(March 25, 2013 / JNS)
While planning what to cook to feed the whole Mishpucha (family) on Passover’s big seder night, it’s easy to forget to plan your meals for the rest of the holiday week. Suddenly, lo and behold, you find yourself staring at the wide-open cupboard with nothing but matzah staring back at you.
But not to worry! Passover isn’t Yom Kippur, and with the right preparation, you can still eat a decent meal.
With more than 6 million books in print, Mollie Katzen is listed by the New York Times as one of the best-selling cookbook authors of all time and has been named by Health Magazine as one of “The Five Women Who Changed the Way We Eat.”
Below, Katzen offers some exciting vegetarian, pareve and dairy-based recipes to spice up your daily meals during the eight days of Passover. These recipes are all Passover-friendly (no leavened bread) and fit both the Ashkenazi and Sephardic cuisine traditions:
Asparagus is the emblematic spring vegetable, and Passover is the spring holiday.
Eggs are another seasonal symbol, so combine them all and get a tasty meal from the obvious, delicious mix.
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely minced onion
4 medium stalks asparagus, trimmed of the tough ends, peeled if desired, and sliced into thin (1/8-inch) diagonal coins
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 teaspoon minced garlic
8 large eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces feta cheese
1) Place a 10-inch skillet with an ovenproof handle over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, wait about 10 seconds, then swirl to coat the pan. Add the onion, and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the asparagus, salt, tarragon, and garlic, cook for about 3 minutes or until the asparagus is tender-crisp and remove from the heat.
2) Break the eggs into a large bowl, and beat well with a whisk. Add the sautéed vegetables, grind in some black pepper, crumble in the cheese and stir until blended. Clean and dry the skillet and return it to the stove over medium heat. Preheat the broiler.
3) When the skillet is hot again, add the remaining 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, wait about 30 seconds, and swirl to coat the pan. Pour in the vegetable-egg mixture and let it cook undisturbed over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the eggs are set on the bottom.
4) Transfer the skillet to the preheated broiler, and broil for about 3 minutes, or until the frittata is firm in the center. Remove the pan from the broiler, and run a rubber spatula around the edge to loosen the frittata. Slide or invert it onto a large, round plate, and serve hot, warm, or room temperature, cut into wedges.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Thick, round and crisp eggplant slices become meltingly tender in the center when cooked. Serve on a bed of your favorite tomato sauce or roast some Roma tomatoes (see next recipe) and use them as a sauce. Top with a spoonful of pesto or Salsa Verde.
Use a big, chubby eggplant for nice round slices of burger dimensions. Choose an eggplant with tight, shiny skin and no wrinkles, soft spots or blemishes since you will not be peeling it (Eggplant peel is edible). You’re going to need to do this in batches so use two frying pans going and plan the timing accordingly.
1 large eggplant (about 1 3/4 pounds), unpeeled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon water
1 cup matzo meal
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil (possibly more, as needed)
Herbs in the panko (Italian seasoning, or a combination of dried thyme and oregano, about 1/2 teaspoon each)
Up to 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese in the panko will make it crispier and more flavorful.
Mozzarella cheese melted on top, Pesto sauce, tomato sauce.
Make this vegan by swapping in 1/2 cup plain soy milk for the eggs and water.
1) Slice off the eggplant top and bottom, and discard. Use a sharp knife to cut the eggplant crosswise into half-inch slices. You should end up with about 12 to 14 rounds.
2) Break the eggs into a pie pan, then beat with a fork or small whisk, adding the teaspoon of water as you go. When the eggs become smooth, stop beating and set this aside.
3) Combine the matzo meal, salt and pepper on a dinner plate. Have a second dinner plate (or several) ready for the coated eggplant slices. (Also have some damp paper towels ready to wipe your hands, as needed.)
4) One at a time, dip the eggplant slices into the egg, then let any excess egg drip off back into the bowl. Put each moistened round into the matzo meal mixture, pressing it down firmly, so the crumbs will adhere. Then turn it over, and press the second side into the crumbs until it becomes completely coated all over. Shake off any extra of the mixture, then transfer each coated slice to the other plate.
5) Place a large (10- to 12-inch) heavy skillet over medium heat and wait for about a minute. Pour in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Wait a little longer until the oil is hot enough to sizzle a dot of matzo meal on contact.
6) Carefully transfer the coated eggplant slices (as many as will fit in a single layer) to the hot pan. Cook undisturbed for 4 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom. Use a metal spatula to carefully loosen each piece, keeping its coating intact (you don’t want to lose any of it to the pan). Flip it over, and cook on the second side for another 4 to 5 minutes, until the coating is evenly golden all over, and the eggplant becomes fork-tender. (You might need to drizzle in additional olive oil as you go, if the pan seems dry.)
