Continuing with the theme of healthy eating, I am including two fabulous recipes from “The Healthy Jewish Cookbook: 100 Delicious Recipes from Around the World” by Michael van Straten, published by North Atlantic Books, copyright © 2005 by Michael van Straten. Reprinted by permission of publisher.

The Jewish Standard reviewed this terrific cookbook when it was first published. What intrigued me was the foreward by Bunny Grossinger, of Grossinger’s Hotel and Country Club fame, which says “because food and my family are synonymous in my psyche, you can imagine how excited I was to write an introduction to this incredible book that you are about to make part of your life.” I believe that endorsement says it all.

Enjoy the two recipes and remember, eating healthy and using kosher recipes can happen!!!

Orange beets with almonds

Serves 4

4 medium cooked beets (not picked), cubed
2 1/4 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
Orange zest, optional
5 tbsp. olive oil
3 ounces (about ¾ cup) sliced almonds

Put the beets, orange juice, and orange zest (if using), and olive oil in a pan and simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Turn up the heat and boil until most of the liquid is reduced.

Meanwhile, dry-fry the almonds until just golden-about 2 minutes. Serve the beets in their juice with the almonds scattered on top.

Commentary:

The ancient Greeks used beets as a medicine and also as offerings to their gods. In Eastern Europe, this vibrant red vegetable is valued as a blood strengthener. It is found throughout Europe, North Africa, and Asia, and especially in Poland and Russia, where beets soup is a national dish.

This recipe combines two favorite Jewish ingredients: beets, which have been part of Jewish cuisine since around the 4th century, and almonds, which are mentioned in the Book of Genesis. In both Ashkenazi and Sephardic communities, almonds are a symbolic food on all festive occasions. They are rich in protein, vital minerals, and B vitamins, and make a perfect companion to the valuable nutrients present in beets.

Spiced vegetable lasagne

Serves 6

For the white sauce

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2 1/4 cups soy milk

For the lasagne

1 large onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
About 3 tbsp. olive oil
3 zucchinis, cubed
1 large eggplant, cubed
3 large, thin-skinned tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. tomato paste
3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tbsp. dried)
14 ounces dried lasagne, cooked according to the package instructions
3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
6 dill fronds

Method

First, make the white sauce. Melt the butter gently in a large frying pan. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour and cumin, Return to a gentle heat and cook, stirring continuously, for 2 minutes. Gradually add the soy milk, still stirring continuously, until thickened.

To make the lasagne, preheat the oven to 425. In a large pan sweat the onion and garlic gently in 2 tbsp. of the oil until softened but not browned. Add the zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, tomato paste, and oregano, and continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring continuously.

Grease a wide, shallow, ovenproof pasta dish with the olive oil. Put in one layer of the cooked lasagne sheets. Add half the vegetable mixture and a third of the white sauce. Add another layer of the lasagne sheets. Follow with the remaining vegetable mixture and another third of the sauce. Add another layer of lasagne sheets and the remaining sauce, making sure the pasta is well covered with the sauce.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with Parmesan and dill, and return to the oven for 5 minutes.

Health note:

Healthy enough on its own, with all the protective benefits of onions, garlic, and the vegetables, the white sauce is made here with soy milk for extra isoflavones. These hormone-like chemicals help protect against osteoporosis and menstrual problems.