“The New Mediterranean Jewish Table”

Recipes by Joyce Goldstein

Joyce at stove.jpg

For thousands of years, the people of the Jewish Diaspora have carried their culinary traditions and kosher laws throughout the world. In the United States, this has resulted primarily in an Ashkenazi table of matzo ball soup and knishes, brisket and gefilte fish. But Joyce Goldstein is now expanding that menu with this comprehensive collection of over four hundred recipes from the kitchens of three Mediterranean Jewish cultures: the Sephardic, the Maghrebi, and the Mizrahi.

book cover

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, Joyce Goldstein promises to inspire new generations of Jewish and non-Jewish home cooks alike with dishes for everyday meals and holiday celebrations.

            (A few highlights from a recent talk. The complete video is at the bottom of this article)

When EatDrinkFilms asked Joyce to select some favorites from the book it was difficult her to limit the choices. She kept thinking of more she wanted our readers to enjoy. Ultimately we selected four offerings that make a meal starting with Syrian Bulgur and Nut Salad, followed by a main course of Fish with Golden Sauce and a side dish of Braised Artichokes, Favas, and Lettuce. To end the meal with sweetness we offer Joyce’s version of a classic Sephardic Orange and Almond Cake.

P.S. Check out the bonus videos at the end of this article.

Bazargan salad.jpg

Photo by Leigh Beisch

Syrian Bulgur and Nut Salad    (Bazergan)

Bazergan—literally “of the bazaar”—is a Syrian Jewish version of tabbouleh. Some recipes add chopped hazelnuts or pine nuts to the mix, but walnuts are typical. Grated onion is an occasional addition. The dressing is enhanced with tamarind paste or pomegranate molasses; I have used the latter here, as it is easier to find at the market. Both ingredients have a tart-sweet quality that, along with the lemon juice, accents the spices. Let the completed salad marinate for a few hours or as long as overnight for the flavors to develop. At serving time, adjust the seasoning with salt and the tartness with lemon juice if needed.

Although adding fruit other than pomegranate seeds is not traditional, I think the sweetness helps balance the salad. In winter I use diced apples. When cherries are in season, pit and halve them and use them in place of the pomegranate seeds. They pair well with the walnuts and the pomegranate dressing. I served the cherry version at a Zinfandel festival and it was a perfect match for the wine.

Serves 6 to 8

2 cups fine-grind bulgur

1 tablespoon ground toasted cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons tomato paste

5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more if needed

6 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

1/2 cup mild, fruity extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed


2 cups pitted cherries, halved, in spring, or 2 cups diced apple in winter (optional)

1 cup diced fennel (optional)

1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

1/4  cup pine nuts, toasted (optional)

1/4  cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/4  cup fresh mint leaves, cut into very narrow strips (chiffonade)

Seeds of 1 pomegranate (optional)

Romaine lettuce leaves for serving (optional)

In a bowl, soak the bulgur in warm salted water to cover (use about twice as much water as bulgur) until tender yet still slightly crunchy, 20 to 30 minutes. Pour into a sieve to drain off any excess water, then transfer to a large bowl.


JoyceGoldstein mixing.jpgIn a small bowl, whisk together the cumin, coriander, allspice, cayenne, tomato paste, and lemon juice, then whisk in the pomegranate molasses and oil. Season with salt, taste, and adjust with more lemon juice or oil, if needed. Drizzle the dressing over the bulgur and toss to coat evenly. Fold in the cherries, fennel, walnuts, pine nuts, parsley, and mint, mixing well. Top with the pomegranate seeds and serve at room temperature with the romaine leaves for scooping.


