A new cookbook revamps classics with healthful eating in mind

MOST Jewish cookbooks have too many recipes with processed ingredients, not enough whole grains, too much salt and fat and too much sugar, even in savoury dishes.

My goal was to create recipes that use only natural ingredients.

I banished margarine, frozen puff pastry, soup stocks and powders, and most jarred sauces.

I gave up frying and created baked goods with as much whole-grain flour as I could.

I reduced sugar; most of my desserts contain less than a half-cup.

Kosher food is notoriously oversalted; these recipes have a minimal amount.

I found that adding an extra pinch of kosher salt just before serving pumps up the flavour.

My recipes include Jewish classics made healthier and updated for the modern table, and American and international recipes that reflect food trends beyond the Jewish culinary world. Some do require planning and time management.

You can start soaking beans or rice before you go to sleep.

You can gather ingredients long before you begin to cook. Make soups and freeze them in advance. And if you have 15 minutes free in the middle of the day, make a part of the meal.

Variety is the key to a delicious, nutritious meal and the best way to persuade your people to go on a healthier eating journey with you.

When I plan a meal for my family, I make sure every dinner plate has colours and textures. I offer both raw and cooked vegetables.

This is a way for you to start eating better – try a recipe or two each day.

Good nutrition is about balance and finding a way to introduce into your diet more and more healthful food, as often as possible. – Text & Photos by The Washington Post


Eggplant With Capers and Mint

Four to six servings, Healthy

This is simple but looks impressive. To cook the eggplant on a gas grill, see the NOTE, below.

MAKE AHEAD: The dish can be refrigerated for up to two days; let it come to room temperature before serving.


Ingredients

Three to six tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

One large (1 3/4 pounds) eggplant (unpeeled), cut into 3/4-inch-thick rounds

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion (from 1/4 medium red onion)

1/4 cup capers, drained (see VARIATION, below)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

One handful small fresh mint leaves, whole or chopped, for garnish


Steps

POSITION an oven rack four to six inches from the broiler; preheat to broil.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminium foil, or have a broiler pan at hand.

Use a few tablespoons of the oil (to taste) to brush both sides of each eggplant slice, arranging them in a single layer on the pan or baking sheet as you work.

Broil for five minutes, or until the slices are browned.

Use tongs or a fork to turn over the eggplant slices and broil them for about five minutes on the second sides.

Let cool for three minutes, then transfer to a serving platter.

Combine the chopped red onion, capers and the remaining tablespoons of oil (again, to taste) in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper, then stir to incorporate.

Scatter the red onion mixture over the eggplant slices. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt, then scatter the mint over the top.

Serve at room temperature.

VARIATION: Instead of a final sprinkling of kosher salt, you could add one tablespoon of caper brine to the dressing.

NOTE: To grill the eggplant, preheat a gas grill to 400 degrees. Brush the eggplant slices with oil on both sides; close the lid and grill for a few minutes on the first side, then turn them over, close the lid and grill until fork-tender.

Nutrition | Per serving (based on six, using five tablespoons oil): 140 calories, 2g protein, 9g carbohydrates, 12g fat, 2g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 210mg sodium, 4g dietary fibre, 5g sugar

Winter Salad

Six servings, Healthy

FEEL free to use precooked beets, which can be found in most supermarkets.

MAKE AHEAD: The beets can be cooked and refrigerated up to three days in advance; the salad can be assembled and refrigerated a day in advance.


Ingredients

For the salad:

Three medium red beets (unpeeled, greens trimmed)

About 1/2 red cabbage, shredded (two cups)

One radicchio, cut into one-and-a-half-inch chunks (about two –and-a-half cups)

1/2 small red onion, cut into very thin half moons

Two red radishes, cut into thin slices using a vegetable peeler

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (arils; optional)

For the dressing:

One teaspoon finely grated orange zest and two tablespoons juice (from one orange)

One tablespoon finely chopped shallot

One tablespoon plus one teaspoon balsamic vinegar

One teaspoon honey

Three tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more as needed

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more as needed


Steps

FOR the salad: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse, dry and then wrap each beet in aluminium foil.

Place them on a rimmed baking sheet; roast (middle rack) for 45 minutes, or until you can pierce the centres with a fork. Let cool, then peel the beets and cut them into one-inch chunks.

Meanwhile, make the dressing: Whisk together the orange zest and juice, shallot, balsamic vinegar, honey, oil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl to form an emulsified dressing.

To assemble the salad, combine the cabbage, radicchio, red onion, radish slices, cranberries and beets in a mixing bowl. Pour the dressing over the top and toss gently to coat. Taste, and add more salt and/or pepper, as needed.

Scatter the pomegranate seeds on top, if desired, and serve.

Nutrition | Per serving: 140 calories, 2g protein, 19g carbohydrates, 7g fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 115mg sodium, 4g dietary fibre, 14g sugar

Ribollita

Eight to 10 servings (makes 16 cups), Healthy

THIS hearty Italian classic is typically made with stale bread, but you won’t miss it here.

To make the prep easier, you can chop the vegetables and refrigerate them (separately) the night before.

MAKE AHEAD: The soup can be refrigerated up to three days in advance.


Ingredients

Two tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

One large yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Two leeks, white and light-green parts only, cut into quarters, then thinly sliced and rinsed well

Two medium carrots, scrubbed well and cut crosswise into thin rounds

Two ribs celery, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

Two cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

Two 15.5-ounce cans no-salt-added cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Seven cups water

Three tomatoes, seeded and cut into one-inch pieces

One medium zucchini, cut into one-inch pieces

One cup peeled butternut squash chunks, cut into 3/4- to one-inch pieces

10 leaves lacinato kale, stemmed and cut into one-and-a-half-inch pieces, (one-and-a-half to two cups; may substitute curly kale)

Leaves from six sprigs fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

One large starchy potato, peeled and cut into 3/4 to one-inch chunks

1/2 packed cup basil leaves, thinly sliced, for garnish


Steps

HEAT the oil in a large saucepan or soup pot over medium-low heat.

Add the onion, leeks, carrots, celery and garlic and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.

If the vegetables start to brown, reduce the heat.

Meanwhile, place half the cannellini beans in a food processor.

Add 1/2 cup of the water and puree until smooth.

Add the tomatoes to the saucepan; increase the heat to medium and cook for eight minutes, stirring often, then add the zucchini, squash, kale and thyme.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for five minutes, then add the salt and pepper, the remaining six-and-a-half cups of water, the pureed beans and the potato.

Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then stir in the remaining beans.

Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the squash and potato are barely fork-tender.

Taste and add salt and/or pepper, as needed.

Add the basil and serve hot.

Nutrition | Per serving (based on 10): 190 calories, 10g protein, 31g carbohydrates, 4g fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 80mg sodium, 7g dietary fibre, 3g sugar

Indian Barbecued Chicken

Six servings

THIS spicy dish was inspired by recipes from a community cookbook produced in Chicago by women from the Kerala region of India.

Some smaller or boneless pieces will be done before the large ones, so check each piece in the final stages of oven time.

MAKE AHEAD: The chicken needs to marinate for at least two hours, and up to overnight. The cooked chicken can be refrigerated for up to two days.


Ingredients

One three-and-a-half to four-pound chicken, cut into eight pieces (some bone-in or boneless; see directions)

Three scallions, ends trimmed, cut into thirds

One medium yellow onion, cut into quarters

One two-inch piece peeled fresh ginger root, coarsely chopped (about two-and-a-half tablespoons)

1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from one lemon)

Three tablespoons liquefied coconut oil

Five cloves garlic, smashed

One tablespoon ground turmeric

One teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper, such as Kashmiri chili pepper

Two jalapeños or other green chiles, stemmed and seeded


Steps

PLACE the chicken in a large roasting pan that you will use later, for roasting.

Combine the scallions, onion, ginger, cilantro, lemon juice, coconut oil, garlic, turmeric, cardamom, salt, red pepper and jalapeños in the bowl of a food processor, and process into a paste. Using a silicone spatula or gloved hand, spread the paste all over the chicken pieces. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours, or up to overnight.

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven; preheat to broil.

Broil the chicken for 20 minutes; it will blacken somewhat. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake the chicken for an additional 30 minutes (bone-in) or for 10 to 15 minutes (small or boneless), or until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a fork (or until an internal temperature of 165 degrees registers on an instant-read thermometer).

Serve warm, with hot marinade and juices spooned from the pan.

Nutrition | Per serving: 250 calories, 26g protein, 5g carbohydrates, 14g fat, 8g saturated fat, 75mg cholesterol, 125mg sodium, 0g dietary fibre, 1g sugar