A Jewish State of Culinary Inspiration

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Our recent trip to Israel proved to be an inspiring source for new recipes. I took pictures of our food at every restaurant, determined to try to reproduce our favorites at home.

Our recent trip to Israel proved to be an inspiring source for new recipes. There are so many fabulous kosher restaurants of every different variety that as a foodie, I had a lot of difficulty deciding which ones to visit! Our personal favorites were the restaurant at the Gush Etzion Winery, Shayan in Rechovot (delicious Chinese), and Moshiko on Ben Yehuda (where we must have shwarma on our first night in Jerusalem every trip). Of course we ate tons of awesome pizza, too!

I took pictures of our food at every restaurant (as inconspicuously as possible, of course) determined to try to reproduce our favorites at home.

Gush Etzion Winery’s

Health Pizza

(Dairy)

This is my version of what Dear Husband ordered when we ate at the Gush Etzion Winery Restaurant. He loved it — so I had to make it when we got home! It has a lot of ingredients, but I make a lot of the components for this recipe in advance. I also generally make double or triple batches to use for other recipes. I especially love this pizza crust — it’s healthy, super versatile and can be used with your favorite toppings. You can use store-bought sauce, pesto and crust for this recipe, but homemade is always best!

Makes 2 12-inch pizzas.

 

For the Whole Wheat Pizza Crust:

1          cup warm apple juice (around 110˚)

2½       teaspoons dry yeast

2          cups whole wheat flour

(I like King Arthur)

1          tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

¼         teaspoon kosher salt

Non-stick vegetable spray

Preheat oven to 400˚.

In a small bowl, combine the apple juice and yeast. Whisk until yeast is completely dissolved. Set aside for around 5 minutes, until yeast is bubbling.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the whole wheat flour, olive oil, kosher salt and apple juice/yeast mixture. Knead until smooth and elastic. Remove the dough and spray the bowl lightly with nonstick vegetable spray. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap (I use a plastic shower cap!), and allow to rise for 20 minutes.

 

For the Pizza Sauce

1          6-ounce can tomato paste

2          tablespoons water

¼         teaspoon dried basil

¼         teaspoon dried oregano

½         teaspoon olive oil

In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, whisk all the ingredients together until smooth.

 

For the Garden Fresh Pesto: (makes around 1 cup)

1          cup fresh curly parsley

½         cup fresh mint leaves

½         cup fresh basil leaves

2          cloves fresh garlic

½         teaspoon black pepper

½         teaspoon crushed red pepper

¼-½     cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine all the ingredients except the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Process until coarsely ground. With the processor running, slowly add the olive oil until the pesto reaches a smooth consistency. Transfer to a plastic or glass container and refrigerate.

 

For the roasted eggplant:

2          large eggplant, unpeeled, diced into

½-inch cubes

1-2       tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

nonstick vegetable spray

Preheat oven to 375˚.

Line a large baking sheet with foil, then spray with nonstick vegetable spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with the olive oil. Spread onto the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes until the eggplant is soft and slightly browned.

 

For the roasted sweet potatoes:

3          large sweet potatoes, peeled, diced

into ½-inch cubes

1-2       tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

nonstick vegetable spray

Preheat oven to 375˚.

Line a large baking sheet with foil, then spray with nonstick vegetable spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with the olive oil. Spread onto the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes until the sweet potatoes are soft and slightly browned.

 

For the Pizzas:

1          recipe Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

1          recipe Pizza Sauce, divided

2          tablespoons Garden Fresh Pesto,

divided

2          cups Roasted Eggplant, divided

2          cups Roasted Sweet Potato, divided

½         cup sun-dried tomatoes, divided

(optional)

4          ounces feta cheese, divided

2          ounces shredded part-skim

mozzarella cheese, divided

additional whole wheat flour

or non-stick vegetable spray

Preheat oven to 400˚. If using pizza stones, sprinkle the stone with whole wheat flour. If using pizza pans, spray with nonstick vegetable spray. Set aside.

Divide the crust in half. On a floured surface, roll out half the dough into a 12-inch disk. Place on a pizza stone or a greased pizza pan. Spread half the pizza sauce on the dough. Spread 1 tablespoon pesto on the sauce. Sprinkle 1 cup of the eggplant, 1 cup of the sweet potatoes and ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes over the crust. Top with 2 ounces of feta and 1 ounce part-skim mozzarella. Repeat with the remaining pizza dough.

Bake both pizzas for 15-20 minutes until crust is slightly crisped on the bottom and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 3-5 minutes. Slice and serve hot.

Gush Etzion Winery

Eggplant and Potatoes

(Dairy)

I tried to pick healthier choices for lunch on our trip (there is only so much a person can eat!), and this dish fit perfectly with my plan. The eggplant at the winery was a little more “vinegary” than I preferred, so feel free to increase the balsamic vinegar in the recipe if you prefer it closer to the original recipe.

 

nonstick vegetable spray

4          baby eggplant, sliced in half

lengthwise — leave on the stem

4          large russet or Idaho potatoes

3          tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1          large onion, finely diced

2          cloves crushed garlic

1          teaspoon kosher salt

¼         teaspoon black pepper

2          tablespoon balsamic vinegar

6          tablespoons honey

2          tablespoon olive oil

4          tablespoons fresh basil,           chopped

2          pounds white mushrooms, quartered

2          pints cherry tomatoes, halved

additional oil for brushing on eggplant

sliced green onions, feta, or

shredded part-skim mozzarella

cheese for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 375˚. Cover a large baking sheet with foil, then spray with nonstick vegetable spray. Place the eggplant on the baking sheet and make several diagonal slits on each half. Roast for 30 minutes until the eggplant is soft. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, then simmer for 25 minutes until you can cut easily through the center with a knife. Place in the sink and run cold water over the potatoes until they are cooled.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and sauté over medium heat until the onions are slightly caramelized. Set aside.

Peel the potatoes, then place in a large bowl. Mash until smooth. Add the caramelized onions, salt and black pepper to the potatoes and mash until completely blended. Place a scoop of the potato mixture into each of the eggplant halves.

In a large skillet or wok (you can use the one from the onions), heat the balsamic vinegar, honey and olive oil. Add the basil, mushrooms and tomatoes and sauté until the tomatoes are soft and mushrooms are cooked through. The rendered liquid becomes the sauce for the eggplant.

Evenly top the potato-stuffed eggplant halves with the tomato and mushroom mixture. Spoon the remaining sauce over the top. Serve warm with green onions and/or cheese as a garnish.

Serves 4 to 8 people.

Chicagoan Sharon Matten is a freelance pastry chef, kosher food writer, electrical engineer, wife and mom (not in order of importance!). Find Sharon at: www.koshereveryday.com.

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