Food historians will look back at the pandemic as a time that pushed even more Americans to discover that meals can be something you make yourself. For those who already cooked regularly, quarantine, shortages and closed restaurants forced us to get even more creative, stretching ourselves into new techniques and cuisines. These 10 best recipes of 2021 push beyond the obvious, add spice (sometimes literally, always figuratively) to routine, and make hard-times life much, much better.
Carly Pildis’ Oat milk pumpkin pie
People devoured Carly Pildis’ test of five different non-dairy versions of pareve pumpkin pie. The best was made with Oatly oat milk, a result I confirmed in my own kitchen. The pie turns out creamy, perfectly sweet and far lighter than the usual.
Jews fled Spain during the Inquisition; ended up in Bayonne, France; started the West’s first chocolate manufacturing industry there — and you get the cake.
Rob Eshman’s Fresh fig, mint and walnut salad
This works as a light salad, a relish for meat or fish — and the best mouthful of fall you can imagine.
Jake Cohen’s Za’atar-roasted eggplant with tahini
Cohen, an Internet cooking phenom and author of one of the most engaging cookbooks of the year, “Jew-ish,” has an Ottollenghi-inspired recipe that can easily be a main course.
Tanaaz Sassooni’s Persian meat and apple stew
Los Angeles Persian food blogger Sassooni adapted a stew that usually uses quince to more common apples; the result is warm, balanced and really satisfying.
Eitan Bernath’s Red-wine braised short ribs with creamy polenta
Bernath, whom the Forward featured earlier this year, was just named to Forbes “30 Under 30” List. This dish shows his talent for simple, luxurious and do-able recipes.
Rob Eshman’s Chickpea gnocchi with market vegetables
A vegetarian main course that uses everyone’s new favorite, the chickpea, as pasta.
Imani Jackson’s Chicken ‘n’ Rice bake
Forward contributor Jackson serves this comforting crowd-pleaser as a staple main dish at her St. Louis catering company.
Michael Solomonov’s Chicken thighs with kumquats and olives
Solomonov has a talent for refining standard recipes or using common ingredients in a way that you wish you had thought of yourself. This take on Moroccan chicken with preserved lemons and olives is a delicious example.
Patti Jinich’s Chulibul: Green beans in corn sauce with pumpkin seeds
This was a standout at Thanksgiving: a Mayan dish presented by a Jewish-Mexican chef prepared for an American holiday table.
Liza Schoenfein’s Roasted peppers with pomegranate and whipped feta
Yes, you’ve had this dish a thousand times with cubes of feta. But now whip it. Whip it good — you’ll be happy you did.
This article was originally published on the Forward.