Faith Kramer's Pasta with Peas and Tiny Potatoes in Retro Curry Sauce (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Faith Kramer's Pasta with Peas and Tiny Potatoes in Retro Curry Sauce (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Why we eat symbolic round foods at Jewish lifecycle events

Ever wonder why round and oval foods were served at that Jewish lifecycle event — perhaps it was a shiva, a bris or a baby-naming — you recently attended? That’s because they are thought to represent the circle of life.

Bringing food for mourners and new parents is also a traditional gesture of support. These recipes add a comfort-food factor, and both dishes can be made ahead and are easy to transport.

One of my favorite comfort foods is noodles with cottage cheese. In the recipe Pasta with Peas and Tiny Potatoes in Retro Curry Sauce, the noodles are dressed up with a mild sauce, green peas and potatoes.

Deviled eggs are a tradition at many lifecycle events, but can be time-consuming to make. Try this Deviled Egg Dip, perhaps serving it with steamed, bite-size whole potatoes, cherry tomatoes or pretzel rings. The recipe multiplies well for larger quantities.

Pasta with Peas and Tiny Potatoes in Retro Curry Sauce

Serves 8-10 as side dish

  • 4 cups cooked bow tie (farfalle) pasta, drained, tossed in 1 Tbs. oil
  • 1½ cups shelled green peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 1½ lbs. tiny (about 1½-inch diameter) potatoes
  • 1 Tbs. oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 4 Tbs. flour
  • 2½ cups warm milk
  • 1 Tbs. curry powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. ground red pepper (cayenne) or to taste
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 tsp. paprika, optional
  • 2 Tbs. chopped parsley

Have pasta ready. Separately steam peas and potatoes in lightly salted water until just tender, drain. Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Sauté onion until soft. Add garlic and sauté until golden. Set aside. Melt butter in medium pot over medium-low heat until melted. Slowly whisk in flour until smooth. Bring to a simmer, and cook stirring for a minute. Slowly whisk in milk until smooth, bring just to a boil, then lower heat to keep at a simmer. Keep whisking, adding curry powder, salt, pepper, turmeric, ginger and red pepper. Keep mixture at a simmer and constantly whisk until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Once sauce is ready, immediately combine with pasta, peas, potatoes, onions and cottage cheese in pot over low heat until heated through. Serve sprinkled with paprika and garnished with parsley.

Casserole variation: Place pasta with vegetables and sauce in baking dish. Sprinkle top with 2 to 3 cups fresh bread crumbs. Cut 1 Tbs. butter into small pieces and dot top. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake in 350-degree oven until browned and warmed through. Garnish with parsley.

Deviled Egg Dip

Makes 1 cup

  • 2 large hard-boiled eggs
  • ½ cup mayonnaise, plus extra if needed
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp. mustard powder (also called dry mustard)
  • 1 Tbs. minced parsley
  • ⅛ tsp. salt
  • ⅛ tsp. ground black pepper
  • ⅛ tsp. plus ¼ tsp. paprika
  • ¼ tsp. hot sauce, or to taste
  • 1 green onion (scallion)
  • Dippers (see notes)

Finely chop cooked egg whites. Mash yolks well. Combine both with mayonnaise, mustard, mustard powder, parsley, salt, pepper, ⅛ tsp. paprika and hot sauce. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings and add more mayonnaise if needed. Refrigerate if made ahead and bring back to room temperature. Sprinkle with remaining paprika. Chop both white and green parts of green onion and sprinkle on to garnish.

Dippers: Cherry tomatoes, bite-size whole steamed potatoes, small hard-boiled chicken eggs, hard-boiled quail eggs, pretzel rings and round crackers, or use dippers of your choice.

Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. She blogs about her food at Contact Faith at [email protected].