Cooking techniques / Main dish / Side dish

Simplifying Sukkos

12 meals. Count ’em.

Of course, you’ll have to count this Shabbos to get to 14, but those are just details.

You might grow crazy thinking about it. You’ll most definitely gain weight eating it.

I can’t say I’ve got the absolute solution to how to cook (and eat!) so many meals, but I’ve got a few tips. Afterall, Sukkos is the holiday of appreciating the simplicity, right?

1. Don’t get caught up talking to women. This is not a warning for husbands out there. This is a warning to all my lady friends. Because while our men-folk are busy building sukkos, women are gathering in parks, living rooms and on Facebook listing the foods they’ve already frozen and they ones they’re about to make. Just listening to them makes me nervous. Relax, I say. Nobody’s going to starve if you don’t make the three-layer kugel your neighbor has already made.

2.  Keep it fresh and simple. You don’t need a lot to create an elegant meal, and you certainly don’t need tri-color soup. Fresh vegetables–like whole carrots flavored with fresh herbs, like rosemary, and olive oil, a halved lemon, sea salt and pepper–look beautiful and taste delicious. Plus, your guests will thank you when you don’t have to roll them home.

3. Recycle your food. Just because Chicago’s one of the few modern cities of the world without a working recycling program doesn’t mean that we can never recycle. Have a few scraps of chicken or roast left from the first night? Cook up some brown rice, stir fry a few leftover veggies in oil, lemon and soy sauce and toss your meat on top. You’ve got a brand-new, delicious meal.

4. Start with soup. Soups are tasty, healthy, warming in a Sukkah and easy to make. Save yourself the trouble of making a dozen salads for the first course and make a quick soup. Find some ideas here.

5. Your family and guests will eat what you serve. Granted I don’t have a family of high school boys, but I kid you not, I have serve one whole fryer chicken to a table of 10. Put a carved chicken on a platter along with the other delicious (and simple!) sides you prepared, and everyone takes only a few slices of meat. Rest assured, most of your guests–especially the tots–don’t need an entire leg and thigh when they’re also eating sliced bread, fish, side dishes and dessert. Check out more ideas for serving less meat, along with the best whole fryer chicken recipe ever.

Have a happy, healthy and stress-free Chag!

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