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Kosher By Design: Lightens Up

Kosher By Design: Lightens Up

Lean and luscious: Susie Fishbein's new cookbook promotes a healthier lifestyle.

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Click here to order your copy of Kosher By Design: Lightens Up (and help support Aish.com!)

Chummos Canapes
PARVE -- MAKES 12 CHUMMOS CANAPES

Right after Superbowl 2008 (yay, Giants!), I read an article that claimed chips and dip were being replaced by chummos as the snack food of the year. Americans, growing more aware of healthier eating as well as developing a growing openness to international foods, have sparked a chummos renaissance. It is a fiber-rich snack, but be careful — some store-bought versions are very high in fat and preservatives. This homemade version serves up all the good stuff, while keeping the fats to a minimum. Be sure to make extra chummos; it makes a great lunchbox snack with baby carrots or pretzels.

The benefits of beans, such as chick peas, can't be emphasized enough. Add that to the iron and blood-glucose-lowering effect of cumin and you've got a recipe for good health! Dip with ease at this tasty favorite for all ages. Although chummos is found in many supermarkets today, it's a dish that's so easy to make at home.

1 (15-ounce) can chick peas (also known as garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons tahini paste (also known as Middle Eastern sesame paste)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cloves fresh garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
3-6 tablespoons water
3 slices whole wheat bread, toasted
1 kirby cucumber, sliced paper-thin
1/2 cup romaine lettuce, shredded
1 plum tomato, thinly sliced
alfalfa sprouts

Place the chick peas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until smooth and creamy. With the machine running, pour in the oil. If the consistency is too thick, drizzle in water, a little at a time, to thin as desired.
Spread a thin layer of chummos on the toasted bread slices. Top with 3–4 slices of cucumber. Top with some of the lettuce; drizzle with a little more chummos. Top with 2 slices of tomato and some sprouts. Press down to compact. Cut the crusts from the toast. Cut each slice of bread to form 4 small squares.

Roasted Beet Soup with Pumpernickel Croutons
MEAT, DAIRY, OR PARVE -- MAKES 8 SERVINGS

Many beet soup recipes begin with boiling the beets. When you do that, you lose nutrients, color, and flavor. I prefer roasting the beets — and I always make extra. The natural sugars in the beet caramelize and the texture is wonderful. Beets contain a wealth of fiber and are rich in folic acid, essential for preventing some anemias and neural-tube birth defects. Aside from their gorgeous color, roasted beets are delicious in salads with a sprinkle of goat-cheese crumbles, walnuts, and a light olive-oil vinaigrette.

4-5 large beets, scrubbed but not peeled
olive oil
3 slices pumpernickel bread
18 walnut halves
1/2 teaspoon ground or rubbed sage
1 large red onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup apple cider
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
low-fat sour cream or nondairy sour cream, such as Tofutti brand Sour Supreme®

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Rub each beet with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, coating all sides. Wrap individually in aluminum foil and place onto a cookie sheet. Place into the oven and roast for about 1 hour, 15 minutes or until tender.

Remove from oven and allow to stand until no longer hot to the touch. Using a paper towel, rub off the skins and discard. Cut the beets into quarters and set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare the roasted walnuts and croutons: Using a canape cutter or mini cookie cutter of any shape, cut 6 shapes out of each slice of pumpernickel bread. Place the cut-out pumpernickel shapes into a medium bowl with the walnuts. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the ground sage. Toss to coat. Place in a single layer on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and place in the hot oven for 5 minutes, until slightly toasted and fragrant. Set aside to cool.

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil into a large soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the red onion slices and cook; try not to get any color on the onion, just allow it to "sweat." Add the garlic slices and cook for 2 more minutes, until the garlic is fragrant. Pour in the apple cider, stock, and 1 cup water. Add the beets. Simmer for 5 minutes, until heated through.

