"18-Day Challenge" Israeli-Inspired Recipes

Sharing joy and connecting with our community for a sweet new year

In this challenging time of Covid-19, we are grateful to you for ensuring that everyone in our Jaffa community in Israel is taken care of. We hope that you will consider a generous response to this special request, as we head into the High Holy Days.

Our goal is to raise $18,000 in 18 days to provide 180 meals to those in need for Rosh Hashanah!

Our campaign begins after sundown on Saturday, September 1 and we hope to deliver meals before the sun sets on Friday, September 18th.

Check back as we share incredible Israeli recipes each week from local chefs to highlight the importance of food as a way for our community to come together.

Couscous with Elle Daftarian

Elle is an entrepreneur, mother, TV personality, storyteller, & dog lover. 

You can get in touch with Elle professionally on LinkedIn or personally on her Instagram. She’s on a mission to reveal how to find the extraordinary in the everyday ordinary. Elle is also a partner and co-founder at THOUGHT, a collective dedicated to solving societal problems, and the founder of the MILK Movement, a social enterprise helping kids find balance between the digital world and the real one.

Elle has shared her recipe for couscous here – easy, delicious and definitely kid-friendly!


2 teaspoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

½ small onion, finely chopped

250 grams Israeli couscous

1 ½ cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 cup water

2 cucumbers, diced

250 grams cherry tomatoes, halved

3 cups baby spinach, finely sliced

¼ cup cilantro or parsley, finely chopped


2 teaspoons lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

½ teaspoon salt & black pepper

How to Make It

Heat oil in a large saucepan or small pot over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion, saute until the onion is translucent and starting to brown.

Add couscous and stir, cooking for 1 minute. Add broth and water, place the lid on and turn the heat down to medium low.

Cook for 10 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the couscous is cooked through but still firm. Use a fork to separate the couscous, then transfer into a large bowl to cool.

*Don’t worry if it gets sticky, it will separate when tossed with dressing

Serve with warmed pita bread and hummus for a delicious lunch or light dinner

Lokshin Kugel from United Bakers Dairy 

United Bakers Dairy Restaurant has been a Toronto tradition since 1912. It is an iconic landmark where generations of families come together to dine and see friends old and new.

As Toronto’s oldest family restaurant, four generations of the Ladovsky family have been serving delicious dairy foods to just about everybody.  

Among the restaurant’s favourite offerings are our daily split pea soup, gefilte fish and cheese blintzes, along with countless other middle European specialties. In addition to our famous Greek salad, we have added other middle eastern dishes,  like shakshouka, Israeli salad, humous and falafel.

The recipe we are including today is a recipe that has been in our family since the early 1960s…one that we make only for Rosh Hashanna, Yom Kippur and Shavuot…our traditional cottage cheese noodle pudding. Our mother always included this delicious Kugel on her holiday menu. 

From our family to yours….Shana Tova and delicious wishes.

Jacob, Philip, Ruthie, & Nathan Ladovsky. Click the photo to follow United Bakers Dairy Restaurant on Instagram



375g medium noodles

1-½ lbs. creamed cottage cheese

½ cup sugar

6 eggs

12oz sour cream

16oz crushed pineapple, drained

1t. vanilla 


1 cup Special K cereal

½ cup brown sugar

How to Make It

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Grease and set aside a 9 x 12 Pyrex dish

Boil noodles for one hour, drain & run cold water over noodles

In a large mixer combine all other ingredients except topping ingredients, beat until creamy

Add noodles and fold to combine

Mix topping ingredients and sprinkle over noodle mixture

Pour into baking dish and bake for 1-½ hours


*To re-heat sprinkle with a little orange juice and heat covered at 325 degrees for 1 hour

Shakshuka with Ofer Shaked

Ofer is a man who is larger than life. His heart is open to help others and he creates his delicious dishes with love and extraordinary flavours. 

When we eat the meals that Ofer creates we feel the roots of Israeli cuisine, be it from Morocco, the Middle East, France or early Israel-Arabic roots. With his meals we experience not just the delight of the food itself but also of a broader community and people.

This recipe for shakshuka is Ofer’s own take on this versatile dish. He encourages you to use lots of garlic, which he loves!

This particular version was made for an outdoor event in Israel. It was prepared and served in a natural setting.

