Leah Koenig

It's all about focusing on what's most important.
Advertisement
This gorgeous, colorful salad takes late-winter produce like thinly shaved beets, carrot ribbons, and rounds of juicy clementine and dresses them up for spring with a citrus-scallion vinaigrette so delicious, recipe creator Leah Koenig says, "I sneak it straight from a spoon."  Crisp arugula serves as the base for this bright, earthy salad. Topped with nutty almonds and a citrus-scallion dressing balanced with honey, this salad is special enough to serve at a holiday meal (Koenig includes it on her table for Passover, alongside her Chicken, Potatoes, and Leeks with Pine Nut Gremolata) but it is just as delicious as a quick, light lunch.
For the crispiest skin and most flavorful meat, roast bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and legs over a bed of leeks and potatoes, where they render fat and absorb flavor. A quick turn under the broiler imparts a golden finish to the chicken before they're basted in pan juices and dressed with a zippy gremolata made from toasted pine nuts, garlic, and parsley. Cookbook author Leah Koenig loves to serve these during the Passover holiday, but they're a special dinner any night of the year.
Herb Garden Matzo Ball Soup
Rating: Unrated
New!
Matzo ball soup gets a glow-up in this version by cookbook author Leah Koenig, with fresh parsley, dill, chives, and fennel fronds in the matzo balls themselves, plus more herbs, lemon zest, and edible flowers adding color and bright, spring flavors to each finished bowl of soup.
Chicken Burgers
Rating: Unrated
2
Cookbook author Leah Koenig's secret for the juiciest chicken burgers is grinding chicken breasts in the food processor, which guarantees the freshest blend and the best texture for these moist, tender burgers. Cutting whole chicken breasts into chunks and pulsing them in the food processor yields the smooth consistency needed for the burgers to hold together, and stirring a bit of mayonnaise into the mixture yields burgers that are juicy, tender, and light. Flavored with scallions, parsley, basil, and lemon zest, these chicken burgers are delicious enough to stand alone, but for a fuller meal, serve them with coconut rice and a green salad, or on brioche with harissa-honey mayo.
Buttery, garlic-scented, fruit-studded plov is beloved across a range of Central Asian countries, in countless variations.
Beef Plov with Chickpeas
Rating: Unrated
1
The Bukharian Jews of Central Asia have ancient Persian roots, so it is no surprise that this layered rice pilaf dish is central to their cuisine. Spiced with coriander and cumin, brimming with beef (or sometimes lamb), shredded carrots, and chickpeas, it is a dish fit for Shabbat dinner or any celebration.
Advertisement
Leah Koenig’s flavorful twists on Hanukkah favorites.
For Ashkenazi Jews (those hailing from Central and Eastern Europe), latkes are the heart and soul of Hanukkah. Instead of frying batches of traditional pancakes, here the whole lot of shredded potato batter is pressed into a sizzling frying pan and finished in the oven. The oversized pancake emerges golden with a tender center and crackly shoestring curls around the perimeter. To amp this dish up for brunch, serve it topped with lox.
Beef Plov with Chickpeas
Rating: Unrated
1
The Bukharian Jews of Central Asia have ancient Persian roots, so it is no surprise that this layered rice pilaf dish is central to their cuisine. Spiced with coriander and cumin, brimming with beef (or sometimes lamb), shredded carrots, and chickpeas, it is a dish fit for Shabbat dinner or any celebration.
Leah Koenig’s flavorful twists on Hanukkah favorites.
For Ashkenazi Jews (those hailing from Central and Eastern Europe), latkes are the heart and soul of Hanukkah. Instead of frying batches of traditional pancakes, here the whole lot of shredded potato batter is pressed into a sizzling frying pan and finished in the oven. The oversized pancake emerges golden with a tender center and crackly shoestring curls around the perimeter. To amp this dish up for brunch, serve it topped with lox.
Originating in Eastern Europe, recipes for rugelach evolved after landing in America. The crescent-shaped cookies are typically layered with jam and chopped nuts and topped with a generous sprinkle of cinnamon sugar, but the dough makes a surprisingly compatible home for savory fillings. These are spread with a thick homemade onion jam flavored with balsamic vinegar, sumac, and coriander. Serve them as an hors d'oeuvre with a glass of sparkling wine while lighting Hanukkah candles, and save the leftovers for a decadent snack the next day.
Brisket-Braised Chicken
Rating: Unrated
4
Beef brisket is the most common latke pairing during the Jewish Festival of Lights. But for those looking to eat less red meat, or who simply want to switch up their holiday main-dish game, try braising chicken in a traditional brisket sauce. Heaped with sliced onions and flavored with red wine, paprika, and a touch of honey, the chicken is falling-off-the-bone tender with a deeply craveable sweet-savory sauce. And since chicken cooks significantly faster than a side of brisket, Hanukkah dinner doesn’t take all day to prepare.
Advertisement
Wilted spinach? Bendy carrots? Don't despair—get cooking.
