A summertime dinner that’s tasty and good for you


When kosher restauranteur, master chef and cookbook author, Levana Kirschenbaum was a child, her mother treated every illness with food. She went beyond chicken soup to baked sweet potato for nausea and boiled milk with ginger and cloves for sore throats.

Kirschenbaum has taken the healing power of foods to a delicious new level with her new cookbook The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen ($39.95, Amazon.com). Her delicious recipes make it easy to eat your way to a healthy life.

Below is a selection of the recipes found in the cookbook, perfect for a summer dinner.

– Meredith Jacobs


Appetizer (serve with pita)

This is one of our Moroccan favorite dishes, a sort of comfort food for expats and honorary Sephardis alike: See how they mop that sauce with their bread. Shakshuka is nothing more than Matbukha with eggs scrambled into it and served as a main course, and gets its funny name from the Arabic word for “scramble.”

Cooked Tomato Salad: Matbukha

1 whole head garlic
2 red bell peppers, washed, cored, and seeded
2-3 jalapeno peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large beefsteak tomatoes, or 8 plum tomatoes, diced small (settle for 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, liquid and all)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons paprika
3 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Slice about 1/4 inch off the pointed end of the head of garlic, leaving the cloves exposed. Drizzle the olive oil onto the garlic and the peppers, place them on a cookie sheet, and roast for 30 minutes, or until the garlic is soft and the peppers are charred (the peppers might be ready a few minutes before the garlic). Press the cloves out of their skins while still warm and mash with a fork. Peel the peppers and cut them into thin strips.

In a heavy, wide-bottom pot, bring the tomatoes, oil and paprika to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, add the roasted garlic and peppers, and cook covered for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently. All the liquid should evaporate, and the oil will resurface (if you neglect this step, you will not get the desired look and texture but a glorified tomato sauce.) Add the minced garlic and the salt and pepper to taste. Let cool and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator. It will keep up to two weeks. Use a slotted spoon to serve so the oil stays behind. Makes about 3 cups.

Variation: Shakshuka

Stir 8 eggs into the Matbukha on a medium flame, mixing thoroughly with a wooden spoon, and cook just a few more minutes, until the eggs are barely set. If you would rather end up with a more pristine look, leave the eggs whole, break them one by one, and set them over the mixture, close but not touching, and cook covered on a low flame until they look barely set.

Serve hot, alone or with a good whole-grain bread, or on a bed of cooked (canned OK) white beans (except on Passover). Makes 8 servings.


This is one of my¬≠ – and many of my regulars’ – great favorites. The short and dazzling flavor lineup does its magic with practically no work. You will never say you are bored of salmon again! Bluefish will be suitable here, as well as any thick white fish (bass, mahimahi, halibut, etc.).

Roasted Salmon with Maple Glaze

1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon cracked pepper, or less to taste
1 whole side salmon, about 3 1/2 pounds, skin off, bones out, trimmed

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Mix all but last ingredient in a bowl. Place the salmon skin side up in a baking pan just large enough to fit it snugly in one layer (if you have empty spaces, the liquids will burn). Pour the sauce evenly over the fish. Bake 18 minutes, or a minute or two longer, until the fish is tender by firm to the touch. Transfer to a platter and pour the cooking juices over the fish. Serve hot, or at room temperature. Makes 8 main course servings, or a dozen ample first course servings.

Side Dish

Everyone loves a plate of grilled veggies, to eat as is or to use as a filling for sandwiches. I have chosen to share the most ridiculously simple way. First of all, my “grilled’ veggies are roasted, requiring no turning over and no maintenance. Second, the trick is to combine your veggies according to their cooking time. To the selection below, you can add string beans, asparagus, endives, radishes, brussel sprouts and fennel; but you will roast carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips and potatoes separately because they require a longer cooking time. Roast beets all by themselves so they don’t bleed into your other veggies, or use the wonderful golden beets now available at all good produce stores. For all roasting, remember, one layer, no piling! Lining the baking sheet with foil reduces, or sometimes even eliminates, cleaning.

When the vegetables are roasted, go ahead and get a little fancier if you wish: toss in a little olive oil, chopped fresh basil, a few drops of balsamic vinegar, and a little ground pepper. Most often, I add nothing at all!

Roasted Vegetables

2 large zucchini, cut in thick sticks
2 large red onions, sliced thick
3 large red peppers, cut in large sections
1 large eggplant, cut in thick slices
2 large portobello mushrooms, caps and stems separated, stems cut in half
Sea salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet (you might need 2) with foil. Spray heavily with vegetable oil spray. Place the vegetables snuggly and in one layer on the cookie sheet.

Spray heavily again with vegetable oil spray. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables look lightly charred. The mushrooms (or string beans or asparagus) might be ready first: take them out and roast the remaining vegetables a little longer. When the mushrooms are cool enough to handle, slice them on a bias.


This is the only chocolate cake you will ever need to make. The mixture of soy milk and lemon juice curdles and yield a cake as tender and moist as chocolate cake made with yogurt or buttermilk, only this one has the advantage of being dairy-free. No problem replacing this mixture with 1 cup yogurt or dairy-free yogurt, and proceeding with the recipe as instructed. Do not be alarmed at the large amount of sugar used (this cake yields about 20 servings!) and do not try to reduce it or the cake will be bitter.

Chocolate Cake

1 cup soy milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 2/3 cups flour: all-purpose, whole-wheat pastry, or spelt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Good pinch salt
1 1/4 cups best quality cocoa powder
1 cup hot water
3 tablespoons instant coffee or espresso powder
3 tablespoons brandy, rum or bourbon
4 eggs
2 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix the soy milk and lemon juice, and set aside. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa in a bowl, and set aside. Mix the hot water with the coffee and brandy in another bowl, and set aside. In a food processor, beat the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the oil and beat. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture alternately with the coffee mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, just incorporating the addition each time, 2-3 pulses. Add the reserved soy milk mixture, and mix again a few more seconds. The batter will be very runny: don’t worry! Pour the batter into a greased and lightly floured 10-inch spring form pan or Bundt pan. Bake for 75 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Unmold and invert onto a cooling rack. Serve alone or with a drizzle of caramel sauce (page 39) or a dollop of chocolate espresso mousse (page 348) or hazelnut mousse (page 349). Makes 20 ample servings.

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