Although in modern times Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, it originally commemorated the end of the barley season-beginning of the wheat season and the first fruits of the land (usually figs) brought to the Temple as an offering. Dairy products became associated with the holiday and many theories abound about this connection. Perhaps the association stems from the fact that at this time of year the animals are grazing and milk is abundant. It is told that when the laws were given at Mt. Sinai they included the laws of Kashrut which rendered all previously prepared meat and utensils unclean and therefore the Jews had only grains and dairy to eat. In America, where the Ashkenazi traditions often overshadow other regional culinary traditions, blintzes have become iconic for Shavuot. Filled with cheese, and placed side by side on a plate, these rectangular pillows of sweetened cheese resemble the two tablets given to Moses on Mt. Sinai.
This culinary tradition can be a curse if you are one of the overwhelmingly large percentage of people who are lactose intolerant and, if you are truly allergic to dairy foods (different from intolerance where one can eat lactose free dairy foods), you can feel totally left out. Fear not! I have created the perfect dairy-free, gluten-free “cheese” tart for your dining pleasure! In addition to this recipe, check out my Deluxe Noodle Kugel which is loaded with dairy, BUT, my friend Jill substitutes non-dairy cream cheese, sour cream and butter for the originals and everyone still raves about it.
So, come Shavuot, you can have your cake and eat it too!
Eat in Good Health!