Chosen Bites: Passover game plan

Because all extra virgin olive oils are kosher for Passover and year round, make sure you purchase a great oil.

Cooking Oil 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Cooking Oil 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
All extra virgin olive oils are kosher for Passover and year round, even without kosher supervision. How awesome is that? We may give up our breads and cakes for eight days, but we will emerge from the holiday having feasted on foods made with delicious and healthy extra virgin olive oil. You cannot say that about Passover cooking oil which tends to be harsh and bitter and not healthy like extra virgin olive oil. How much cooking time and how many ingredients do you need to cover up the taste of bad oil?
Because all extra virgin olive oils are kosher for Passover and year round, make sure to purchase a good quality oil. The oil should have a low acidity, be from a single farm or estate and should have been pressed with a few days of harvest. Many great oils will state their techniques on the label and will state that the oil was pressed on the day of harvest.
A great extra virgin olive oil may cost a bit more than mediocre oil, but remember, the people you are cooking for are family and friends and are worth the health benefits and deliciousness of a great meal.
Relish of Artichokes
The relish is a concoction of early spring and late winter vegetables. I serve it with roasted chicken, duck and fish. It adds flair to any meal and for Passover we drizzle our matzo with extra virgin olive oil and herbs and then dollop some of this springtime treat on top of it for a crunchy snack, side dish or appetizer before the Seder meal.
Yields about 2 cups
1 pound fresh baby artichokes or frozen artichoke hearts1 fennel bulb, cut into julienne (save fronds for garnish)2 leeks, white parts only chopped3 cloves garlic1 tablespoon tomato paste½ cup white wine½ cup golden raisins¼ cup pine-nuts¼ cup chopped fresh mint + additional for garnish½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley2 tablespoons chopped fresh thymeExtra virgin olive oilSalt and pepper
1.    To clean the artichokes, use a paring knife to cut the outside leaves free from the body of the vegetable. Continue turning your knife around the artichoke until the leaves are pale yellow. Be sure to leave the stem intact and peel some of the tough green fibers from the outside to reveal the inner soft white core. The stem gives the artichoke a pretty shape! Cut the artichoke in half lengthwise and scoop out the choke (if any) with a melon baller. Place the artichoke pieces in a bowl of cold water with lemon juice squeezed into it to keep the artichokes from turning dark.
2.    Place a large sauté pan over medium high heat and coat the bottom lightly with extra virgin olive oil. Add the fennel pieces and leeks. Sauté the vegetables until they are lightly browned and have softened. Add the drained artichokes and continue sautéing until the artichokes are lightly browned. Add the garlic, tomato paste and white wine. Stir together. Add the raisins and turn down the heat to low and allow the mixture to simmer until the artichokes can be easily pierced with a paring knife (about 15-20 minutes).
3.    Place a small sauté pan over medium heat and add the pine-nuts. Toast the pine-nuts until they are lightly browned (about 5-7 minutes). Watch them carefully as they can burn quickly.
4.    Add the pine nuts to the mixture. Add the mint, parsley and thyme. Salt and pepper to taste.
5.    Serve the relish warm or cold. The relish can be made three days before serving and stored, covered, in the refrigerator.