Revamped, healthy classics

Recipes from “The Healthy Jewish Kitchen” go beyond kosher.

Editor’s note: While perusing Paula Shoyer’s new “The Healthy Jewish Kitchen: Fresh, Contemporary Recipes for Every Occasion” (Sterling Epicure, 2017), it occurred to us that her dishes have appeal far beyond what is kosher. Many of the recipes are vegan and gluten-free, for example, and just about all of them are simple enough for entry-level cooks. The following is excerpted from the cookbook.

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 savory 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 flavor.

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 colors 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.


These dishes can put you on the path to getting back on path to eating better and getting proper nutrition.

Eggplant With Capers and Mint

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 2 days; let it come to room temperature before serving.

3 to 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 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

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

Position an oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler; preheat to broil. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum 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 5 minutes, or until the slices are browned. Use tongs or a fork to turn over the eggplant slices and broil them for about 5 minutes on the second sides. Let cool for 3 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. Serves 4 to 6.

Variation: Instead of a final sprinkling of kosher salt, you could add 1 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.

Per serving (based on 6, using 5 tablespoons oil): 140 calories, 2 g protein, 9 g carbohydrates, 12 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 210 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 5 g sugar

All recipes adapted from “The Healthy Jewish Kitchen: Fresh, Contemporary Recipes for Every Occasion,” by Paula Shoyer (Sterling Epicure, 2017).

Winter Salad

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

Make ahead: The beets can be cooked and refrigerated up to 3 days in advance; the salad can be assembled and refrigerated a day in advance.

For the salad

3 medium red beets (unpeeled, greens trimmed)

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

1 radicchio, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks (about 2 1/2 cups)

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

2 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

1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest and 2 tablespoons juice (from 1 orange)

1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

3 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

For the salad: Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse, dry and then wrap each beet in aluminum foil. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet; roast (middle rack) for 45 minutes, or until you can pierce the centers with a fork. Let cool, then peel the beets and cut them into 1-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. Serves 6.

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


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 3 days in advance.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

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

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

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

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

2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

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

7 cups water

3 tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup peeled butternut squash chunks, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces

10 leaves lacinato kale, stemmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces, (1 1/2 to 2 cups; may substitute curly kale)

Leaves from 6 sprigs fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

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

1 large starchy potato, peeled and cut into 3/4- to 1-inch chunks

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

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 8 minutes, stirring often, then add the zucchini, squash, kale and thyme. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes, then add the salt and pepper, the remaining 6 1/2 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. Serves 8 to 10 (makes 16 cups).

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

Indian Barbecued Chicken

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 2 hours, and up to overnight. The cooked chicken can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

One 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces (some bone-in or boneless; see directions)

3 scallions, ends trimmed, cut into thirds

1 medium yellow onion, cut into quarters

One 2-inch piece peeled fresh ginger root, coarsely chopped (about 2 1/2 tablespoons)

1/2 cup packed cilantro leaves

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

3 tablespoons liquefied coconut oil

5 cloves garlic, smashed

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

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

2 jalapeños or other green chiles, stemmed and seeded

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 2 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. Serves 6.

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

Dry-Rubbed Roasted Salmon

Here, a quick blend of spices typically used to cure pastrami coats the fish and keeps it moist, without any added oil. Feel free to add more black peppercorns to the spice mix if you want more kick. You can use an instant-read thermometer to measure the doneness of the salmon.

Make ahead: The spice rub can be made up to 1 week in advance. The fish needs to rest in its dry rub for 30 minutes at room temperature. It can be cooked and refrigerated a day in advance.

1 tablespoon coriander seed

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

1 tablespoon black or yellow mustard seed

2 teaspoons dried juniper berries

1 teaspoon fennel seed

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

2 teaspoons granulated garlic (garlic powder)

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (pimenton; may substitute sweet paprika)

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Six 8-ounce skin-on salmon fillets (from one 3-pound salmon fillet)

Combine the coriander seed, black peppercorns, mustard seed, juniper berries and fennel seed in a designated spice grinder and pulse to a fairly fine consistency (or you can crush them using a mortar and pestle or in a sealed zip-top bag and crush with a rolling pin). Transfer to a medium bowl, then stir in the brown sugar, garlic and onion powders, paprika, cloves and salt to form a well-blended spice rub. The yield is 1/3 cup. Spread the rub across a plate.

Press the tops and sides of each portion of salmon fillet into the rub, using it all. Place the fish on a roasting pan, spacing the fillets well apart. Cover with plastic wrap and let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Serves 6.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roast (middle rack) for 20 to 22 minutes, depending on the desired degree of doneness (125 degrees for medium-rare). Serve warm or at room temperature.

Per serving: 350 calories, 46 g protein, 4 g carbohydrates, 15 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 125 mg cholesterol, 200 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 1 g sugar

Chopped String Beans With Basil and Pine Nuts

This very simple side dish — loaded with a refreshing amount of basil — could become a main when strewn warm over salad greens.

It’s best to use haricots verts, which are thin French string beans, if you can find them.

Make ahead: The dish (minus the basil and pine nuts) can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat the beans over low heat, then add the remaining ingredients.

1/2 cup pine nuts

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 pounds haricots verts, or regular string beans, trimmed and chopped into 3/4-inch pieces

1 tablespoon water, if using haricots verts, or 2 tablespoons water, if using regular string beans

1/4 teaspoon salt, or more as needed

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

1 cup packed basil leaves, stacked, rolled and cut crosswise into ribbons (chiffonade)

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and toast, stirring constantly, until lightly browned and fragrant. Transfer to a plate to cool.

Heat the oil in the same pan (medium heat). Once the oil shimmers, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring a few times. Increase the heat to medium-high; add the beans and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the water, cover and cook for 4 minutes. If the beans are still not fork-tender, cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Season with the salt and pepper, then remove from the heat.

Add the toasted pine nuts and basil while the beans are still warm. Taste, and season with more salt and pepper, as needed. Serve right away. Serves 6 to 8.

Per serving (based on 8): 120 calories, 3 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 9 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 80 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar

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