In my kitchen, I keep The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden on my shelf. This book offers recipes (some of which are vegetarian) and tells the story of Jewish cooking in Sephardic and Ashkenazi communities.
One recipe introduction caught my attention.
In the introduction to a lentil soup recipe, Roden writes:
Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils. Lentils are often mentioned in the Talmud and the Bible. They have always had an important place in the Sephardi diet. For centuries they sustained the poor communities – often mixed with rice or cracked wheat or noodles, or eaten as a salad with an oil-and-lemon dressing. In several communities they were an obligatory part of the Thursday-night evening meal, which was often meatless.
To repeat the Jewish food tradition:
The Thursday evening meal was often meatless.
As most Jewish people ate (and still eat) meat for Shabbat dinner on Friday night, it is intelligent that families made Thursday night meatless for health and budget reasons. Eating one (or more) meatless meals per week is good for you and your family, good for your household budget, good for the country that you live in and good for the earth.
If you eat meat or dairy on Shabbat (and even if you don’t), try a meatless and dairy-free lentil soup for Thursday night dinner and make it a weekly routine.
Who knows where this could go? In 2003, Meatless Monday was founded in 2003 by Sid Lerner in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and now it is a global movement active in 44 countries.
To help us reclaim this tradition, here is a vegan oil-free red lentil soup recipe that is simple to make, healthy and delicious.
Let’s try something here in the Jewish Food Hero community. You make a meatless meal on any Thursday and post a picture of it on social media using the hashtag #meatlessthursday.
Your turn: What do you find most compelling about this Jewish food tradition?