Photo by Leigh Beisch

Fish with Golden Sauce    (Poisson sauce soleil)

In Morocco, this dish is served during the Rosh Hashanah holiday. But it looks so gorgeous and is so delicious and easy to prepare that I cook it all year long. The turmeric and saffron in the sauce create the illusion of fish bathed in golden sunlight. Some cooks add a generous handful of green olives at the end of cooking. Although this fish is usually paired with little new potatoes, I often serve it with spinach or with spinach and chickpeas. Swiss chard and chickpeas (page 207) would be good, as well. And here we offer another side below)

Serves 4

2 large or 3 medium juicy lemons, all peel and pith removed, then sliced paper-thin

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil for drizzling and frying

4 cloves garlic, any green sprouts removed, chopped

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads steeped in ⅓ cup hot water

1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

4 fish steaks or fillets, such as halibut, sea bass, or cod, each about 6 ounces

1 cup pitted green olives (optional)

Peel of 1 preserved lemon, homemade, or store-bought, rinsed and cut into thin strips (optional)

Lemon wedges for serving

About 1 hour before cooking, place the lemon slices in a shallow bowl or platter and sprinkle with the turmeric and some salt. Press down on the slices with a fork to extract some juice, then drizzle with a bit of oil. Set aside at room temperature.

Select a sauté pan large enough to hold the fish in a single layer. Warm 1 tablespoon oil in the pan over low heat, add the garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes. Do not allow to color. Add 3 tablespoons of the saffron infusion and let it bubble up for 1 minute. Arrange the lemon slices on the bottom of the pan, reserving all of the accumulated juices in a bowl. Sprinkle with half of the cilantro, then arrange the fish fillets on the lemon slices. Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper and top with the remaining saffron infusion, the reserved juices from the lemons, the remaining cilantro, and the olives. Finish with the preserved lemon.

Raise the heat to medium-high, bring the pan juices to a boil, turn down the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the fish flakes when tested with a fork, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve hot or warm.


artichokes with favas and lerttuce.jpg

Photo by Liz Halafia

Braised Artichokes, Favas, and Lettuce    (Stufato di carciofi, fave e lattuga romana)

 Here, the classic Italian Jewish method of cooking vegetables known as sofegae, or “suffocated,” is used. The vegetables are slowly cooked over very low heat in olive oil or goose or chicken fat and a small amount of water. The recipe, which is often served at Passover, comes from La cucina livornese by Emma Belforte, whose flavor palate I share, although she cooks her vegetables much longer than I do. I’ve suggested the contemporary garnish of gremolata, a mixture of lemon zest, garlic, and parsley, to bring lightness and sparkle.

Serves 6

Juice of 1 lemon

6 large artichokes

2 small heads romaine or butter lettuce, or 4 heads Little Gem lettuce

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, or as needed

2 pounds fresh fava beans, shelled, blanched, and peeled (1. to 2 cups)

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 ounces asparagus, tough stems removed and cut into 2-inch lengths (optional)

1 cup shelled English peas (optional)

1/2 cup water or vegetable broth, or as needed



Grated zest of 2 lemons

6 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or basil

1 tablespoon finely minced garlic

Have ready a bowl of water to which you have added the lemon juice. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, trim off the stem flush with the bottom, then remove all of the leaves until you reach the heart. Pare away the dark green areas from the base and then cut the artichoke in half. Scoop out the choke from each half with a small pointed spoon or a paring knife and drop the halves into the lemon water.

Core the lettuces and slice the leaves crosswise into ½-inch-wide strips. Drain the artichoke hearts and cut into small pieces or thin slices.

Warm the oil in a large, deep sauté pan over low heat. Add the artichokes and sauté, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Add the favas, lettuces, parsley, basil and water to barely cover and season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the artichokes are tender and most of the water has evaporated, 10 to 15 minutes. If using the asparagus or peas, add them during the last 5 minutes. Meanwhile, make the gremolata: in a small bowl, stir together the lemon zest, parsley, and garlic, mixing well.

Remove the vegetables from the heat, sprinkle with the gremolata, and stir well. Let rest for 5 minutes—allowing the garlic in the gremolata to soften—then serve.


orange and almond cake.jpg

Photo by Liz Halafia

Sephardic Orange and Almond Cake for Passover   (Gâteau d’orange)

(Note: It is wonderful any day of the year, not just Passover)

The theme of orange and almonds is pervasive in Sephardic desserts. This recipe is a variation on a classic Judeo-Spanish cake that Claudia Roden recorded in her Book of Jewish Food. Because of the ground cooked fruit, the cake is very moist and dense. The good news is that the cake keeps well at room temperature for a few days and tastes best on the second and third days, which makes it ideal for entertaining, as you can make it in advance.

