Recipes so easy, even students will give it the old college try

Like many other Bay Area young adults, my son has moved back to college. Like many other Jewish parents, I hope he finds a way to celebrate Shabbat with his friends and classmates.

I know many campuses have organizations that sponsor Shabbat dinners, but I especially like the idea of students getting together to cook dinner, light the Shabbat candles (perhaps using those candlesticks they got as b’nai mitzvah presents) and enjoy the renewal of spirit and connection that comes with this Friday night tradition.

Below are recipes created to be relatively easy for those with minimal access to cooking equipment and spices and other ingredients. So clip out this article (or go online and find the link at and send it on to your student.

One-Dish Baked Chicken Dinner

Serves 3-4

4 medium boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1 to     11⁄2 lbs.)

2 Tbs. oil, divided

1⁄2 tsp. salt, divided

1 tsp. ground black pepper,     divided

11⁄2 tsp. Italian seasoning, divided

1 tsp. paprika, divided

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped and divided

3-4 small baking potatoes, thinly sliced (peeling optional)

1 small onion, thinly sliced

2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 cup chicken broth

Place chicken with half of the oil, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, paprika and garlic in a sturdy zipper-lock plastic storage bag. Let chicken marinate for an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use remaining oil to grease a baking pan that will fit inside toaster oven (approximately 8×10 inches) or up to a 9×12-inch pan for the regular oven. Layer potato slices, then onions, then tomatoes. Add stock. Scatter remaining salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and garlic evenly over vegetable layers.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake until potatoes are beginning to soften. Remove from oven and remove foil. Place marinated chicken thighs on top of vegetable mixture. Pour marinade mixture over chicken. Sprinkle with remaining paprika. Return to oven and bake uncovered until chicken and vegetables are cooked through. Cover with foil if dish begins to dry out while baking.

Toaster oven and regular oven cooking times will vary. When pressing on the chicken thigh offers some resistance, check that it is done by cutting into it.


Microwave Ratatouille with White Beans

Serves 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a side dish

3 tsp. olive oil, divided

1⁄2 small onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 small red bell pepper, cut into 1⁄4-inch chunks

1 medium eggplant (about

1 lb.), unpeeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch chunks

1 medium zucchini, cut into 1⁄2-inch chunks

1 14.5-oz. can diced tomato with liquid

11⁄2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1⁄2 tsp. ground black pepper

1⁄2 tsp. salt

1 15-oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained

Put 2 tsp. oil into a microwave-safe casserole or baking dish about 81⁄2 inches in diameter and 3 inches deep. Heat in microwave on high for 30 seconds. Add onions and garlic, stir. Cook on high for 1 minute.

Add bell pepper and eggplant. Stir. Cook on high, covered, for 6 minutes. Add zucchini, tomato with liquid, Italian seasoning, pepper and salt. Stir. Cook on high, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir, rotate dish 1⁄4 turn, cover, cook on high 5 minutes. Add beans. Stir. Cover, cook on high for 5 minutes. Stir, rotate 1⁄4 turn, cover, cook for 5 minutes more.

Stew should be bubbling and eggplant very soft all the way through. If needed, cover and continue to cook in 2-minute increments. When ratatouille is done, cover and let sit for 3 minutes. Stir in remaining oil.

Serve over pasta or rice for a filling vegetarian main dish.

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. She blogs her food at Contact her at

Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. She blogs about her food at Contact Faith at