Passover without potatoes

For last few days of longer-than-usual Passover, lighter meals, fewer potatoes are particularly welcome.

By FAYE LEVY
April 11, 2012 11:11
Prepare satisfying side dishes

Prepare satisfying side dishes. (photo credit: courtesy)

Midway through Passover, a friend grumbled about the holiday’s food, saying that she’s tired of potato dishes which make her Passover menus too heavy.

Aviva Kanoff felt the same way. “As I found myself dreading the very thought of another potato-filled Passover,” she writes, ”someone proposed a fantastic idea to me: creating a low-carb Passover cookbook.”

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Kanoff decided to force herself “to think outside the box and come up with lots of potato alternatives.” The result is her new book, The No-Potato Passover.

Two foods that Kanoff recommends adding to Passover menus are quinoa, a high protein grain-like seed that many rabbis do not consider to be kitniyot and is therefore acceptable for Passover for Ashkenazim as well as Sephardim; and spaghetti squash, which is low in calories and, when cooked, looks somewhat like spaghetti. Compared to spaghetti, wrote Kanoff, “it’s much lower in carbohydrates and won’t leave you feeling lethargic.” She makes it into spaghetti squash kugel by mixing the shredded squash with eggs, salt, pepper, sugar and a little matza meal, then bakes the mixture in a pan in which she has heated a little vegetable oil.

For a simpler recipe, she makes garlic spaghetti squash with basil by heating baked, shredded squash with sauteed onion and garlic, baby tomatoes and fresh basil. Another tasty side dish is roasted cauliflower, which she prepares by mixing cauliflower florets with olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper and baking them until they turn golden brown.



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My own Passover meals aren’t too heavy because my menus during the holiday follow the same pattern as those of the rest of the year – I include a high proportion of vegetables, especially cooked ones. Preparing satisfying side dishes from vegetables is the key to Passover meals that are filling without too many potato dishes. For me, a good way to get ideas and inspiration is to learn what my vegetarian friends are cooking and to consult vegetarian cookbooks.

Deb Roussou, author of 350 Best Vegan Recipes, makes vegetable dishes that are simple to prepare and are suitable for Passover. Her festive side dish of lime- and saffron-caramelized carrots is made by sauteing carrot slices in olive oil with lime juice and zest, saffron, salt and pepper.

Another dish that’s perfect as an appetizer for the Holiday of Spring is her balsamic asparagus with walnuts, for which she cooks asparagus pieces with minced shallot sauteed in olive oil and then simmers them briefly with the vinegar and walnuts.

Roussou also makes an easy Mediterranean casserole that requires no separate sauteing of the components. She layers salted eggplant slices, after patting them dry, in a baking pan with sliced red onion, mushrooms, green peppers and tomatoes, drizzles them with olive oil and sprinkles them with chopped fresh oregano, salt and pepper; she then bakes the casserole in a medium oven until the vegetables are tender. Roussou serves the casserole for lunch with a Greek salad but you could also bake it alongside a chicken for an easy-to-make holiday or Shabbat dinner.

THIS YEAR, many will be eating Passover food for an extra day because in Israel the last day of the holiday falls on Friday. For practical purposes, in observant households the food served on Shabbat will be cooked on Friday and will therefore be Passover food.

In addition, there’s a special halachic procedure to allow people to cook on this Friday for Shabbat. Lise Stern, author of How to Keep Kosher, explains how it works: “The restrictions for cooking on Yom Tov are that you can cook on that day – but only for that day. There is a special challenge when... Yom Tov is followed by Shabbat, with no break in between.

“In order to prepare food for Shabbat on a Yom Tov day, you need to perform a ceremonial procedure called eruv tavshilin, literally a “mixing of dishes.” Before... Yom Tov, you need to prepare a symbolic amount of food... Often a hard-boiled egg is used.”

You say a blessing on this food, along with a piece of matza, and then set the two pieces of food aside and save them to eat on Shabbat. “The eruv tavshilin,” writes Stern, “symbolically indicates that you already started Shabbat food preparation before the Yom Tov began, so anything you might make on Friday is actually a continuation of that process.”

For the last few days of this longer-than-usual Passover, lighter meals with fewer potatoes are particularly welcome.

Faye Levy is the author of Healthy Cooking for the Jewish Home.

CAULIFLOWER KUGEL WITH SAUTEED ONION

This light kugel, made with only a tablespoon of matza meal, was a favorite of my mother’s. She seasoned hers only with salt, pepper and paprika; I like to add cayenne pepper for extra zip. Sometimes I add a pinch of turmeric while sauteing the onions, to give the kugel a slightly spicy aroma and a delicate golden hue. The kugel is good with roasted or braised chicken, or for a vegetarian meal with sauteed vegetables and a big salad.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

1 large cauliflower (900 gr. or 2 pounds)
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 to 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil or
grapeseed oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1⁄4 tsp. turmeric (optional)
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp. matza meal
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
About 1⁄2 tsp. paprika (optional)

Preheat oven to 190ºC (375ºF). Divide cauliflower into medium florets. Cut peel from large stalk and slice stalk. Boil cauliflower in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 8 to 10 minutes or until stalks are very tender. Drain well and cool. Mash with a potato masher or puree in a food processor, leaving a few small chunks.

Transfer to a bowl.

Heat 1 or 2 tablespoons oil in a medium nonstick skillet. Add onion and saute over mediumlow heat, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes or until onions are golden brown. Add turmeric and saute, stirring, for another few seconds.

Add eggs and matza meal to cauliflower mixture.

Season well with salt and pepper. Lightly stir in onion mixture and any oil in pan.

Oil a shallow 20-cm. (8-inch) square baking dish. Add cauliflower mixture. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon oil over top. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake in upper third of oven for 40 minutes or until set and very lightly browned on top. Remove from oven and run a knife around edges. To serve, cut carefully in squares. Use a spoon to remove portions.

LEMON- AND SAFFRON-CARAMELIZED CARROTS

This recipe is adapted from 350 Best Vegan Recipes. Author Deb Roussou makes these sweet and savory candied carrots with lime zest and juice, but lemon works well too. No sugar is added; the recipe gains its sweetness from the natural flavor of the carrots and from caramelizing them.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

2 Tbsp. olive oil
30 gr. (2 Tbsp.) margarine
6 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced into coins
Zest and juice of 1 small lemon
1⁄2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1⁄4 tsp. salt
Pinch of saffron

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and let pan get hot. Add oil and when hot, add margarine to melt, tipping pan to coat. Add carrots, lemon zest, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, pepper, salt and saffron and toss to coat.

Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until carrots are tender and very caramelized, 10 to 12 minutes. Serve hot.

Variation: Omit the saffron and lemon zest and simply sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley and a drizzle of lemon juice.


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