Using an immersion blender, purée the soup. This can also be done in batches in a blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade. Season with salt.
To serve, divide the soup among 8 ramekins or small bowls. Top each with a teaspoon-size dollop of sour cream, 3 pumpernickel croutons, and 3 walnut halves.

Braised Turkey
MEAT -- MAKES 12-14 SERVINGS

I love a crisp-skinned centerpiece roast turkey, and my favorite recipe for this is in the original Kosher by Design. But on the other end of the turkey spectrum is my mom's turkey. It is a very soft, falling off the bone, kid-friendly, no-maintenance, no basting, comfort-food recipe. My kids and all my nieces and nephews request it constantly from her. She serves it at many holidays, because, unlike roast turkey, it remains moist and flavorful even when reheated for a few meals. Anyone who has ever attended my live cooking shows knows that I am very upfront about my freezer phobia, so, dare I say it, this recipe freezes well and may be even better after it has been frozen, defrosted, and reheated.

This "foundation" dish can be embellished in a variety of ways. Whether you serve it beside a medley of colorful vegetables, cut it into smaller pieces and toss it over your favorite salad, or serve it cold and chopped with apples, parsley, and light mayonnaise, this staple is a great way to add lean protein with lots of flavor.

13-pound turkey, cleaned
3 large onions, thinly sliced into rings
5 cloves fresh garlic, each cut in half lengthwise
3 tablespoons garlic powder, divided
6 tablespoons paprika, divided
1 cup ketchup
5 cups water
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place the onion rings and fresh garlic in a single layer into the bottom of a heavy roasting pan. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons garlic powder and 2 tablespoons of paprika.

Place the turkey on the onions. Rub 2 tablespoons paprika all over the outside and inside the cavity of the turkey.

In a medium bowl, whisk the ketchup, water, salt, remaining tablespoon garlic powder, and remaining 2 tablespoons paprika. Slowly, to prevent splattering, pour over the turkey and onto the onions.

Cover tightly, with a lid if possible. Roast for 31/2 hours.

Remove the turkey to a cutting board. Carve it and remove skin as desired. Transfer the turkey pieces to a serving dish.

Cover the roasting pan with foil to prevent splattering. Fold up the far right corner of the foil. Using a towel to protect your hand, tilt the pan away from you and, right in the pan, use an immersion blender to purée the onions into the sauce. If you do not have an immersion blender, scoop out the onions and transfer them with 1–2 cups of the liquid to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Purée. Pour this purée and remaining gravy over the carved turkey.

Argentinean Bison Steaks
MEAT -- MAKES 6 SERVINGS

The New York Times called bison "a steak without guilt," referring to the fact that it is widely praised by chefs, nutritionists, and environmentalists. It is a lean red meat that has less cholesterol than chicken with the skin removed and less fat than turkey. Due to the lack of fat, it cooks faster than beef — so watch your cooking times. Bison is grass-fed and free of growth hormones. A 3-ounce portion of bison supplies only 122 calories as compared with 3-ounces of beef, which could provide anywhere from 150 to 350 calories for the same portion, depending on the cut.
Argentina is known for beef, so I turned to a classic chimichurri to top this dish.

6 bison rib steaks
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 shallots, peeled
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
4 cloves fresh garlic
1 bunch parsley, stems discarded
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
nonstick cooking spray
2 tomatoes, wedged, for garnish

Season both sides of each steak with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, use on-off pulses to chop the shallot, green pepper, and garlic. Do not over-process. Scrape down the sides. Add the parsley, mint, and cumin; pulse 5–6 times. Transfer to a bowl. Mix in the olive oil and vinegar. Set aside.

Spray a nonstick grill pan or skillet with nonstick cooking spray. This can also be done on an outdoor grill. Heat the pan over medium heat until very hot. Add the steaks and sear for 6–7 minutes per side for perfect medium-rare. Serve each steak with a scoop of the chimichurri sauce and a tomato wedge.

