Please note: Shira Galston 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.
Kosher for Passover food has come a long way since my bubbe’s matzoh brie – though that was quite yummy! These days, you can barely even tell it’s Passover anymore, what with all the substitutes and ready-made Passover meal items available in Kosher supermarkets. Kosher restaurants are also increasingly keeping their doors open over chol hamoed, so you can enjoy a complete Passover meal in your favorite eatery, with barely a hint that the flour is missing.
People have mixed opinions on this issue – after all, isn’t it part of the point of Passover that we should actually notice the difference between chametzdik food and chametz-free? Isn’t there something philosophically awry when we can eat a Passover dessert that tastes just like the cake we had the week before? Others will tell you that that is far from the point. Yes, we must be chametz-free, but the fact that we have the ability in modern times to further enhance the taste and texture of our foods in no way diminishes from the performance of the mitzvot of Passover. To the contrary, it allows us to enjoy the holiday that much more, and be b’simcha as we enjoy our delicious Passover recipes.
As with most Jewish disputes, I think the answer probably lies somewhere in the balance of the two. There is nothing technically wrong with preparing Passover dishes that taste much like year-round foods, but if this makes you completely forget that it is Passover, then you might have some more work to do on refocusing your intentions. Most people, however, do not have this problem. The weeks of preparation and excitement make Passover the most stand-out holiday of the year, and no amount of flour substitutes can erase that involvement and intensity. So as you eat your delicious Passover dish that tastes like something out of a gourmet restaurant’s kitchen, consider it your own personal “bread” of freedom.
In the spirit of cooking the most delicious and enjoyable Passover meals possible, here are a few Passover recipes that taste so good they can be used year-round!
Caramelized Vegetable and Meatball Soup
- 1 small peeled, seeded butternut squash
- 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
- 2 each large carrots and parsnips, peeled
- 15 to 20 garlic cloves, peeled
- ¼ cup olive oil, divided
- 2½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1 lb. ground turkey (not breast only)
- 1 Tablespoon fennel seeds
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 large leeks, cut into ¾-inch slices and rinsed
- 1 large heat fennel, cut into ¼-inch slices (reserve feathery fronds for garnish)
- 8 cups reduced-sodium or homemade chicken broth
- Preheat oven to 425°F and arrange in upper and lower thirds of oven.
- Cut squash, potatoes, carrots, and parsnips into 1-inch pieces and put in a large oiled roasting pan, add garlic. Toss with 2½ Tablespoons olive oil, 1½ teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and spread out in a single layer, leaving as much room as possible around the pieces.
- Roast vegetables on lower rack about 40 minutes, or until browned and tender (stir after they’ve browned underneath, about 25 minutes).
- Meanwhile, make meatballs. With wet hands, mix turkey, fennel seeds, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoons pepper together in a small bowl. Oil your hands with some of remaining oil. Shape turkey mixture into 1-inch meatballs and set them on an oiled rimmed baking sheet as you go, using more oil as needed to coat them well.
- Roast meatballs on upper rack 15 to 20 minutes, turning a couple of times to brown well on all sides.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot over medium-heat. Add leeks and fennel, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Pour in broth and bring to a boil over high heat, covered.
- Lower heat and simmer vegetables until meltingly soft, about 25 minutes.
- When vegetables in oven have caramelized and meatballs are browned, remove both from oven.
- Transfer meatballs to roasting pan.
- Pour a ladleful of hot broth into baking sheet and scrape up browned bits, pour into roasting pan along with all contents of pot and gently scrape up vegetables browned bits.
- Return to oven and bake 5 minutes to let flavors mingle.
Maple Butternut Squash with Cranberries
- 2 Tablespoons margarine
- 2 lbs. butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- ½ cup apricot nectar
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup chopped hazelnuts
- In a large skillet, melt margarine.
- Sprinkle cloves on squash and cook, covered, over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
- Add apricot nectar and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 5 more minutes.
- Gently stir in maple syrup and hazelnuts.
Moroccan Beef Stew
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 lbs. beef stew meat
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 2 cups beef stock
- ¼ cup honey (You can add more if you like; my family doesn’t like it too sweet)
- 1 cup pitted prunes
- ¼ cup roasted pistachios
- In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the stew meat and sauté until no longer brown.
- Add onions and continue to sauté another 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add stock, honey, spices and prunes. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until meat is soft – about 2 hours.
- Sprinkle with pistachios before serving.
Almond Pear Tart
- 1 box of nut cookies
- 4 tablespoons margarine, melted
- Crush cookies into crumbs and add melted margarine. Line a tart or pie pan with the crust. Refrigerate
- 2/3 cup blanched almonds, (about ½ cup finely ground)
- 1 Tablespoon potato starch
- 7 Tablespoons sugar
- 6 Tablespoons margarine
- 1 egg
- 1 small can (about 13 oz.) pear halves
- Sliced almonds
- Mix nuts and potato starch in a food processor. Mix in sugar, then margarine, and blend until smooth. Mix in egg. Cover and chill 3 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Spread filling over crust.
- Slice the pear halves horizontally and gently place in the almond filling. The fat bottom of the pear should be against the rim and all the tops meet in the center.
- Put five pear halves in the shell and leave approximately 2 inches between them so the filling shows a bit.
- Top center with sliced almonds.
- Bake at 350°F for 55 minutes.
Shira Galston is a contributing writer for GourmetKosherCooking.com, a popular Kosher recipes website and blog. She is currently studying in Jerusalem with her husband.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.