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Try These Veggie Tales on for Size!

March 30, 2006
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Looking for new and healthy recipes that are also kosher for Passover? Here are a few that stress fruits and vegetables from the recently published The Jewishly Jewish Cookbook by Michael van Straten.

Warm Smoked Salmon With Raspberries
This recipe came from a Jewish friend who worked for some years in Japan. It's his adaptation of sushi, which, thanks to the oil fish makes a healthy, high-protein appetizer that is also attractive to look at. Wasabi has a wonderful hot and sweet flavor, and is believed to have cancer-fighting properties. How different can you get from the traditional plate of smoked salmon?
10 oz. smoked salmon (lox), cut in 1 thick slice 
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 
1 bunch watercress 
1/2 fennel bulb, thinly sliced lengthwise 
1 small carton of raspberries (about 20) 
black pepper 
wasabi (a hot green paste made from Japanese sea cabbage) 
1 lemon, quartered

Cut the smoked salmon into strips about 1-inch long. Put into a small, wide pan along with the balsamic vinegar, and heat gently, stirring lightly, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

On individual plates, make mounds of the watercress, then the fennel, then the raspberries.

Arrange the warm smoked salmon strips on top.

Pour the warm balsamic vinegar over them.

Give each serving a twist of black pepper, and put a generous teaspoon of wasabi on the side of each plate. Serve garnished with the lemon quarters.

Makes 2 to 3 servings.

Quick Borscht
Beets are one of the greatest of health-giving vegetables. They were revered by the ancient Greeks, used by the Romanies as a blood-building medicine, and are given to convalescent patients in Russia, Poland and most of Eastern Europe to this day. In traditional medicine, beets have been used as a treatment for leukemia and anemia, and modern science has discovered specific anti-carcinogens in this vegetable's red coloring.

2 lbs. fresh beets, peeled and cubed (about 41/2 to 51/2 cups) 
1 medium turnip 
2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped 
2 garlic cloves 
2 carrots, coarsely chopped 
3 Tbsps. olive oil 
4 cups vegetable broth 
1 cup live plain yogurt 
juice of 1 lemon

Put the beets, turnip, celery, garlic and carrots into a food processor and whiz them finely.

Put the oil into a large pot and gently sauté the vegetables, stirring continuously, for 5 minutes.

Pour in the broth and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain into a clean pot and return to a simmer.

Mix the yogurt and lemon juice well. Serve the soup in individual bowls with a swirl of yogurt sauce on top.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Braised Carrots
Carrots are widely used in all Jewish communities, from the coldest parts of Eastern Europe to the kitchens of the Mediterranean and the hot spots of the Middle East, Asia and India. Adding mint and raisins is typical of Middle Eastern and North African Jewish and Muslim cooking.

3 Tbsps. olive oil 
8 young carrots with the bottom 1/2-inch of their leaves 
1 cup vegetable broth 
1 Tbsp. finely chopped mint 
1/4 cup raisins 
2 Tbsps. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté the carrots gently until golden all over - about 6 minutes.

Add enough broth (or water) just to cover. Add the mint and raisins. Cover and simmer until the carrots are almost tender - about 15 minutes.

Uncover and bring to a brisk boil until most of the liquid has evaporated. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutty Spinach With Raisins
The combination of spinach, nuts and dried fruits is a common favorite with Jews and Muslim in the Middle East and North Africa. This recipe is delicious served cold as a salad. If you're having a non-meat meal, you could crumble feta cheese in addition to the lemon juice on top and still keep it kosher.

2 oz. seedless raisins (about 1/3 cup) 
1/4 cup pine nuts 
2 Tbsps. olive oil 
1 garlic clove, very finely sliced 
21/4 lbs. baby spinach 
juice of 1/2 a lemon

Soak the raisins in freshly boiled water for 10 minutes, and dry-roast the pine nuts.

Put the olive oil into a large pot and sauté the garlic very gently for 2 minutes.

Wash the spinach, even if the packaging says that it's already washed, and add to the garlic pot with only the water clinging to the leaves. Cook, covered, over gentle heat until the spinach is wilted - not more than 5 minutes.

Drain the raisins, and add to the spinach along with the toasted pine nuts, stirring them in gently.

Serve with the lemon juice squeezed on top.

Makes 4 servings.

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