Kenden Alfond’s The Jewish Food Hero Cookbook is a beautiful tribute to the ways in which a plant-based diet both celebrates and elevates traditional Jewish cooking. Starting with Rosh Hashanah and continuing all the way through Shavuot, the book lays out complete menus for full and deliciously healthful holiday meals throughout the entire Jewish calendar.
The recipes in this gorgeously designed book are simple but elegant. Generally using fewer than ten ingredients, they’re easy to make even for inexperienced cooks (though you wouldn’t know it by the end result). Alfond lets the ingredients speak for themselves, working to bring out and complement their natural flavors. Recipes such as the Mint Citrus Plate (Tu B’Shevat) and Spiced Acorn Squash (Chanukah) exemplify the ways in which a plant-based plate can augment the holiday experience.
Beyond the recipes themselves, one of the many beautiful elements of this cookbook is the way that Alfond ties in a short but thought-provoking “inspiration behind the menu” to guide you through the preparation and enjoyment of the meal. For Rosh Hashanah, she discusses the joys of celebrating with children; for Pesach, how simplicity allows a deeper focus on “the experiences you’re creating”; for Purim, the courage of Queen Esther in living out her values via a plant-based diet. These gentle introductions are accompanied by a menu “theme,” such as Simchat Torah’s “joy” or Tu B’Shevat’s “grow,” that show how food can enhance the relationship to the story.
Alfond also takes the time to explore the ways in which so many cultures have had their influence on Jewish cooking. Her Rosh Hashanah menu has Moroccan elements, thanks to a friend who celebrated with her one year; Purim, of course, is Persian-inspired; Simchat Torah features a Creamy Lentil Dahl that takes its inspiration from her time spent living in a vegetarian ashram in India. This is Jewish food at its diverse best, incorporating a diasporic history into a central and simple commitment to healthy and compassionate plant-based eating.
The Jewish Food Hero Cookbook is a perfect guide to celebrating the holidays in a way that promotes good health, good food, and living in accordance with the essential Jewish values of care and compassion for all. Far more than just a collection of recipes, it provides a delicious map for a truly joyful and intentional holiday experience.