Pascale’s Kitchen: Time to prepare for Passover

Many of us have picked partners from different cultures, and it’s beautiful to experience the magic that occurs when we combine the best of the various culinary traditions.

 Salmon in harissa (photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Salmon in harissa
(photo credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

Once again, Passover is upon us, and it’s time to begin preparing our menu for Seder night. We all love partaking in the age-old traditions and Seder night rituals as we read the Haggadah with our families and guests. Regardless of which community you grew up in, we all like to prepare the same dishes each year, following grandma’s tried and true recipes that are special for the spring Festival of Freedom.

Nonetheless, there is always room for minor changes and additions of new dishes or recipes. So many of us have picked partners from different cultures, and it’s beautiful to experience the magic that occurs when we combine the best of the various culinary traditions.

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In an effort to get into the holiday spirit, I invited Chef Oren Giron, owner of Osim Bishul (“Cooking” – osim-bishul.co.il) who has been working in the food industry since he was 14, when he would sell frozen dough in the summers.

 The writer with Oren Giron (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) The writer with Oren Giron (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)

After Oren completed his IDF military service, he began studying at Tadmor Hotel Management and Culinary School. After successfully completing this course, he went on to study at Le Cordon Bleu in London from where he graduated with distinction, receiving Le Grand Diplôme, the most prestigious culinary qualification and most comprehensive professional chef diploma. 

Before returning to Israel, Oren received the great honor of preparing a meal for the British royal family, which was attended by none other than the late Princess Diana, Prince Charles, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

Upon returning, Oren began managing a catering business and consulting for leading food companies, as well as for TV and radio programs. In 2003, he opened his own cooking school, Osim Bishul (www.instagram.com/osimbishulorengiron) together with his wife and talented team. When the COVID-19 epidemic arrived on the scene, they worked diligently to restructure their format to adapt to the new health restrictions. Now, Oren continues to offer boutique catering services.

I was so excited to sit down recently together with Oren to hear which dishes he recommends serving this year for Passover that are easy to prepare, but that also make a great impression.

Note: All the recipes use measurements in grams.

May we all have a happy and tasty Passover!

Salmon in harissa

Makes 6 servings.

  • 2 Tbsp. harissa, medium spiciness
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds, crushed
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 400 gr. filet of grouper, bass or salmon (remove skin and bones, and slice into pieces)

Crust:

  • 50 gr. ground almonds
  • 50 gr. flax seeds
  • 50 gr. ground hazelnuts
  • 50 gr. sunflower seeds
  • 20 gr. matza meal
  • 1 tsp. coarsely ground garlic
  • 1 tsp. coarsely ground chili pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 30 ml. olive oil

Confit:

  • 500 g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 6 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 50 ml. olive oil
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Leaves from 4 stalks of thyme
  • 30 gr. silan
  • 30 gr. pomegranate concentrate
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Mix the harissa with the olive oil and spices together in a small bowl, then spread mixture on the fish filets.

To prepare the crust, mix all the dry ingredients together in a food processor, then add the oil and mix until crumbly.

To prepare the confit, mix all the ingredients together in a pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn down the flame and cook until mixture thickens.

Cover the fish pieces with the crust mixture, then place on a baking tray.

In an oven that has been preheated to 220°, roast the fish for 12 minutes until it turns golden brown. Serve with confit.

Level of difficulty: Easy-Medium.Time: 1 hour.Status: Parve.

 Crispy hasselback potatoes (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Crispy hasselback potatoes (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Crispy hasselback potatoes

Makes 12 servings.

  • 15 medium-sized white potatoes
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 100 ml. white wine
  • 300 ml. soup stock
  • 1 Tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. ground zaatar
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt

Topping:

  • Thyme or zaatar leaves

Rinse the potatoes well, then dry them off. Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise, and then make thin slices, but not all the way through, so that it stays all connected on the bottom, like a fan.

Mix the liquids and the spices together and spread over the potatoes.

Line a tray with baking paper and arrange all the potatoes on top of it, with the cut side facing down. Pour the rest of the sauce on the potatoes. Cover with baking paper, and then foil on top.

Bake in an oven that has been preheated to 180° for 1 hour. Remove the covering and broil for a few minutes until they turn golden brown. Serve hot.

Level of difficulty: Easy.Time: 90 minutes.Status: Parve.

 Pargit balls with caramelized leeks (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Pargit balls with caramelized leeks (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Pargit balls with caramelized leeks

Makes 12 servings.

Balls:

  • 50 ml. olive oil
  • 1 onion, grated coarsely
  • 2 leeks, chopped
  • 1 bunch of celery leaves, chopped
  • 600 gr. pargit, ground
  • 1 bunch of parsley, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup cornflour
  • ½ cup garbanzo bean flour
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. curry
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon

Sauce:

  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 onions, sliced into rings
  • 10 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 bunch of swiss chard, chopped
  • 200 gr. green broad beans, peeled
  • 200 gr. fresh peas
  • 1 liter water
  • 100 gr. dried apricots, chopped
  • Juice and zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Topping:

  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped coarsely

To prepare the pargit balls, heat the oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onion and leek until they soften. Let them cool. In a separate bowl, mix the rest of the pargit ingredients together and then place the bowl in the fridge for 30 minutes.

To prepare the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large pot that can be put in the oven. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until they turn golden brown. Add the rest of the ingredients, cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes.

Take the bowl of pargit out of the fridge and form balls with a diameter of 4 or 5 cm. Gently place the balls into the sauce. Shake the pot gently so that the sauce covers all the balls. Cover the pot and bring to a boil.

Place the pot in an oven that has been preheated to 180° and cook for 1 hour. Towards the end of the time, remove the top and let the balls brown lightly. Remove and adorn the balls with fresh cilantro.

Level of difficulty: Easy-Medium.Time: 90 minutes (not including time in fridge).Status: Meat.

 Lettuce salad with passion fruit vinaigrette and nuts (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) Lettuce salad with passion fruit vinaigrette and nuts (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
Lettuce salad with passion fruit vinaigrette and nuts

Makes 6-8 servings.

  • Salanova lettuce
  • Arugula lettuce
  • Bibb lettuce

Nougatine:

  • 50 gr. peanuts
  • 50 gr. sliced almonds
  • 50 gr. sunflower seeds
  • 20 gr. flax seeds
  • 20 gr. chia seeds
  • 50 gr. water
  • 80 gr. sugar
  • 50 gr. silan
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. chili pepper

Vinaigrette:

  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 40 ml. passion fruit juice, drained
  • 20 gr. honey
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 100 ml. olive oil

Rinse and dry all the lettuce leaves.

To prepare the nougatine, roast the nuts and seeds in an oven that has been preheated to 160° for 10 minutes.

Pour the water, sugar and silan into a pot and bring to a boil. Cook until the mixture thickens. Add the nuts, seeds and spices and mix gently. Pour the mixture onto an oiled surface or onto a silicone mat and gently spread out into a thin layer. Let cool, then break it up into pieces. Store in an airtight container.

To prepare the vinaigrette, add all the ingredients to a pot and grind with a hand blender until smooth.

Arrange the lettuce on a serving platter. Drizzle with vinaigrette and sprinkle nougatine pieces on top.

Level of difficulty: Easy.Time: 35 minutes.Status: Parve.

Translated by Hannah Hochner.