The first time I ate roasted baby bok choy I immediately thought, “What on earth took me so long?” Just like its roast-happy cruciferous cousins—cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli—baby bok choy reacts magically to a slick of oil, a showering of salt, and a quick visit to a hot oven. The plump base turns tender while retaining a bit of bite. And the delicate leaves soften into velvet with a hint of kale-chip crispness around the edges.I’m not exaggerating when I suggest I could make a meal out of roasted baby bok choy alone. But when I manage to hold back from snagging too many straight from the oven, they are delightful paired with steak. On particularly busy weekdays, I take 10 minutes in the morning (or occasionally the night before) to settle the steak in a quick, garlicky marinade before popping it in the fridge. Sometimes I also halve the bok choy and toss them in a large Tupperware so dinner time is simply a matter of preheating the oven and arranging everything on a sheet pan.In the few moments of downtime while everything is roasting and broiling away, well honestly, I pour a glass of wine. But recently, I also started stirring up a batch of lemony miso butter. The mix of softened butter, umami-packed miso, and bright lemon zest is exactly as delicious as the sum of its parts, and it transforms the already elevated weeknight meal (see: roasted baby bok choy) into a showstopper.You may notice that this recipe makes more miso butter than one could conceivably dollop onto a single dinner. That leftover butter stores well in the fridge and enhances everything it touches, from grilled fish and pasta to warm biscuits and popcorn. As for the baby bok choy, I can guarantee that leftovers won’t be an issue.
Hungarian cuisine has a particularly “noodle-forward” concept of comfort food. When traveling in Budapest several years back, I noticed (and leaned eagerly into) a recurring theme of noodles, dumplings, and other forms of homey starches on restaurant menus and in home kitchens alike. There were rustic, spaetzle-like noodles called nokedli, many varieties of stuffed dumplings, baked noodle puddings, and diós tészta, a sweet dish that coats broad noodles with a copious showering of ground walnuts and sugar.Above all was káposztás tészta, or cabbage noodles. This more-than-the-sum-of-its-parts dish sautés a pile of sliced onions and an equal amount of shredded cabbage until silky, deeply browned, and caramelized. The whole delightful mess is then folded into softened dumplings or egg noodles, still warm from the pot. The effect is truly dazzling.Variations of cabbage noodles are served across Central and Eastern Europe from Poland to the Czech Republic. Depending on where it’s being made, the dish might be dressed up with a sprinkling of paprika or ground poppy seeds, studded with salty nibs of bacon, or folded with other sautéed vegetables or cottage cheese. I like to brighten it up with a hit of lemon zest and heaps of fresh dill, parsley, and chives. It’s just enough sunshiny flavor to elevate the dish while sacrificing none of its deeply cozy and comforting soul.
In America, hummus has largely been designated as a snack food—a little nosh to tide you over until the next meal or to absentmindedly nibble while focusing on something else. I often turn to hummus and veggies as a makeshift appetizer while cooking. It’s substantial enough to quiet a rumbling belly while light enough to not ruin dinner.But sometimes hummus itself is dinner—full stop and with no regrets. Because when you abandon the store-bought tubs and make your own hummus, whipped and dreamy with formidable glugs of tahini and olive oil and just enough lemon and garlic to highlight the decadence of it all, everyone’s favorite appetizer suddenly becomes worthy of main-dish status.Serving hummus at the center of the table is common practice in the Middle East, where it’s eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The creamy chickpea spread is often topped with sautéed mushrooms or eggplant, browned ground lamb and onions, saucy fava beans, or similar hearty add-ons. I’ve tried (and adored) all of these versions, but the dinner hummus of my dreams is capped with a generous layer of chicken and cauliflower. Flavored with a shawarma-inspired array of spices—cumin, smoked paprika, coriander—and sautéed with plenty of onions, buttery pine nuts, and sweet-tart currents, hummus is transformed into a fully satisfying meal.Just like snack-time hummus, dinner hummus tastes best with pita (though if a gluten-free friend is joining the dinner table, I also make sure to have a sturdy gluten-free cracker on hand so they can dip with abandon). Start with pita that is either super fresh and plush or cut into wedges, drizzled with a little olive oil, and lightly toasted until crisp and golden. With a few pita rounds between us, my husband and I can swipe our way through an embarrassing amount of this hummus. With a glass of wine in hand and, if I’m feeling up to the task, a green salad on the table, dinner is served.
Hard Cider-Braised Short Ribs
Rating: Unrated
New!
Winter is the official season for braised meat. Nothing takes away the damp and chill quite like the warming scent of a good braise bubbling away in the oven. Perhaps that’s why saucy, meaty dishes like brisket and pot roast have become de rigueur on Hanukkah—the Jewish calendar’s most winter wonderland-ish holiday.Braised meats also pair perfectly with potato latkes. Although I could happily construct a Hanukkah meal out of latkes alone, the crispy-edged fritters make a noble side to a platter of fork-tender meat. And the latkes’ starchy centers serve as a sponge for the braise’s flavorful jus.Some years for Hanukkah, I like to deviate from the standard brisket and braise short ribs instead. The process is the same—sear the meat, soften chopped vegetables and aromatics in the rendered fat, add enough liquid to just cover, and let the whole mess cook low and slow until the meat falls off the bone. But short ribs have a certain bravado and elegance to them that a platter of brisket can’t quite match. So if my husband and I are hosting company for menorah lighting and I want to really impress, I turn to short ribs.In this recipe, I employ a hefty glug of hard cider to flavor the braising liquid. Apples are typically served on Hanukkah as the applesauce accompaniment to potato latkes, so the cider feels both seasonally appropriate and festive. Be sure to use a hard cider that you like the taste of—ideally one that is on the crisp and dry side of the spectrum, and not overly funky. The cider’s crisp, fermented flavor offsets the ribs’ richness. It’s a match made in braising heaven.Like most braised-meat dishes, the flavor of these short ribs continues to develop a day or two after it is cooked—making it a perfect make-ahead dish for company. Preparing the short ribs in advance also gives you a chance to let the dish chill in the fridge overnight and skim off the ample layer of congealed fat that will accumulate. The flavor left behind is clean and meaty without being overwhelmingly rich.