Ratatouille Polenta Pie
MEAT OR PARVE -- MAKES 8 SERVINGS

Polenta is corn meal, which can be used to make the breakfast cereal grits and other comfort foods. Some recipes prepare it so it takes on the consistency of mashed potatoes. Here it forms a base for an elegant pie that holds all the makings of ratatouille. This recipe combines a medley of powerful veggies to give you a dish that not only keeps calories in check, but could also fight viruses and harmful bacteria and protect against cell damage that could set the stage for cancer.

5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 3/4 cups cornmeal
1/8 cup honey
nonstick cooking spray
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 zucchini, with skin, sliced paper-thin
1/2 small eggplant, with skin, sliced paper-thin
1/2 yellow squash, with skin, sliced paper-thin
2 plum tomatoes, sliced thin
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Heat the stock, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium pot over high heat. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. Reduce the heat to low. Keep whisking until the mixture is fluffy and not grainy. If the heat is too high, the polenta will get too thick before it is fully cooked. Add the honey and whisk continuously until the polenta is pulling away from the sides of the pot, about 7 minutes total. Remove from the heat.
Spray a 10-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Press the polenta into the bottom of the pan, forming a base.
Top with tomato sauce. Scatter the slices of zucchini, eggplant, squash, and tomato over the top of the pie. Season with the minced garlic. Drizzle with olive oil. Scatter on the oregano and remaining pepper.
Set the broiler to high. Place the pie 8 inches from the heat source and broil for 10–12 minutes.

Remove from oven. Place on a plate and carefully release the sides of the pan. Garnish with basil leaves. Slice and serve.

Butter Pecan Stuffed Peaches
DAIRY OR PARVE -- MAKES 8 SERVINGS

You can grill the peaches on a barbecue or in a grill pan; either way, grilling peaches brings out their natural sweetness. Choose peaches that are ripe but firm. If they are overripe they will collapse during the grilling. Grilled peaches can be stuffed with a small scoop of peach or vanilla low-fat ice cream or even with a dollop of mascarpone cheese. Agave is a natural sweetener, extracted from the agave plant. It is a low glycemic sweetener; that means that it is absorbed slowly into the body, which prevents spikes in blood sugar. It is sweeter than sugar so you need less.

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
11/2 tablespoons cold butter
or margarine, cut into bits
1/4 cup chopped pecans
4 peaches, ripe but not mushy
nonstick cooking spray
8 teaspoons agave nectar
or honey, divided

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line a jelly-roll pan with aluminum foil. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour and sugar. Add the butter or margarine. Using your fingertips, pinch until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the pecans.
Pat the mixture into an even 6- by 8-inch rectangle on the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes, or until mixture is lightly toasted and fragrant. Cool.
Meanwhile, halve the peaches and use a melon baller to help dig out the pits and discard them. Spray the cut surfaces with nonstick cooking spray.
Spray a grill pan or grill with nonstick cooking spray. Heat over medium. When the pan or grill is hot, add the peaches, cut-side-down. Do not move them so that nice grill marks will form. Grill for 3–4 minutes, until the flesh is caramelized. Turn the peaches over and grill for an additional 3 minutes.
Remove the peaches and fill the cavity of each half with some of the butter-pecan mix.
Serve the peaches warm, drizzled with 1 teaspoon agave per half. The peaches can be grilled in advance and re-warmed.

Published: November 15, 2008


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Visitor Comments: 3

(3) Elka, November 19, 2008 2:53 PM

Can skip the Tahini

I have made chumos many times skipping the sesame paste when I didn't have any, it still tasted great.

(2) Orly, November 17, 2008 12:11 PM

Substitute suggestion

I haven't tried it, and I don't know if you are allergic to the following, but maybe natural peanut, cashew or almond butter might be a good substitute for the tahini paste.

(1) Anonymous, November 16, 2008 12:58 PM

Allergy subtitution?

Could you suggest a subtitute for tahini (in the hummus recipe) for those allergic to it?

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