cover image Healthy Cooking for the Jewish Home

Healthy Cooking for the Jewish Home

Faye Levy, . . Morrow, $29.95 (394pp) ISBN 978-0-06-078784-4

Healthy isn't an adjective usually paired with Jewish cooking, but Levy (Feast from the Mideast ) puts a distinctive California spin on notoriously rich recipes to make them palatable to the waistline conscious. In addition to lightening classics like cholent and kugel, Levy features many “Ashkephardic” fusion dishes where the healthier (Sephardic) cooking traditions restore flavor when it is lost in the slimming down of east European Jewish (Ashkenazi) recipes. Hearty buckwheat blintzes are filled with goat cheese and ratatouille; turkey schnitzel is served over an Alsatian sweet-sour onion compote. Elsewhere Levy livens things up by adding New World and East Asian ingredients to old standbys, making a staid Israeli salad pop with pepitas and papaya, and accompanying potato latkes for Hannukah with baked tofu in sweet-and-sour ginger sauce. The book's first half progresses through the year's main holidays, from Rosh Hashanah to Shavuot, providing a dozen or so modernized recipes for each; the second half features dishes for separate courses, almost all venturing far afield from stereotypical Jewish food so that they could almost be from any cookbook. Those who are less sure-footed with kosher rules and techniques may be frustrated by Levy's focus on recipes' nutritional aspects rather than on religious questions. Still, anyone who has despaired of being able to reconcile healthy eating with hearty, comforting Jewish favorites will be thrilled at Levy's demonstrations of the contemporary possibilities for the cuisine. (Mar. 11)