If you find yourself sitting down to eat at synagogue late Saturday afternoon, don't expect much from the menu. Where you're treated to nice meals on Friday night and Saturday for lunch, seudah shelishit, the third meal on Shabbat, is likely to be a sad conglomeration of mayonnaise-heavy salads, greasy kugels, and dry cakes.
According to the Talmud (Shabbat 117b), one is required to eat three meals over the course of Shabbat: One on Friday night, and two on Saturday. Unlike the first two meals, seudah shelishit normally is not too elaborate. Because seudah shlishit is eaten when Shabbat is winding down, it tends to be a sedate affair. When the meal is over, it is customary to sing slow songs, or zemirot to show how sad we are to see Shabbat go.
According to the Shulhan Arukh it is preferable to eat bread at seudah shelishit, but if you are too full from lunch it is permissible to eat a slice of cake or a piece of fruit instead (OH 291:7). Most people do not say kiddush at seudah shlishit, but some do have the custom of saying just the blessing over wine, without any of the preamble found in the special kiddush liturgy for Friday night and Saturday afternoon.
So what can you do to make this obligatory meal something to look forward to? Step 1: Put away the mayonnaise. Just because the meal is typically heavy on the salads doesn't mean that is has to be incredibly unhealthy. Here you'll find three recipes that are perfect for any seudah shelishit. They call for little to no prep work before Shabbat, and they yield delicious results without ever summoning a jar of Miracle Whip.
Chickpea Salad with Sun Dried Tomatoes
Bulgur and Whiskey-Soaked Raisins with Goat Cheese
2 19-oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon cumin
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 large cucumber, quartered and sliced
2/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup cilantro or parsley, chopped
In a small bowl combine the olive oil, cumin, and lemon juice. Set aside.
In a large bowl toss the chickpeas, cucumber, sun-dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and cilantro or parsley. Pour the dressing on top, and toss to make sure everything is fully coated.
Before Shabbat, cook the bulgur and put the raisins in whiskey to soak. Everything else can be assembled in a few minutes on Shabbat afternoon.
1 cup bulgur (this recipe works well with other grains, too, so feel free to try it with 2 cups of wheatberries or 2 cups of barley)
2/3 cup golden raisins
1 cup whiskey (optional; I use bourbon, but any whiskey will do)
1 Tablespoon sugar
5 oz goat cheese, crumbled
Splash of hot sauce (Tabasco or something similar)
1 cup pine nuts
1-2 cups fresh spinach leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Cook bulgur (or wheatberries or barley) ahead of time. Put the whiskey in a bowl, add the raisins and sugar, and allow to soak for at least an hour, up to a day. Then drain and reserve the whiskey (you'll use it in the dressing). Add the raisins to the bulgur.
Put the crumbled goat cheese in a small bowl, and add the splash of hot sauce, tossing so the hot sauce is evenly distributed. Add the cheese to the bulgur. Then add the pine nuts and spinach leaves.
To make the dressing, combine the whiskey, olive oil, and lemon juice. Pour over the bulgur mixture and toss. Add salt and pepper to taste.
These need to be made before Shabbat, but they keep well, and are delicious enough to warrant the fifteen minutes of work they require.
1 package brownie mix (19-21 oz), plus the ingredients called for on the box
2 3/4 cup oats (quick cooking is fine)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup melted margarine or butter
1 3/4 cups mini chocolate chips or mini M&Ms (optional)
In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, and baking soda. Add the melted butter or margarine, and mix until mixture is coarse and moist.
In another bowl prepare the brownie batter however is suggested on the box.
Grease a 15"x10" baking sheet, and press the oat mixture into the bottom of the sheet until there is a thin layer of oats covering the bottom of the baking sheet. You should still have at least two cups of oat mixture left. Pour the brownie batter on top of the oat mixture, and use a spatula to make sure it is evenly distributed. Sprinkle the rest of the oat mixture over the brownie batter, and then sprinkle M&Ms or chocolate chips over that, if desired.
Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
These can be kept covered in the refrigerator, or cut into bars and stored in an airtight container.