Ofer with his wife Lissie and daughter Uval


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 large red bell pepper chopped

¼ teaspoon sea salt

3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced (Ofer loves lots!)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 large can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes 

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, plus addition cilantro or parsley leaves for garnish

1 eggplant cut into small cubes

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

5 to 6 large eggs

½ cup crumbled feta

How to make it

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm the oil in a large, oven-safe skillet (preferably stainless steel) over medium heat. Once shimmering, add the onion, bell pepper, and salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are tender and turning translucent, about 4 to 6 minutes.

Add the garlic, the eggplant, tomato paste, cumin. Cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes.

Pour in the crushed tomatoes with their juices and add the cilantro. Stir, and let the mixture come to a simmer. Reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook for 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat. Taste (careful, it’s hot), and add salt and pepper as necessary. Use the back of a spoon to make a well near the perimeter and crack the egg directly into it. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the eggs and cover

Top with the crumbled feta, fresh cilantro leaves, and more red pepper flakes, if desired. Serve in bowls with crusty bread on the side.

Serves 4 to 6

Caponata alla Giudia with Gianluca Ruggieri of Cucinato

Cucinato is an Italian food hub that does many things:  a weekly market, cooking classes, dinner events, catering and personal chef service. They do more than cook Italian food: they also try to share it’s cultural and historical context. Gianluca Ruggieri is the chef of the Mercato (Weekly Market) and hosts dinners and classes at Cucinato Studio.

Caponata is a traditional recipe from Sicily. Many don’t know it actually has Jewish origins. Eggplants did not become part of Italian cuisine until the end of the fifteenth century as they were considered a humble food – to be destined for the poor – and according to some even poisonous. Eggplants were brought to Sicily by the Spanish Jewish merchants, who had been cooking this vegetable since the thirteenth century.  The Sicilian caponata is characterized by the classic sweet and sour taste common to many Jewish recipes of the time and it’s commonly used on Italian tables during Passover.

Click the photo see more from Cucinato


400g can diced tomatoes

1/2 glass vinegar

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Basil or mint to taste

2T capers 

1 white onion, cut into chunks + 1/2 onion chopped

2 celery stalks 

3 medium eggplants 

Sunflower oil for frying 

Extra virgin olive oil

1 cup pitted olives- black and green mixed

Pepper to taste

4 perini tomatoes 

Salt to taste

1T sugar

How to Make It

Wash and cut the eggplants into cubes of about 2 cm, salt them and put them to drain in a colander.

In a large pan, fry the crushed garlic and the chopped onion with plenty of olive oil, then add the celery and the onion cut into chunks and sauté for about ten minutes. 

Add capers, olives, canned diced tomatoes, sugar and vinegar and cook for another ten minutes.

Meanwhile, squeeze and fry the eggplants in plenty of frying oil.

Drain the eggplants on paper towel, then transfer them to the pan with the rest of the ingredients and cook for about 5 minutes.
Once the cooking is finished, adjust salt and pepper.
Serve hot or cold, adding a few leaves of basil or mint at the last minute, to taste.

Israeli Couscous with Mark Climie-Elliott

By day, Mark Climie-Elliott is CEO & Chief Smile Officer of Operation Smile Canada and recently became The Canadian Friends of The Jaffa Institute’s newest volunteer board member. 

Among foodie friends, he is often seen posting his original dishes with #beardedchef on Instagram.

Never following a recipe, Mark created this favourite: Grilled Chicken Breast with Israeli Couscous. The entire meal for two was made with fresh organic veggies and cost less than $18 to prepare. 

Mark hopes this inspires us all to make a gift of at least $18 or multiples thereof through this food challenge, so children and families in need will celebrate the New Year filled with hope and Shalom!

“The recipe below can be modified to whatever you want to add to the dish. Just follow the measure of liquid to couscous and then create!”

Click the photo to follow Mark on Instagram


2T. olive oil

1-⅓ cups unsalted chicken broth

1 cup pearl couscous

Handful fresh mushrooms, sliced

½ sweet onion, diced

2 shallots, diced

4 large cloves of garlic, minced 

½ each red, yellow, orange sweet peppers, diced

2 zucchini, quartered

1-⅓ cups unsalted chicken broth

2 cups pearl couscous

2 zucchini, thickly chopped

Salt to taste

How to Make

Add olive oil to a non-stick pan and heat up  

Sauté mushrooms, onion, shallots first, then add garlic, peppers 

In a small saucepan bring broth to a boil

Add couscous and simmer until water is absorbed

Remove from burner , add a bit of olive oil to keep moist, mixing with a fork. 

