Suddenly, a Cinch!

Once upon a time, cooking for Passover was a real chore. In the old days, folks planned and created Passover meals using the very basic ingredients available — matzah, matzah meal and cake meal. For this eight-day holiday, leavened foods — chametz — are strictly forbidden. Besides flour and breads, all foods containing even a speck of grain or cereal products — as well as any foods made from them, such as grain alcohol and corn oil — cannot be used.
Legumes like peas, beans and corn are also prohibited, though some Sephardim do permit rice after it has been checked that no chametz or other grains are present. In addition, all items used for this holiday must be labeled "kosher for Passover."
But these days, fixing appealing meals and snacks has never been easier. Just check out the Passover section in your local supermarket. Menachem Lubinsky, co-producer of the Kosherfest trade show, notes that more than 21,000 items are available for consumption on Passover. And each year, new and exciting products appear on the store shelves.
For example, the Israeli company Jordan Valley features a variety of confitures that can be used beyond spreads. There are frozen soups in a bowl from Kedem; just pop into the microwave, and the office lunch problem is solved. Alle Processing offers shelf-stable dinners like beef goulash and stuffed cabbage — great for travel.
And for kids come pancake mixes, applesauce in reclosable containers and even pizzas. Bakery items go across the board, from pareve to dairy. Cinderella Sweets Bakery from New York offers 44 different bakery items, including lemon-colada layer cake and even sugar-free desserts.
The two menus below — one dairy and one meat — may be quickly prepared, and served for a weekday or Shabbat Passover dinner. Make double quantities of the entrees. Serve half, then freeze or refrigerate the rest for later. Recipes may be doubled.
Make sure that all ingredients are clearly labeled kosher for Passover.
Green-Olive 'Bruschetta'
    1/4 cup green olives, coarsely chopped
    1/4 cup prepared tomato salsa
    1 Tbsp. finely ground almonds
    2 Tbsps. finely chopped parsley
    1 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
    salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
    1 whole-wheat matzah, cut in 8 pieces 
In a small bowl, mix together the olives, salsa, almonds, parsley and 2 teaspoons olive oil.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. May be made ahead and refrigerated.
Just before serving, brush the matzah pieces with the remaining oil. Then run under the broiler for a minute or two to crispen.
Spoon the olive mixture on top and serve.
Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 82; protein, 1 g; carbohydrates, 8 g; fat, 6 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 235 mg.
Glazed Chicken Breasts
Jordan Valley confiture (preserve) was used to test this recipe, but other preserves may be used.
For Glaze:
    3 Tbsps. fig and apricot confitures
    2 Tbsps. olive oil
    1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
    1 tsp. bottled minced garlic
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
    1 chicken (31/2 lbs.), quartered
    Preheat oven to 375°.
    Spray a medium-sized baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
    In a small bowl, combine the preserves, oil, lemon juice, garlic, cinnamon and pepper.
    Brush chicken on all surfaces with glaze. Place in the prepared baking pan, skin-side up.
    Bake for 30 minutes. Brush with any remaining glaze.
    Reduce heat to 350°.
    Bake 30 minutes more, or until juices run clear when pierced with a knife at the thickest part.
    Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 234; protein, 5 g; carbohydrates, 10 g; fat, 20 g; cholesterol, 43 mg; sodium, 31 mg.
   Mandarin Beet ​Salad
        1 can (15 oz.) sliced beets, drained
        1 can (8 oz,) mandarin orange slices, drained
        2 Tbsps. chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
        2 Tbsps. bottled vinaigrette dressing
        4-6 cups baby greens
        1/4 cup chopped walnuts
    In a bowl, place the beets, orange slices and cilantro.
    Pour the dressing over top; toss gently to mix.
    Divide the baby greens onto four salad plates. Spoon the beet-orange mixture over top.
    Garnish with walnuts.
    Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 80; protein, 2 g; carbohydrates, 11 g; fat, 4 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 222 mg.
    Fussless Vegetable Kugel


  Vegetables may be purchased shredded and sliced, making this a super-simple side dish.

