” During the last thirty years Israeli cooking has truly arrived on the international scene. It now goes far, far beyond hummus and falafel, (not that there’s anything wrong with these classic dishes).

Much of the new food focus highlights the rise of Sephardic cooking. Its delightful range of spices, flavors, grains, produce and modern fusions have garnered considerable culinary attention.

Sarasota Sister Cities is sponsoring an opportunity to enjoy tastes of professionally prepared contemporary Sephardic cooking including appetizers, main dishes, sides to desserts at Arts Center Sarasota (on Tamiami Trail next to the Municipal Auditorium). There will be vegetarian items and, hopefully, leftovers for you to take home.

In addition to enjoying wonderful food – recipes will be provided – attendees will learn about the fascinating history of Sephardic Jewry and about Tel Mond, Sarasota’s Israeli Sister City.

To make your reservation by February 10 please register and pay on the Sister Cities Association of Sarasota website:  www.sarasotasistercities.org and click on Special Events.

Many thanks to Rabbi Jonathan Katz and his team. This event sold out quickly and was an informative and delicious experience.

Recipes of the dishes served at this event are posted below.  Enjoy!



Total time: 2 hrs 45 mins
Prep: 15 mins
Cook:2 hrs 30 mins
Yield: 4 servings

1 to 2 preserved lemons (quartered and seeds removed)
1 whole chicken (skin removed, cut into pieces)
2 large onions (white or yellow, finely chopped)
2 to 3 cloves garlic (finely chopped or pressed)
1 small handful of fresh cilantro (chopped)
1 small handful fresh parsley (chopped)
2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric (or 1/4 teaspoon Moroccan yellow colorant)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or less, to taste)
Optional: 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads (crumbled)
1/3 cup olive oil
2 handfuls olives (green or red, or mixed)
1/4 cup water (approximately)

Directions: Marinate
Remove flesh from the preserved lemon and chop the flesh finely. Add the lemon to a bowl along with the chicken, onion, garlic, cilantro, parsley, ginger, pepper, turmeric, and salt. Mix well. Let chicken marinate (if possible for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator).

Preheat oven to 425 F. Add enough olive oil to a large baking dish so it coats the bottom. Add the sliced onions and garlic from the marinade. Then place the marinated chicken on top. Add the olives and lemon on top and drizzle the chicken with the remaining olive oil. Bake the chicken uncovered for 45 minutes to one hour, or until the chicken is light golden brown, basting occasionally. Reduce the heat to 350 F and continue baking for another 30 minutes or longer. The chicken should be deeply browned, the juices should run clear, and the leg joints should move easily. Remove the chicken from the oven and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. (The time for the oven-roasted chicken is based on the average 3- to 4-pound roaster.)


Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 35 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
Servings: 4

· 1 head cauliflower
· 1/2 red onion
· 2 Tbsp olive oil
· Salt and Pepper to taste
· 1/2 bunch parsley

· 1/3 cup tahini
· 1/3 cup water
· 1/4 cup lemon juice
· 2 cloves garlic, minced
· 1/2 tsp cumin
· 1/4 tsp cayenne
· 1/4 tsp salt

· 15 oz can chickpeas
· 1 Tbsp olive oil
· 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
· 1/4 tsp garlic powder
· 1/8 tsp cayenne
· Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Chop the cauliflower into small florets and place them on a large baking sheet. Slice the red onion into 1/4-inch strips and place them on the baking sheet. Drizzle the cauliflower and onions with olive oil and season with a pinch or two of salt and pepper. Toss the cauliflower and onions until coated in oil, salt, and pepper.
2. Roast the cauliflower and onions in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, then stir, return them to the oven, and roast for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and browned on the edges. Let the cauliflower cool slightly. While the cauliflower and onions are roasting, make the lemon tahini dressing. Add the tahini, water, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, cayenne, and salt to a blender. Blend until smooth, then refrigerate until ready to serve.
3. Drain and rinse the can of chickpeas. Add them to a skillet along with the olive oil, smoked paprika, cayenne, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir and cook the chickpeas over medium heat for about five minutes, or until they sizzle and become slightly crispy. Remove the chickpeas from the heat. Pull the parsley leaves from their stems and roughly chop the leaves into small pieces (about 1.5 cups loosely packed, once chopped). To build the salad, combine the roasted cauliflower and onions in a bowl with the spiced chickpeas and chopped parsley. Drizzle the lemon tahini dressing over top, and toss to combine. Serve warm or cold.

Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
35 mins

This moroccan pilaf is the most fragrant side dish! Basmati rice gets cooked with dried fruit and spices for an unforgettable experience! It is also vegan and gluten-free.
Servings: 6

· 2 tablespoons olive oil
· 1 medium onion, finely chopped
· 1/2 teaspoon cumin
· 1/4 teaspoon allspice
· 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves (or 2-3 whole cloves)
· 1/4 teaspoon cardamom (or 5-6 cardamom pods)
· 1 stick cinnamon
· 2 bay leaves
· Salt and pepper to taste
· 2 cups basmati rice
· 3 cups vegetable stock or water (you can also use chicken stock if you’re not vegan)
· 1/4 teaspoon saffron
· 3 dates, finely chopped
· 3 dried apricots, finely chopped
· 1/4 cup raisins, chopped
· 1/4 cup roasted almonds, crashed

1. Place the onion and the olive oil in a large pot and sauté under medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add cumin, allspice, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, pepper and rice and stir until rice gets a white color, about 2-3 minutes.
2. Add the stock (or water), salt and saffron, cover the pot and wait until it starts to boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook covered until almost all of the water is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes.
3. Turn off the heat, add the dried fruits and almonds and stir/fluff up gently with a fork. Cover the pot and let the pilaf rest for 15-20 minutes.
4. Eat!
Recipe Notes
· For a more “al dente” rice you can use 2 1/2 cups water.
· Discard the bay leaves and cinnamon stick (and cloves and cardamom pods if used whole) before serving.

Was this page helpful?