Joyce Goldstein’s New Mediterranean Jewish Table

I can’t remember the last time I picked up a cookbook with more than 400 recipes and wanted to make every single one of them. The New Mediterranean Jewish Table: Old World Recipes for the Modern Home by Joyce Goldstein is that kind of cookbook.

Goldstein_Joyce_Filo1[1]Last week, I stayed up late reading it in bed while everyone else was sleeping. Yes, I read it like a juicy novel. I was fascinated by the origins of the recipes, the combinations of flavors, and the excitement of which recipe to start cooking first…Moroccan Inspired Lentil Salad with Carrots, Dates and Mint? Lebanese Cauliflower Fritters with Yogurt Dipping Sauce? Chicken and Rice Wrapped in Filo? Persian Eggplant and Tomatoes with Pomegranates? Sephardic Fish and Vegetable Stew? Clearly, this was a good problem but a problem nonetheless.

In the United States, when we think of Jewish food, we think of primarily an Ashkenazi table of matzo ball soup and knishes, brisket, and gefilte fish. But Joyce expands this menu with recipes from the three Mediterranean Jewish cultures: the Sephardic, the Maghrebi, and the Mizrahi. Joyce says that this “doesn’t mean we are never to cook brisket and latkes again. But it does mean that we need to expand our concept of Jewish cooking to reflect today’s greater cultural diversity and broader palate.” I couldn’t agree more.

Joyce Goldstein was chef and owner of the groundbreaking Mediterranean restaurant Square One in San Francisco. Prior to opening Square One, she was chef at Chez Panisse Café and visiting executive chef at Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa. Today she is a cooking teacher, consultant to the restaurant and food industries, and prolific cookbook author. Her most recent book is Inside the California Food Revolution: Thirty Years That Changed Our Culinary Consciousness (UC Press, 2013). Joyce’s Cucina Ebraica: Flavors of the Italian Jewish Kitchen is still one of my favorite cookbooks.

Joyce Goldstein's New Med. Jewish Table-13

The New Mediterranean Jewish Table is an authoritative guide to Jewish home cooking from North Africa, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, and the Middle East. It is a treasury filled with vibrant, seasonal recipes—both classic and updated—that embrace fresh fruits and vegetables; grains and legumes; small portions of meat, poultry, and fish; and a healthy mix of herbs and spices. It is also the story of how Jewish cooks successfully brought the local ingredients, techniques, and traditions of their new homelands into their kitchens. With this varied and appealing selection of Mediterranean Jewish recipes, Goldstein promises to inspire new generations of Jewish and non-Jewish home cooks alike with dishes for everyday meals and holiday celebrations. She has certainly inspired me.

Joyce Goldstein's New Med. Jewish Table-11

Moroccan-Inspired Lentil Salad with Carrots, Dates, and Mint
by Joyce Goldstein from The New Mediterranean Jewish Table: Old World Recipes for the Modern Home

From Joyce: “Sometimes an unusual combination of tastes catches my attention. At his San Francisco restaurant, Aziza, chef Mourad Lahlou served a wonderful lentil soup garnished with dates and a celery salad. When I asked about this surprising pairing, he explained that after breaking the Ramadan fast, Moroccans start their evening meal with a bite of a sweet date and then eat a bowl of the hearty lentil soup called harira. This striking mix of sweet and earthy flavors was on my mind when I decided to make a new lentil salad for my family.”

The carrots can be prepared two different ways. If the carrots at your market are just average in flavor and appearance, dice them and cook them along with the onions, as instructed in the recipe. They will provide texture and some mild sweetness. If the car- rots are small, young, and delicate, roast them separately. (Stay away from bagged “baby carrots,” which are actually large, starchy carrots cut by machine to look adorable.) Buy about 8 ounces (2 small bunches), peel them, and toss them with a little olive oil to coat evenly. Spread them on a sheet pan, sprinkle lightly with kosher salt, and roast in a pre- heated 450°F oven until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Their sweetness will intensify during roasting. Let cool, then slice on the diagonal into 1- to 1 1⁄2-inch pieces and toss with the lentils along with the dates and mint.