        1 package (6 oz.) potato-kugel mix
        3 eggs
        13/4 cups warm water
        1/4 cup, plus 4 Tbsps., olive oil
        1 medium onion, thinly sliced
        2 cups shredded carrots
        2 cups sliced mushrooms
        1 package (10-ounce) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
        1/2 tsp. white pepper or to taste
    Preheat oven to 425°.
    Spray a 9-inch square baking pan.
    Pour the potato-kugel mix into a large bowl. Add the eggs and the water. Beat with a fork until well-blended.
    Set aside for at least 10 minutes to thicken. Stir in 1/4 cup oil.
    To prepare vegetables, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over high heat.
    Add the onion and cook until golden-brown, stirring often. Add to the kugel mixture.
    Add the carrots and mushrooms to the skillet (no need to wash the skillet or add any extra oil). Cook over high heat until mushrooms are beginning to brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.
    Add to the kugel mix, along with the spinach, and pepper to taste. Mix well.
    Transfer to baking pan.
    Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil.
    Bake for 30 minutes.
    Reduce heat to 375°.
    Bake 30 minutes longer, or until nicely browned and firm in the center.
    Serves 4 to 6.
    Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 223; protein, 4 g; carbohydrates, 16 g; fat, 15 g; cholesterol, 80 mg; sodium, 453 mg.
    Tropical Tiramisu


        1 cup crushed pineapple in natural juice
        1 ripe medium mango, diced
        1 medium banana, mashed
        1 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
        4 slices sponge cake, about 1-inch thick
        6 Tbsps. banana liqueur or flavor of choice
        11/2 cups nondairy whipped topping, divided
        mint sprigs to garnish (optional)
    In a bowl, mix the pineapple, mango, banana and mint.
    Place a slice of sponge cake on each of 4 dessert plates.
    On each slice, sprinkle about 11/2 tablespoons liqueur.
    Spoon about a quarter of the fruit mixture over. Top with a large dollop of whipped topping.
    Garnish with a mint sprig (optional). Repeat with remaining ingredients.
    Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 324; protein, 3 g; carbohydrates, 58; fat, 8 g; cholesterol, 39 mg; sodium, 115 mg.
    Wilted Vegetable Soup, Israeli-Style


       1 Tbsp. olive oil
        1 medium onion, coarsely chopped or 1 cup frozen chopped onion
        1/2 cup chopped fennel
        1 medium zucchini, diced
        1 medium green apple (Granny Smith), peeled and chopped
        1/4 cup chopped black olives
        1 Tbsp. snipped fresh tarragon or 1 tsp. dried
        5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
        1/4 cup light cream or nondairy creamer
        11/2 cups shredded escarole or spinach, tightly packed
        salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
    Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium high heat.
    Add the onion. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it has lost its raw look.
    Add the fennel, zucchini and apple. Sauté for 5 minutes longer.
    Stir in the olives, tarragon and vegetable broth. Reduce heat to medium. Bring to simmer.
    Cook 10 minutes longer. Remove from heat.
    Whisk in the cream or nondairy creamer. Add the shredded escarole or spinach, stirring until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes.
    Season with salt and pepper.
    Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 109; protein, 4 g; carbohydrates, 5 g; fat, 7 g; cholesterol, 14 mg; sodium, 150 mg.
   Chilean Sea Bass With Parmesan Crust


    This pearly white, large flaked fish, also known as Patagonian Toothfish, was first fished in the 1980s in the deep waters off Chile. Any other fish, such as tilapia or salmon, may be substituted.