7) Transfer the cooked slices to the cooling rack and repeat the cooking with the remaining slices. (If you want to keep them hot, transfer them to a cooling rack on a baking sheet and keep them in a low (250° F) oven while you cook the remaining slices.) Serve as soon as possible.
Makes 12 to 14 slices (2 to 3 per serving)
Slow-Roasted Roma (Plum) Tomatoes
Use these as tomato sauce by just mashing them. Tuck them into the side of a plateful of a delicious dinner. True, they need to spend a long time in the oven, but slow-roasted roma tomatoes actually require very little work, so plan to make them on an evening or afternoon when you are doing other things. A small slick of olive oil on top will help preserve them in a covered container in the refrigerator.
1 to 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds medium-sized Roma tomatoes
1) Heat the oven to 275°F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment and coat it with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
2) Core the tomatoes and halve them lengthwise, then cut them in half again to make long quarters (unless they were small to begin with). Arrange the tomato slices skin side-down on the prepared baking sheet; okay if they are touching.
3) Place the baking sheet on the center rack of the oven. After an hour or so, the tomatoes will have stuck slightly to the foil. Loosen them gently with a small spatula and/or by shaking the baking sheet. (The parts that tend to stick are the most delicious, so you don’t want to leave these stuck to the foil.)
4) Repeat this process of moving around and jostling every 10 minutes or so for the second hour. At some point turn the tomatoes over, using tongs.
5) You get to decide when they’re done–but let this be at least 2 1/2 hours after they’ve been in the oven. And it could be even longer. Keep in mind that smaller slices will “shrink” and roast faster than larger ones. You can remove those from the tray with tongs as you go. You will probably eat them. Just being realistic.
6) When the tomatoes are done to your liking, remove them from the oven and let them cool to room temperature directly on the foil. If there are any left at this point, transfer them to a storage container with a tight fitting lid, and drizzle the tops with a little extra olive oil. Refrigerate and use as desired.
Yield: 6 to 8 small servings of a few slices each. Easily multiplied.
Rhubarb Crisp for Passover
Rhubarb has a short season every spring, usually coinciding with Passover.
2 pounds rhubarb (8 or so jumbo stalks)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup farfel, buzzed to bread crumb consistency in a food processor
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon safflower or canola oil – or whatever your everyday kitchen oil is
Pinch of salt
1) Heat the oven to 400°F. Meanwhile, chop the rhubarb into ¼-inch slices.
2) When the oven is hot, place 2 tablespoons of the butter in a 9 X 13-inch baking pan and set it in the oven for a few minutes so the butter can melt and the pan gets hot.
3) Carefully remove the pan, and swirl to coat the entire inner surface with the butter.
4) Scatter the chopped rhubarb in an even layer and put the pan back in the oven for 20 minutes. Interrupt once or twice during this time to shake the pan to get the butter distributed throughout the rhubarb.
5) After 20 minutes, shake the pan again. Reserve one tablespoon of brown sugar from the cupful, then sprinkle the remaining brown sugar over the rhubarb. Shake or stir —or both—to coat, then return the pan to the oven while you quickly prepare the topping (5 minutes or less).
6) To do so, simply combine the farfel crumbs with the cinnamon, granulated sugar, reserved tablespoon of brown sugar and possible dash of salt. Melt (microwave for 20 seconds) the remaining tablespoon of butter and add this, along with the tablespoon of oil. Toss with a fork until uniform, then sprinkle the mixture over the top of the rhubarb.
7) Return to the oven for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until it bubbles with enthusiasm. Remove and cool to desired eating temperature, which should arrive no sooner than a good 15 or 20 minutes, so as not to burn your mouth. (That sugar gets HOT.)
Yield: 6 or more servings.
Dab it onto scrambled eggs, pasta (hot and cold), many soups, simple bean preparations, burgers, savory pancakes, plain cooked rice and more. Use salsa verde to green up your rice, put on pasta, grilled fish or vegetables. This will stay fresh for a good while in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator or frozen.
A packed ½ cup each:
Scallion (about 4 large or 6 slim)
1/2 teaspoon minced or crushed garlic
Scant ¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1) Place the herbs, garlic and salt in the small bowl of a food processor and pulverize as far as possible without adding liquid. You’ll likely need to stop a couple of times to scrape down the sides.
2) Add 1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon/lime juice, buzz to blend, and then drizzle in the oil as you keep the machine running. When it’s completely blended, taste for salt and possibly more vinegar or lemon/lime juice.
Makes about ¾ cup