Add zucchini to the sautéed vegetables and then fork the couscous through in low heat

Add salt to taste


Serve with grilled fish or chicken breasts and plate

Add fresh herbs to finish (we like lemon basil leaves)

Serves 2

Shakshuka with Meredith Holbrook

Meredith Holbrook is the CEO & Founder of Rily, a new type of recipe website with a sophisticated filtering system, geared for those with diets, conditions and illnesses. 

Meredith is also a freelance photojournalist who has traveled the world over capturing people, places and wildlife.  Meredith is deeply inspired by her extensive time spent in Israel.

This recipe is derived by the many wonderful ways to make this quintessential Israeli dish. According to some historians Shashuka dates all the way back to the Ottoman Empire. Today, there are so many variations of this unique food in Israel that it can be hard to classify under one heading.

However you make it, Shakshuka adds incredible flavour and colour to any meal. 

Click the photo to follow Rily on Instagram for more great recipes and ideas


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, reduce or omit if sensitive to spice

1 large can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, plus addition cilantro or
parsley leaves for garnish

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 to 6 large eggs

½ cup of halved cherry bocconcini

Crusty bread or pita, for serving


*Adapted from:

How to Make

Warm the oil in a large pan over medium heat. When heated, add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onions are tender and turning translucent, about 4 to 6 minutes.

Add the salt, garlic, cumin, paprika and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring constantly, until nice and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.

Pour in the crushed tomatoes with their juices and add the cilantro. Stir, and let the mixture come to a simmer. Reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook for 5 minutes to give the flavors time to meld.

Add the bocconcini, salt and pepper as necessary. Use the back of a spoon to make a well near the perimeter and crack the egg directly into it. Repeat with the remaining 3 to 5 eggs, depending on how many you can fit. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the eggs.

Cover with a lid. They’re done when the egg whites are an opaque white and the yolks have risen a bit but are still soft. They should still jiggle in the centers when you shimmy the pan. 

Using oven mitts (both hands!), transfer the hot skillet to a heat-safe surface like the stove. Top with fresh cilantro leaves, and more red pepper flakes, if desired. Serve in bowls with crusty bread on the side.


Serve with warm crusty bread or pita for a hearty and healthy fall meal

Moroccan Rice with Eli Staiman

Eli Staiman is a food lover and home chef extraordinaire. Along with his father, he is the co-owner of the beloved Kernels Popcorn franchise.

This remarkably versatile side dish can become a meal with the addition of lentils or chickpeas. 

Other variations include adding dried fruits such as apricots, prunes or dates. 

Simply stir in the additions as the last step to create your own unique version of this sweet & savoury delight.

Pairs well with grilled fish and if you are feeling inspired, serve a cold mint tea with your meal to heighten the flavour profile.


1-1/2 cups basmati rice

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onions, from one small onion

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cloves garlic, minced

2-1/4 cups water

1-1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup toasted almond slivers


*handful chopped parsley for garnish

How to Make It

Place rice in a medium bowl and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Using your hands, gently swish grains to release any excess starch. Carefully pour off water, leaving rice in the bowl. Repeat four to five times, until the water runs almost clear. Using a fine mesh strainer, drain water from rice. Place strainer over bowl and set aside.

Heat oil in a pot over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, stirring regularly, until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and garlic to sautéed onions and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds longer. Add rice to pot, and cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes. Add water, salt and pepper to rice and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until all liquid is absorbed, 15-18 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Toss in toasted almonds, fluff rice with a fork, then serve.

Israeli Salad with Roger Sherman

Roger Sherman is the producer of the acclaimed documentary In Search of Israeli Cuisine and The New Face of Israeli Cuisine.

Every chef I filmed in Israel said, “You cannot be my enemy when you’re at my table.” Israel, I believe, has the hottest food scene in the world, the freshest, tastiest vegetables, available year-round. Who would have thought that something as simple as Israeli Salad, originally called Arab Salad, would be a breakfast staple? When I ate it for the first time in Tel Aviv, it was one of the ‘DUH’ moments. Of course! I made it this morning: with cucumbers, tomatoes, avocados, peaches, apples, whatever was on hand. Healthy! Nothing better.” 

Click to follow Roger on Instagram


6 medium cucumbers, diced

4 medium Roma (plum) tomatoes, seeded and diced

5 medium (4-1/8″ long) green onions, sliced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

⅓ cup chopped garlic

1 cup chopped fresh parsley

½ cup minced fresh mint leaves

½ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon ground black pepper


How to make it:

Toss the cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, bell pepper, garlic, parsley, and mint together in a bowl. Drizzle the olive oil and lemon juice over the salad and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to serve.

*courtesy of Allrecipes.com


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