Please note: Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer. The Orthodox Union makes no endorsements or representations regarding kashrut certification of various products/vendors referred to in her articles, blog or web site.
One of the phrases you hear most often during the week of Pesach is, “I’m stuffed.” Whether it’s from the Seder, the box of matzo and stick of butter you just need to have for breakfast every day, the six cans of macaroons or the sheer volume of food you THINK you have to eat because, Heaven forbid, we have any leftover Pesach food – it’s always an uncomfortable feeling. Stuffing yourself and then dealing with the guilt caused by said stuffing is what we Jews do; it’s tradition (cue Tevye and the rest of the Fiddler cast as they let out the seams on their waist bands).
While not rabbinic in origin, the advice I’m about to give you will hold you in good stead if you’re tempted to stuff yourself. I say: stuff a vegetable instead. Yes, you heard me, stuff a vegetable and then eat the stuffed vegetable. I promise it will be a whole lot healthier and better for you than bypassing the vegetable step and introducing the food directly to your lips, hips and waistline.
You can stuff most any vegetable and I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest you stuff your vegetables with other vegetables. Use fresh if possible and keep the cheese and meats to a minimum. Too often we think of Pesach as time when we have to do without, but if you think of it as a time to be creative, embrace the challenge and figure out a way to keep your meals light, filling and actually good for you (and as matzo-free and fat-free as possible).
6 medium baking potatoes (6 ounces each)
2 tablespoons olive oil, butter or margarine, melted
1 tablespoon ground white horseradish (fresh or sauce) divided
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 large sweet red pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh broccoli florets, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped black olives
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
Parmesan cheese to taste
1. Scrub and pierce potatoes. Bake at 400° for 40-50 minutes or until tender. Cool slightly; cut each potato in half lengthwise. Scoop out the pulp, leaving a thin shell (save pulp for another use). Place potato shells on an ungreased baking sheet.
2. Combine butter and 1/2 teaspoon horseradish; brush over shells. Broil a few inches from the heating element for 5 to 7 minutes or until edges are crispy and butter is bubbly. Remove from the heat immediately. Don’t let them burn!
3. In a bowl combine the onions, olives, red pepper, broccoli, 3/4 cup cheese and remaining horseradish. Mix to combine then spoon the mixture into the cooked potato skins. Sprinkle the tops of the stuffed potatoes with the remaining cheddar cheese and a little parmesan cheese. Broil 2 to 3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.
Submitted by Russ Kaplan of West Pico, CA.
CHEESEY STUFFED MUSHROOMS
12 whole portabella mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 chopped red pepper
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Carefully break off stems. Chop stems extremely fine.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, red pepper and chopped mushroom stems to the skillet. Fry until any moisture has disappeared; don’t let it burn. Set aside to cool slightly and then stir in the parsley.
3. When garlic and mushroom mixture is cool, mix in the cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, black pepper and onion powder. Mixture should be very thick. Using a spoon, fill each mushroom cap with a generous amount of stuffing. Arrange the mushroom caps on prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the mushrooms are piping hot and liquid starts to form under caps. Serve immediately.
My files, source unknown.
STUFFED ROASTED ONIONS
10 medium red onions
1 lb sliced pastrami or turkey pastrami cut into bite sized pieces
3 stalks of celery cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 lb baby spinach, trimmed and coarsely chopped (4 cups)
1 1/2 cup matzo farfel
2 cups salted cashews, coarsely chopped
1 stick margarine, melted
1 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1. Onion shells: Cut a 1/2-inch-thick slice from tops of onions, discarding tops, and trim just enough from bottoms for onions to stand upright. Scoop out all but outer 2 or 3 layers from each using a small ice cream scoop or spoon (don’t worry if you make a hole in the bottom), reserving scooped-out onion and onion shells separately.
2. Stuffing: Coarsely chop enough scooped-out onion to measure 3 cups. Cook pastrami in 2 batches in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, reserving about 1/3 cup fat in skillet. Add chopped onion, celery, salt, and pepper to skillet and sauté over moderately high heat, stirring, until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté, stirring, 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and stir in spinach, cashews, farfel, 1 cup broth, and pastrami, then cool completely.
3. Roast onions: Preheat oven to 425. Arrange onion shells, open sides up, in a 13X9 baking pan, then add 1/2 cup water and cover pan tightly with foil. Roast onions in middle of oven until tender but not falling apart, 25 to 30 minutes.
4. Reduce oven temperature to 350. Transfer shells to a work surface and pour off water in pan. Fill shells with stuffing, mounding it, and return to pan. Reserve 5 to 7 cups stuffing for turkey cavity, then put remaining stuffing in a greased shallow 3 1/2-quart baking dish and drizzle with remaining 1/4 cup stock. Bake stuffed onions and stuffing in dish in middle of oven, uncovered, until heated through, about 25 minutes.
Tip: Stuffing can be prepared and onions can be stuffed 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring stuffed onions to room temperature before baking.
Modified from Gourmet, November 2002.
FRESH HERBED AND MUSHROOM STUFFED TOMATOES SALAD
1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms (a mix of kinds is nice)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced green onions
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
4 large tomatoes
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
spring salad greens
1/4 cup vinegar
3/4 cup oil
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
3 tablespoons honey
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a jar with a tight lid, combine all the vinaigrette ingredients and shake to combine. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the mushrooms with the olive oil, minced onions, rosemary, and thyme. Mix well and let rest for 15 minutes. Saute the mushrooms for 2 or 3 minutes, then let cool.
3. Preheat the oven to 325. Using a sharp knife, slice the tops off the tomatoes. Using a melon baller or spoon, scoop out the insides and then set the shells aside. Place the tomatoes into a 9X13 baking pan. Bake until the skins start to wrinkle, about 15 minutes.
4. When the tomatoes are finished, stuff with alternate layers of the mushroom mixture and the cheese. Place the tomatoes back into the oven just until the cheese starts to melt, about 5 minutes.
5. Place salad greens on a salad plate and the place a tomato on top. Top each tomato with a little bit more of the salad greens and then a drizzle the vinaigrette over the top and serve.
Modified from epicurious.com.
Having trouble adapting your regular recipes to Pesach standards? Take a look at the Best Chometz-Substitue List for tried-and-true suggestions.
Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer who was born and raised in the Chicago area. She graduated from Indiana University and the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris. She lectures on various food-related topics across the U.S. and Canada and writes weekly columns for the Chicago Jewish News, kosher.com and the OU Shabbat Shalom Website. She is the author of the Perfectly Pareve Cookbook (Feldheim) and is a contributing writer for the Chicken Soup for the Soul Book Group, Chicago Sun Times, Detroit Free Press and Woman’s World Magazine. You can visit Eileen’s blog by clicking: Cuisine by Eileen.