For some of us, a certain measure of austerity is associated with the Passover holiday. Just as our people were forced to eat unleavened bread after escaping from slavery in Egypt, we forgo bread and other leavened products in favor of matzah for a week.
At the same time, restaurant chefs, cookbook authors and home cooks alike have been embracing the idea that cooking on Passover does not need to be inherently bland – and can even be upscale.
“The purpose of Passover is to celebrate our freedom from slavery in Egypt. Eating unleavened bread/matzah is due to the haste in which we left. But by no means is the purpose of Passover to remember the lack of normal food,” says cookbook author Jaime Geller.
“As with all celebrations, we mark this momentous, life-altering, sea-splitting event in our history with food, family and prayer,” she adds.
Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine and joyofkosher.com staff members, and Geller herself, “stretch and flex and exercise our culinary muscles each and every year coming up with new, creative, inspired and easy recipes and menus to make this Passover the most delicious, enjoyable, memorable holiday ever,” Geller says.
The following recipes from joyofkosher.com can make for a fancy kosher-for-Passover dinner that Geller believes will impress your guests.
Salmon Cakes with Tropical Fruit Salsa
Croquettes are cute and elegant for your starter course. They’re also wonderfully light and refreshing. The tropical salsa is a combination of fresh pineapple, mango, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro and lime juice – the perfect complement to the richness of the salmon. The balance of sweet and savory flavors instantly pleases the palate. This is a starter with zing!
1 (2-pound) side of salmon, skin on
1/2 cup red onion, diced
2 Tbsp. matzah meal
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup diced pineapple
1/2 cup diced mango
1/2 cup diced red onion
2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a large baking sheet. Bake salmon skin side down for 25 to 30 minutes or until cooked all the way through. Let cool completely.
2. Once salmon is cooled, gently flake away from the skin and break into large chunks. Place in a large bowl and combine with eggs, red onion, matzah meal, salt and pepper. Stir to mix well. Scoop about 1/3 cup at a time into your hands and form into a round patty about 1/4-inch thick. Place on a sheet pan and repeat with remaining mixture until you have formed 10 cakes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine pineapple, mango, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice and salt. Mix well and set aside.
4. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry 5 cakes at a time for about 5 to 8 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy. Drain on a paper-towel-lined plate while frying remaining cakes. To serve, top each cake with a few tablespoons of salsa.
Eggplant Tomato Stacks with Homemade Marinara
These individual eggplant stacks are as beautiful as they are versatile – add ground beef to make them heartier.
1 large, long eggplant, peeled and sliced lengthwise into 1/2" slices
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup fine matzah meal or potato starch seasoned with dried parsley, salt and pepper
Vegetable, walnut or hazelnut oil for frying
Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 bay leaves
Fresh cracked black pepper
1 onion, finely chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cups water
1.Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Dip the eggplant slices in egg and then in the seasoned matzah meal.
3. Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Fry the eggplant in batches until golden on both sides; remove and drain on paper towels.
4. To make the sauce, heat the olive oil on a medium-high flame in a medium stock pot and then add the oregano, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Give a few good stirs to release the flavors of the spices.
5. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes or until translucent. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook down for another 5 minutes or until they start to fall apart. Add the tomato puree and the water, and cook over a medium flame for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
6. Lightly grease the bottom of a 9-by-13 inch pan. Cover the bottom with a thin layer of sauce. Place one layer of eggplant, top with sauce, top with eggplant, and top with sauce again.
7. Bake covered for 20 minutes.
8. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.
Grilled Ribeye with Crispy Parsnips
Ribeye is one of the most popular, juiciest, expensive steaks on the market. This cut is more marbled than others, which makes the steak especially tender and flavorful. Crispy parsnips are the perfect, slightly sweet alternative to French fries.
8 medium parsnips, peeled
4 cups olive oil
6 ribeye steaks, 1" thick, room temperature (6-8 ounces each)
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Using a peeler, peel parsnips into thin strips until you cannot peel any more of the parsnip.
2. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Fry parsnips in batches for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and let drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Repeat until all parsnips are fried.
3. Heat grill pan over high heat. Season steaks liberally with salt and pepper and grill for 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare doneness. Let rest 5 minutes before serving or slicing.
Chocolate-Mango Ganache Truffles
A classic ganache has cream and butter in it, but this ganache is pareve and works well for cake fillings, frosting and truffles.
14 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 70 percent cacao)
1 cup mango puree (I prefer Ceres brand)
2 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate with the mango puree, being careful not to burn the chocolate. Cool slightly.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks and vanilla bean on high speed to a ribbon stage (when the whisk is lifted, the mixture falls back into the bowl, forming a ribbonlike pattern on the surface). Turn the mixer speed down and pour the chocolate mixture into the eggs. Scrape down the bowl and return the mixer to high speed. Whip the chocolate ganache until it has completely cooled and is fluffy (about 5 minutes). (The ganache can be stored, covered with parchment or plastic on the surface, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month.)
3. To roll the ganache into truffles, chill overnight. Scoop a small amount of ganache with an ice cream scooper and roll between your hands gently. Roll the truffle into cocoa powder or chopped nuts, or dip it into melted chocolate. Store the truffles in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.