You can make this salad many hours or even a day ahead of serving and the flavors will improve. If it has been refrigerated, bring it to room temperature and adjust the salt if needed before serving.

serves 4 to 6

2 cups green lentils, picked over and rinsed
1⁄4 cup mild, fruity extra virgin olive oil, plus more for tossing with lentils
1 1⁄2 cups diced yellow onion
2 1⁄2 cups peeled and diced carrots
3⁄4 to 1 cup Preserved Lemon Citrus Dressing (recipe follows)
20 dates, pitted and sliced crosswise
1⁄2 cup fresh mint or anise hyssop leaves, cut into very narrow strips (chiffonade)


In a saucepan, combine the lentils with water to cover by 2 inches and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn down the heat to low and simmer gently until tender but not soft, 20 to 35 minutes. The timing will vary depending on the age of the lentils. After the lentils have simmered for about 15 minutes, add 2 teaspoons salt.

While the lentils are cooking, warm the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Drain the lentils, transfer to a bowl, toss with a little oil, and let cool until warm. Add the onion mixture and toss to combine. Drizzle with the dressing and toss well. Let cool completely, then fold in the dates and mint and toss again. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. Serve at room temperature.

Preserved Lemon Citrus Dressing

makes about 1 3⁄4 cups

1⁄2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground toasted cumin
1 1⁄4 cups extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed

Peel of 1 preserved lemon, homemade or store-bought, rinsed and finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, paprika, and cumin. Whisk in the oil, stir in the preserved lemon, and then whisk in more oil if needed for good balance. Sea-son with salt and pepper. Leftover dressing can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days. Bring to room temperature, then taste for salt and acidity and adjust if needed.

Joyce Goldstein's New Med. Jewish Table-9

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

4 Comments on Joyce Goldstein’s New Mediterranean Jewish Table

  1. Liz Rueven
    May 1, 2016 at 10:18 pm (6 years ago)

    I was so excited when a special friend sent me this fascinating volume. I’m reading it in bed, also! Goldstein does a super job of updating and illuminating a whole world of flavors for the reader. The recipes are approachable and clear, too. This is a real treasure.

  2. Tammy
    May 1, 2016 at 10:33 pm (6 years ago)

    Looks absolutely delicious Could have made this for Passover? Where is the recipe for the delicious soup you put on Instagram…???

    • Julie Levine
      May 2, 2016 at 3:15 am (6 years ago)

      Oops! Here it is…
      Moroccan Vegetable Tagine
      From Joyce: “This recipe, which is sometimes called tajine del sabana, is a cross between two tagine recipes in La cuisine juive du Maroc de mère en fille by Maguy Kakon. Similar dishes are found on the Rosh Hashanah table in Fez, Meknes, and Tangier. Almost any combination of vegetables will work for this fragrant stew, which is typically served with couscous. It includes both potatoes and sweet potatoes and the classic addition of preserved lemon and olives, which add salt and tang. If you like, 1 to 1 1⁄2 pounds butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled and cut into 3-inch chunks, can be used in place of the sweet pota- toes. Although not authentic, I sometimes add 1⁄2 cup plumped raisins for a note of sweetness. serves 8
      1⁄4 cup olive oil
      2 large yellow onions, chopped
      Salt and freshly ground black pepper
      2 cloves garlic, minced
      1 tablespoon sweet paprika
      1 teaspoon ground turmeric
      1 teaspoon ground ginger
      1 teaspoon Maras pepper flakes
      4 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
      1⁄2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
      4 cups vegetable broth or water
      4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch lengths
      2 turnips or rutabagas, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
      6 small YukonGold or new potatoes, cut into 2-inch pieces
      3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3-inch chunks
      4 small zucchini, cut into 2-inch lengths
      1 cup drained canned chickpeas, rinsed (optional)
      Peel of 2 preserved lemons, homemadE or store-bought, rinsed and cut into fine slivers
      1 cup green or violet olives
      2 fresh chiles, thinly sliced (optional)

      Warm the oil in a large stew pot over medium heat. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, turmeric, ginger, pepper flakes, tomatoes, and half of the cilantro and cook, stirring, for a few minutes to bloom the spices. Pour in the broth, stir well, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
      Add the carrots, re-cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Add the turnips, potatoes, and sweet potatoes and simmer for 10 minutes longer. Add the zucchini, chickpeas, pre- served lemon, olives, and chiles and simmer until all of the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes longer. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and add the remaining cilantro. Serve hot.

  3. helene
    May 2, 2016 at 6:27 am (6 years ago)

    Yes. I agree with your comments. Larry got me a copy of her book and I am enjoying reading about all the great spices and flavors we can add to our foods. I am so into it. Wish it had more photos……..but that’s just me. The recipes are good.
    Thanks as always.


Leave a Reply