I tried making this recipe with many different citrus fruits and have discovered that it can also be made with 5 Meyer lemons or with 5 or 6 mandarin oranges. Meyer lemons will become completely soft in about 30 minutes. If you want to use a different citrus fruit, make sure you do not exceed 2. cups citrus purée or the cake will be soggy. If you cannot find almond flour, substitute 2 cups blanched almonds ground in a food processor with 1/4 cup of the sugar. You can also make this cake with ground pistachio nuts in place of the almonds.

Serves 12

3 Valencia oranges

9 eggs, separated

1½ cups granulated sugar

2 cups almond flour

2 teaspoons baking powder (optional)

½ teaspoon almond extract, if needed

½ to 1 cup Passover cake meal

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Scrub the oranges, then place in a saucepan, add water to cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn down the heat to medium and simmer, adding more water as needed to keep the fruits submerged, until soft, 1 to 1½ hours. You may have to weight the oranges down with a heatproof plate or pan, as they have a tendency to float.

Drain the oranges and transfer to a bowl. When they are cool enough to handle, cut them open and pick out and discard any seeds. Transfer the oranges to a food processor and pulse until puréed. You should have 2 to 2¼ cups purée. (This step can be done a day or two in advance. Cover and refrigerate until needed.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter or oil a 10-inch springform pan, then coat with Passover cake meal and tap out the excess.

In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and 1 cup of the granulated sugar on medium-high speed until thick and pale. Stir in the orange purée, almond flour, and baking powder. If the almond flour is not very fragrant, stir in the almond extract. Fold in ½ cup of the Passover cake meal. If the mixture still seems very wet, fold in up to ½ cup more cake meal.

In a second bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. On medium-high speed, gradually add the remaining ½ cup granulated sugar andbeat until stiff peaks form. Stir one-third of the whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whites just until no white streaks remain.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown and springy and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Remove the pan sides and slide the cake onto a serving plate. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve. You may garnish with fresh strawberries and citrus.

All Recipes copyright 2016 The Regents of the University of California

The New Mediterranean Jewish Table: Old World Recipes for the Modern Home is published by the University of California Press as a hardbound book and is available at your local bookstore or online from Indiebound and Amazon. An E-Book version is also available at UC Press.

potluck.jpegThe UC Press staff gathered for a potluck of foods from the book.

Joyce discusses the The New Mediterranean Jewish Table at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco in March, 2016.

Joyce Goldstein in conversation at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, March 31, 2016

Joyce Goldstein is a prolific cookbook author, cooking teacher and lecturer. As a consultant to the restaurant she improves existing recipes, adds new ones to complement the menu and works with culinary staff to refine flavors and execution.


Photo by Brie Mazurek/CUESA

For twelve years she was Chef/Owner of the ground-breaking Mediterranean restaurant, SQUARE ONE. Her menu presented the foods of Italy, Spain, France, Greece, Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa. SQUARE ONE won numerous prestigious industry awards for food, wine and service. Prior to SQUARE ONE, Joyce was chef of the Cafe at Chez Panisse for 3 years. She also served as Visiting Executive Chef of the Wine Spectator Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in the Napa Valley.

Joyce was voted San Francisco Magazine‘s Chef of the Year in 1992 and received the James Beard Award for Best Chef in California for 1993, and the lifetime achievement award from Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, of which she is a Founding Board Member. 

 She is a prolific cookbook author. Many of her books have won industry awards. She also writes for many magazines such as Fine Cooking, Cooking Light, Wine & Spirits, Food & Wine, Vegetarian Times, the Sommelier Journal and the San Francisco Chronicle.

 She reviewed the movie THE STURGEON QUEENS for EDF.

 Visit Joyce’s website.

Joyce teaches how to make Matzo Balls.


Learn how to make a Potato and Green Olive Stew from Joyce Goldstein.



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