Chosen Bites: An unleavened feast

Don't let the idea of eating matza bring you down. Try these exciting Passover-appropriate versions of your favorite recipes.

Panzanella Salad (photo credit: Courtesy)
Panzanella Salad
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Panzanella Salad
Serves 4-6
This Passover version of the classic Italian salad is a welcome multi textured starter course. I always have dried fruit laying around during the holiday and paired with toasted crunchy matzo, the salad is a winner as a starter or a light lunch.
2 sheets matzo
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1 cup pitted dates, chopped
½ cup raisins
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 red peppers, roasted and sliced
1 fennel bulb, sliced very thinly on a mandolin
4 cups of baby salad greens
For the vinaigrette
½ cup balsamic vinaigrette
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 cup best quality extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 350
1. Brush the matzo with olive oil and toast it for 15-20 minutes until very crispy and slightly browned.
2. Break the matza into big shards. Soak the shards in the vinaigrette
3. Toss the salad together and drizzle with dressing.Albondigas en Salsa Espagnola (Spanish Meatballs)
Meatballs are a welcome dish any time of year and during Passover I like to have them at the ready for quick dinners or lunches when time is short and I would much rather spend it with kids and family.
Do not skip the browning step and that ensures deep rich flavor. The meatballs will also hold up for several days and can be frozen for up to 1 month if there are any leftovers!
serves 4 - 6
2 tablespoons matzo meal
1/3 cup water or stock
1 1/4 pounds ground beef or turkey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 egg
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leafed parsley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly cracked pepper to taste
2 tablespoons matzo cake meal, or as needed
1/3 cup olive oil
1. Add all of the ingredients in a large bowl and lightly mix together to combine. With slightly wet hands to avoid the mixture from sticking, form the meat mixture into meatballs.
2. Heat a large sauté pan, generously coated with olive oil, over medium heat.
3. Dredge the meatballs in matzo cake meal, fry in olive oil until golden brown and crispy and transfer to baking dish, set aside.
Salsa Espagnola (Spanish Carrot and Onion Sauce)
This simple sauce is the perfect topper for fragrant and delicious meat balls. I try to find baby carrots as they are sweet and complement the meatballs perfectly.
2/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped
2 small carrots, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons matzo cake meal
2 cups water or stock
1/2 cup dry white wine or sherry
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1. In a large pan, lightly coated with olive, caramelize onions until they are brown and very fragrant (about 10 minutes). Add carrots and matzo meal and liquid, simmer until slightly thickened and the carrots are very soft. Puree the sauce in a blender (adjust the sauce by adding more liquid if necessary). Season with salt and pepper.
2. Add sauce to meatballs in a casserole and bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes or until meatballs are cooked completely and the sauce is bubbly.
Chef Laura Frankel is Executive Chef for Spertus Kosher Catering and author of Jewish Cooking for All Seasons, and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes.