 1)   Preheat the oven to 475 F.
  • 2) Dived the dough into 6 equal balls slightly larger than a golf ball. Individually roll each ball into a circle approximately six inches in diameter. The dough should be very thin. Use a bowl or other round object to cut into a perfect circle. Place on a single layer of a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • 2) Place 1 T. of marinara sauce in the center of the circle
  • 3)   Cut each cheese stick in half length wise and then in half again width wise the get four equal pieces.
  • 4)   Place three of the cheese stick pieces on the outer edge of the pizza dough and fold over the edges to create a triangle. Be sure to seal the ends so the cheese does not melt out while baking.
  • 5) Brush olive oil on the edges of the pizza dough.
  • 6) Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Top with additional toppings if using
  • 7) Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Notes

They can be made a few hours ahead of time, refrigerated and baked when you are ready to eat. With the same amount of dough you can make two medium sized pizzas instead of mini pizzas or one large pizza. Just keep the cheese sticks whole and use one or two for each side depending on how big your pizza is.

Baked Egg Pita with Zaatar

Baked Egg Pita with Zaatar

In Israel, a bakery with a wood burning clay oven is know as a taboon.  They are famous for light and fluffy flat breads such as pita, laffa and bagles baked with a variety of cheeses, herbs and spices and served with vegetable salads and spreads. I don’t have a wood burning clay oven, but I was fortunate enough to have my mother-in-law, Rachel teach me how to create a taboon special, Baked Egg Pita with Zaatar. This dish is great as a hearty snack or sufficient enough for a meal when served with salad and fries.

Baked Egg Pita with Zaatar

This simple Israeli comfort food can be but together in minutes. Serve with Israeli vegetable salad to round out the meal.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time10 mins
Servings: 1
Author: Hana Itzhaki

Ingredients

  • 1 pita
  • 1 egg
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • 1 t. zaatar
  • salt & pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 300F.
  • Create a hole in the top side of the pita leaving a ¾ in boarder.
  • Place the pita on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper.
  • Brush the top half of the pita inside and out with olive oil, sprinkle  with half of the zaatar.
  • Crack the egg into a small dish or cup and check for blood spots.      Carefully pour the egg into the center hole of the pita.
  • Sprinkle the remaining zaatar on top of the egg. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Bake in for 8-10 minutes.
  • Be sure to watch carefully that the pita doesn’t burn around the edges. If it does start to burn before the egg is cooked, lightly over with foil. Do not broil.

Notes

You can also bake the pita and egg in a toaster oven. Just be sure to preheat the toaster oven an check for doneness depending on your toaster’s temperature.

Roasted Eggplant Salad

Roasted Eggplant Salad

Roasted Eggplant Salad

Roasted eggplant and peppers give this dip a deep smokey flavor.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Appetizer, Condiment
Cuisine: Israeli, Middle Eastern
Keyword: appetizer, dip, kosher, parve, salad, vegetarian
Servings: 8
Author: Hana Itzhaki

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1 clove of garlic crushed
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ t. salt
  • ¼ c. packed flat leaf parsley finely chopped
  • 1 T tahina paste or mayo optional

Instructions

  • Cut eggplant and red pepper lengthwise and lay cut side down on a broiler pan lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray. Place jalapeño on broiler pan with eggplant and pepper.
  • Broil at 550 degrees F. for 10-15 minutes. Once the red pepper is mostly blackened, remove from the oven and place in a bowl. Cover and allow the pepper to steam.
  • Turn the jalapeño over to blacken the other side. Broil 5-10 minutes more or until mostly charred. Once charred, remove jalapeño from the oven and place in the bowl with the red pepper. Cool until the peppers can be handled.
  • Continue to roast the eggplant for an additional 5-10 minutes, for a total cooking time of 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan. Once the eggplant has cooled, scoop out the flesh with a spoon careful remove all of the charred skin. Place the eggplant flesh into a medium bowl. Mash with a fork until eggplant is no longer stringy.
  • Remove the cooled peppers from the bowl. Peel the charred skins and  discard seeds. Chop into a ¼ in. dice. Add the peppers to the eggplant. Add remaining ingredients. Stir to combine. Makes 1 cup.
  • Blend in the tahina paste or mayo if using.

Notes

This recipe is also great with roasted garlic instead of the raw it you have some on hand.

Tahina

Tahina

Tahina

Prepared, seasoned tahina is a popular middle eastern condiment and is often served in a pita to accompany falafel or shawarma. Made from ground sesame seeds, tahina has a nutty flavor and smooth texture.
Prep Time10 mins
Course: Appetizer, dip
Cuisine: Israeli, Middle Eastern
Keyword: dip, kosher, parve, tahina, vegetarian
Servings: 12

Ingredients

  • 1 c. sesame paste
  • 1 t. citric acid
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • ¾ c. water

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Note: Tahina will get thicker before it gets thinner. If it is still too think once all the water has been added, continue to add water a few tablespoons at a time and blend until it resembles a thick sauce. Once refrigerated, tahina will thicken.

Notes

Seasoning and water measurements may vary depending on which brand of sesame paste you use. I prefer Achva brand. Makes 2 cups.

*This is NOT a sponsored post. I am not being compensated in any way for references made to specific products or brands. All opinions are my own.

Israeli Vegetable Salad

Israeli Vegetable Salad

True Israeli salad is a mixture of finely chopped fresh, vibrant, vegetables. There are a myriad of variations to this salad. This recipe is as basic as it gets. Feel free to add and combination of finely chopped vegetables, swap in a different variety of onion and/or throw in some fresh herbs.

This salad makes a great fresh side, especially when served with barbecue. It’s also served in a pita to accompany falafel. We have is as part of our first course with Shabbat meals served with challah.

Israeli Vegetable Salad

Serve as a fresh side salad or add it to your pita.
Prep Time10 mins
Course: Appetizer, Salad
Cuisine: Israeli
Keyword: kosher, parve, salad, vegetarian
Servings: 4
Author: Hana Itzhaki

Ingredients

  • 6 Persian cucumbers cut to a ¼ in. dice
  • 3 Roma tomatoes cut to a ¼ in. dice
  • 1 Shallot diced
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 Lime juiced
  • 1 t. Salt
  • 1/2 t. ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Combine cucumbers, tomatoes, and shallot in a bowl. Dress with lime juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.

Notes

True Israeli salad is a mixture of finely chopped fresh, vibrant, vegetables. There are a myriad of variations to this salad. This recipe is as basic as it gets. Feel free to add and combination of finely chopped vegetables, swap in a different variety of onion and/or throw in some fresh herbs.