Fish and egg dishes may not ensure fertility, but at least theyre easy to prepare

Immediately after the religious ceremony, the newly wedded Japanese Jewish couple jumps three times over a large platter filled with fresh fish, or over a vessel containing live fish, or steps seven times backwards and forwards over a fish. The ceremony is expounded to be the symbol of prayer for children. It is written that the bridegroom on the marriage day take a raw egg, which he casts at the bride; intimating thereby his desire that she may have both an easy and joyful childbirth.
Western Russian Jews have the custom of setting a raw egg before a bride as a symbol of fruitfulness, and that she may bear as easily as a hen lays an egg.
—”Jewish Lore and Tradition,”

Lots of unusual customs are associated with a Jewish wedding, most of them involving symbolic food, eggs and fish, to ensure fertility. Another joyous custom is yet another celebration of that match made in heaven (or JDate) — the “aufruf,” or calling up to the bimah.

On the Shabbat before the wedding, the betrothed couple is invited for an aliyah when the Torah is read. This serves to announce the forthcoming marriage to the community and allows everyone to wish the couple “mazel tov.” In Ashkenazic communities, the occasion of the aufruf further permitted anyone with information concerning impediments to the validity of the marriage to voice them. In Sephardic communities, the aufruf was celebrated with the throwing of nuts and candy. It is usually followed by a Kiddush and the entire community is invited to partake of the festive spread.

If your prenuptial celebrations include this ritual, think beyond herring, lox shmear and egg salad. The following, while not unconditionally guaranteed for fertility, are easy to make in advance with no last-minute cooking, and delicious additions to a Kiddush luncheon.

Asparagus and Red Pepper Frittata | Serves 12

2 large red bell peppers, coarsely chopped
3 shallots, chopped
1 medium zucchini, coarsely chopped
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 Tbs. olive oil
10 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs. thin asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces, cooked just until tender
1 cup grated cheese of choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish (3 quart).

In a large skillet cook bell peppers and shallots in butter over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until peppers are softened, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl whisk together eggs, cream, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir in asparagus, bell pepper mixture, zucchini and scallions. Pour custard into baking dish and bake in middle of oven until golden and set, about 25 minutes.

Sprinkle with cheese and bake another 10 minutes. Cool frittata on a rack.

Frittata may be made a day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring frittata to room temperature before serving. If desired, loosen frittata from edges of pan and slide onto a platter. Cut into squares.

Mediterranean Pasta Shell-Tuna Salad | Serves 12

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups diced seeded plum tomatoes
1 7-ounce can tuna, drained and flaked
2 cups chopped fresh fennel (about 1 /medium bulb)
1 cup chopped fresh basil
6 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1/4 cup drained capers
1 lb. small pasta shells, cooked and drained

Whisk olive oil, tomato paste, vinegar and garlic in small bowl to blend. Season dressing with salt and pepper.

Combine tomatoes, tuna, fennel, basil, onions, olives and capers in large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let tomato mixture stand at least 30 minutes, tossing occasionally.

Transfer pasta to large bowl. Pour dressing over and toss to coat. Add tomato mixture and toss to blend.

Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” Her columns alternate with those of Rebecca Ets-Hokin. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected].