If you're preparing for Passover, which begins the evening of April 14, right now your head is probably full of visions of charoset, horseradish, gefilte fish, matzo ball soup, tsimmes, roast chicken, brisket, potato kugel, macaroons and angel food cake. Which pretty much takes care of the first seder, the feast that starts the holiday. Hopefully you're invited somewhere for the second seder and will have a break from cooking. But Passover lasts for eight days, leaving many meals to be planned.
By the time day four or five arrives, it's a safe bet you've finished up all the seder leftovers and, anyway, you're tired of heavy, meaty meals. One solution is to re-charge by shifting to plant-based dishes. With that in mind, we've happy to share recipes from Jamie Geller, author of Joy of Kosher: Fast, Fresh Family Recipes and food blogger Whitney Fisch of Jewhungry.
One non-meat favorite, which has been around for decades, is a dairy lasagna. Geller's version of this Passover classic smothers layers of matzo with tomatoes, roasted vegetables and ricotta cheese, transforming the hard crackers into soft pasta-like layers. Trust us, you won't miss the noodles.
Roasted vegetables also come into play in an asparagus and cauliflower salad by Fisch. This is a nice entrée for lunch or a light dinner - come to think of it, not just during Passover, but anytime.
"It's really good to focus on what you can eat, rather than what you can't. If you just think, 'I can't have bread' or no beans or no rice, you're not going to get anywhere," said Fisch, one of four co-authors of the new best-selling e-cookbook 4 Bloggers Dish: Passover: Modern Twists on Traditional Flavors.
Half of the proceeds from the e-book go to Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger. This nonprofit works to "ensure that hungry people have access to nutritious food today and that no one goes hungry tomorrow."
Fisch explained that she and the other authors wanted to do something to help this cause. She regards writing a food blog as a privilege: "People who get to see it have computers and can put food on the table. Eating is not necessarily a given for everyone in this world. Especially with Passover, celebrating our freedom - to sit around the table and just eat and eat - let's remember what we're celebrating here."
Asparagus and Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Blueberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
From: Whitney Fisch (4 Bloggers Dish: Passover: Modern Twists on Traditional Flavors)
Serves 4 -6
1 bunch asparagus, with 1 inch cut off from bottom of each, parboiled
1 head of cauliflower, diced and roasted
Candied walnuts (recipe below)
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 small purple onion, diced
3 cups mixed greens
Dressing (recipe below)
½ cup sugar
1 ½ cups raw walnut halves
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Use middle rack in oven. Lay walnuts out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 5-6 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in pan.
2. Pour sugar into a medium saucepan with a thick bottom. Cook sugar on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon as soon as the sugar begins to melt. Keep stirring until all the sugar has melted and the color is a medium amber. As soon as this happens, add the walnuts to the pan, quickly stirring and coating each piece with the sugar mixture.
3. When the walnuts are coated with the sugar mixture, spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet, lined either with a non-stick mat or parchment paper. Use two forks to separate the walnuts from each other, working very quickly. Sprinkle the nuts with the salt. Let cool completely.
2 teaspoons blueberry preserves
½ cup fresh organic blueberries
2 teaspoons canola or vegetable oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt
1. Place preserves, blueberries, oil and balsamic vinegar into a food processor or blender and pulse to
combine. Add a pinch of salt, and, if necessary, adjust vinaigrette to your liking by adding additional fruit and/or balsamic vinegar.
Salad Preparation and Assembly:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 400°F. Place chopped cauliflower florets on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper, to taste. Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Once done, set aside and cool.
2. While cauliflower is roasting, fill a medium-sized saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil. While this water is boiling, place cold water and ice into a large mixing bowl and set this near the sink. Add the asparagus to the boiling water and reduce heat slightly to a simmer. Parboil the asparagus for exactly 2 minutes. Drain the hot water. Transfer asparagus to the bowl of cold water and ice, making sure all the asparagus is covered (if necessary, add more cold water and ice.) Let sit for 2 minutes, drain water and set aside.
3. Place mixed greens into a large bowl. Top with the roasted cauliflower, parboiled asparagus, chopped onions, candied walnuts and Parmesan cheese.
4. Top with dressing and serve.
Roasted Summer Squash Lasagna
From: Joy of Kosher: Fast, Fresh Family Recipes. by Jamie Geller.
Note: Fontina is a cow's milk Italian cheese. Fairly acidic, it melts nicely and imparts a delicate flavor to the dish you are cooking. Gruyère, Emmental, Edam, and Gouda may all be substituted for Fontina. All are available with kosher certification.
2 large green zucchini, trimmed and cut lengthwise, ¼ inch thick
2 large yellow summer squash, trimmed and cut lengthwise, ¼ inch thick
2 tablespoons olive oil?
2 teaspoons kosher salt?
1 15-ounce container whole milk ricotta cheese
1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded Fontina cheese
1 large egg, beaten?
1 tablespoon dried basil?
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound matzo
1 28-ounce or 2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly spray 2 baking sheets with cooking spray.
2. Arrange the zucchini and yellow squash in an even single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Brush with the olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Roast until tender and browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
3. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Spray or grease a deep 9 x 13-inch lasagna pan.
4. Combine the ricotta, half the mozzarella, the Fontina, egg, basil, oregano, pepper, and the remaining one teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Stir well.
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5. To assemble: Cover the bottom of the pan with one-quarter of the matzo overlapping them slightly. Spread half of the ricotta mixture over the matzo. Follow with half of the roasted squash, and top with a layer of matzo. Spread with half of the tomatoes and half of the remaining mozzarella. Top with another layer of matzo, the remaining ricotta mixture, the remaining squash, and another layer of matzo. Finish with the remaining tomatoes, the rest of the mozzarella, and the Parmesan. Lightly spray one side of aluminum foil with cooking spray. Cover the lasagna with the foil, sprayed side down, so that the melted cheese won't stick. Bake 30 minutes, remove the foil, and continue baking until golden brown and bubbly, 10 to 15 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
Add 1 large eggplant sliced ¼ inch thick, 1 large red onion sliced ¼ inch thick, and 8 ounces sliced mushrooms to the squash for roasting. Layer in the same way, but use ½ cup chopped fresh basil in place of the dried herbs. Garnish with additional fresh basil right before serving.