The Jew And The Carrot

Edible Gifts: Healthy Recipes in a Jar

By Katherine Martinelli

  • Print
  • Share Share
Katherine Martinelli

The best kind of Hanukkah gifts are those you can make and your friends eat. In this series, we’ll present four sweet and savory ideas to spice up your holiday gift giving for everyone on your list.

Holiday food gifts are often sweet, rich, and calorie-laden. While the colder weather calls for comfort food, why not deliver it in the form of a steaming hot, one pot meal? Recipes in a jar — where the dry ingredients are attractively layered in a clear jar — are a fun and creative gift for a food lover. But instead of the usual cookie in a jar, this Hanukkah hit up your pantry and give the gift of homemade three-bean chili or Middle Eastern mujadara.

The premise is simple: Take your favorite grain recipe, separate out the dry ingredients, and layer them in a nice jar, then include a recipe for the recipient. Unlike baked goods or candies, these presents are shelf stable so there’s no pressure to eat them immediately and the recipient will have a hot meal at their fingertips whenever they like.

Bean chili is a perfect contestant for a recipe in a jar — you can use the recipe below, or adapt your favorite. Use any beans you like (though a mix of red kidney beans, white beans, and black beans has a nice effect) and add in a spice mix. This recipe produces a hearty and richly flavored vegan chili that would satisfy vegetarians and meat lovers alike.

For a Middle Eastern touch, mujadara, a rice and lentil dish works beautifully in a jar. All that’s needed to complete this recipe is caramelized onions. Although the rice and lentils for mujadara are often cooked separately, they can be cooked together to save time and cut down on dirty dishes. And the cinnamon stick tied to the outside of the jar makes for an extra pretty presentation.

Besides looking nice, beans, grains and legumes are a healthful antidote to holiday belly. I know after all the fried foods of Hanukkah I always crave simple and nutritious foods that are comforting enough for winter. These two recipes definitely fit the bill.

3-Bean Chili Recipe in a Jar

1 cup dried red kidney beans
1 cup dried cannellini/white beans
1 cup dried black beans
½ ounce mixed dried peppers (about 5 medium-sized dried peppers; a mix of hot and mild is ideal)
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons garlic powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt

To Assemble the Jar:

Pour the dried red beans into a clean, clear 32-ounce jar. Tap gently on the counter to get it in an even layer. Add the white beans, then the black beans in even layers on top, then the dried peppers. Mix the cumin, oregano, garlic powder, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl and put into a small plastic bag. Tie a knot and nestle the spice mix on top of the peppers. Close the jar.

3-Bean Chili Recipe (to include with jar)

Contents of the jar (beans, dried peppers, and spice mix)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
Salt and pepper

1) Remove the spice packet and dried peppers and set aside. Pour the beans into a large bowl and cover with cold water. Soak overnight.

2) Drain the beans and set aside.

3) Add the dried chili peppers to a small saucepot over medium heat and cover with water. Simmer until the chilies are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chilies to a food processor along with ¼ cup of the cooking liquid. Blend until smooth and set aside.

4) Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat and cook the onions and garlic until softened.

5) Add the contents of the spice packet and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the pureed chilies, crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth and drained, soaked beans and stir to combine.

6) Cover and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 hours, until the beans are tender. Season with salt and pepper and eat immediately or, even better, refrigerate and enjoy the next day (the flavors will only get better).

Mujadara Recipe in a Jar

1½ cups long grain white rice
½ cup green or brown lentils
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon cumin
1 cinnamon stick

To Assemble the Jar:

Pour ½ cup of the rice into a clean, clear 16-ounce jar. Tap gently on the counter to get it in an even layer. Add ¼ cup of the lentils, then ½ cup rice, ¼ cup lentils, and, finally, the remaining ½ cup of rice. Sprinkle the cinnamon and cumin on top. Close and tie the cinnamon stick, along with the recipe, around the jar.

Mujadara Recipe (to include with jar)

Contents of the jar
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
3 pounds white onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup white wine, vermouth or water

1) Pour the contents of the jar (rice, lentils, and spices) into a pot along with the cinnamon stick. Cover with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer over low heat until the lentils are tender, about 25 minutes. Drain, discard the cinnamon stick, and transfer the lentils and rice to a bowl. Set aside.

2) Meanwhile, melt the butter along with the oil and salt in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized, 20 to 30 minutes. Add the wine, vermouth or water to deglaze the pan and bring out more flavor from the onions.

3) Add most of the onions to the lentil-rice mixture and stir to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste and top with the remaining onions. Serve warm or at room temperature. It’s delicious with a dollop of yogurt.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Vegan Recipes, Mjuadara, Chili, Edible Gifts, Hanukkah

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • According to a new poll, 75% of Israeli Jews oppose intermarriage.
  • Will Lubavitcher Rabbi Moshe Wiener be the next Met Council CEO?
  • Angelina Jolie changed everything — but not just for the better:
  • Prime Suspect? Prime Minister.
  • Move over Dr. Ruth — there’s a (not-so) new sassy Jewish sex-therapist in town. Her name is Shirley Zussman — and just turned 100 years old.
  • From kosher wine to Ecstasy, presenting some of our best bootlegs:
  • Sara Kramer is not the first New Yorker to feel the alluring pull of the West Coast — but she might be the first heading there with Turkish Urfa pepper and za’atar in her suitcase.
  • About 1 in 40 American Jews will get pancreatic cancer (Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of the few survivors).
  • At which grade level should classroom discussions include topics like the death of civilians kidnapping of young Israelis and sirens warning of incoming rockets?
  • Wanted: Met Council CEO.
  • “Look, on the one hand, I understand him,” says Rivka Ben-Pazi, a niece of Elchanan Hameiri, the boy that Henk Zanoli saved. “He had a family tragedy.” But on the other hand, she said, “I think he was wrong.” What do you think?
  • How about a side of Hitler with your spaghetti?
  • Why "Be fruitful and multiply" isn't as simple as it seems:
  • William Schabas may be the least of Israel's problems.
  • You've heard of the #IceBucketChallenge, but Forward publisher Sam Norich has something better: a #SoupBucketChallenge (complete with matzo balls!) Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman & David Remnick, you have 24 hours!
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.