       4 portions (about 6 oz. each) Chilean sea bass
        3 Tbsps. unsalted butter or margarine, melted
        1 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
        1 tsp. lemon juice
        1 Tbsp. snipped chives
        2 Tbsps. grated Parmesan cheese
        3 Tbsps. unsalted matzah meal
        salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
    Preheat oven to 425°.
    Spray a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange the fish in one layer in dish.
    In a small bowl, combine the butter or margarine, mustard, lemon juice, chives, Parmesan cheese and enough matzah meal to make a soft spreadable mixture. Spoon equally onto the sea bass, pressing lightly with back of a spoon to spread.
    Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until flakes are opaque when separated with point of a knife.
    Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 281; protein, 33 g; carbohydrates, 5 g; fat, 13 g; cholesterol, 95 mg; sodium, 207 mg.
   Citrus-Scented Jicama-and-Carrot​ Salad
    Jicama, a Mexican vegetable, is white and crunchy. Bok choy is similar in taste to celery. Together, they make a nice crunchy salad.
        2 cups shredded jicama
        2 cups shredded carrots
        1 medium red bell pepper, cut in thin strips
        2 stalks bok choy, shredded
    For Dressing:
        2 Tbsps. lime juice
        1 Tbsp. frozen orange-juice concentrate, thawed
        1 Tbsp. vinaigrette dressing
        1 Tbsp. fresh or frozen chopped chives, thawed
        1/4 tsp. garlic powder
        1/4 cup olive oil
        freshly ground pepper to taste
    In a large bowl, place the jicama, carrots, bell pepper and bok choy. Set aside.
    Whisk all the dressing ingredients together.
    Just before serving, pour the dressing over vegetables. Toss.
    Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 181; protein, 1 g; carbohydrates, 14 g; fat, 14 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 15 mg.
    Stuffed Mushro​om


    Save about 11/2 teaspoons mixture from a box of seasoned coating for potatoes (kosher for Passover) to make this easy side dish.

        4 medium (about 3 inches in diameter) Portobello mushrooms
        1 Tbsp. margarine
        1 small onion, chopped
        1/3 cup chopped walnuts
        11/2 tsps. seasoned coating mix
        2-3 Tbsps. olive oil
    Preheat oven to 400°.
    Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
    Clean the mushrooms by running under cold water and patting dry with paper towels. Place on baking sheet. Remove stems and chop coarsely. Set aside.
    Place margarine and onion in a small microwave bowl. Microwave on medium for 25 seconds, or until margarine is melted.
    Add the chopped mushroom stems, walnuts, seasoned coating mix and enough olive oil to make a crumbly mixture.
    Spoon into mushroom caps. Pat down to flatten. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.
    Bake for 15 minutes.
    Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 153; protein; 2 g; carbohydrates, 2 g; fat, 16 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 34 mg.
    Molten-Chocolate Dessert ​Kugel
    Run cold water through cooked Passover noodles to help prevent stickiness.
        8 oz. Passover noodles
        1 Tbsp. olive oil
        4 Tbsps. unsalted butter, melted
        2 eggs
        1 cup light sour cream
        8 oz. low-fat, small-curd cottage cheese
        8 oz. light cream cheese
        1/2 cup, plus 2 Tbsps., sugar
        1/8 tsp. orange extract or 1 Tbsp. grated orange rind
        1 dark-chocolate candy bar (3.5 oz.), broken in roughly 1-inch pieces
    Preheat oven to 350°.
    Spray a 9-inch-square baking dish.
    Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain; run cold water through; drain again. Toss with olive oil and set aside.
    In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese, sugar and orange extract. Stir in the noodles.
    Pour half into the prepared baking dish, spreading over bottom of dish.
    Arrange the chocolate over top and cover with the remaining noodle mixture. Don't worry if some of the chocolate pieces are not covered.
    Bake for 45 minutes, or until beginning to brown and almost firm in center. Serve hot or at room temperature.
    Serves 8 to 10.
    Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 350; protein, 11 g; carbohydrates, 39 g; fat, 17 g; cholesterol, 80 mg; sodium, 185 mg. 


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