The Passover seders fall midweek this year: the first one on Wednesday, April 5, and the second on Thursday, April 6. Most of us go out of our way to prepare substantial festive meals for a substantial number of guests. But after all that (coupled with the preparation involved and dish-cleaning afterwards), I’m looking to follow these feasts with a Friday-night Shabbat dinner that’s a bit lighter than usual.
Skip the usual soup and stick with the two proteins: fish and meat. Each may become a year-round favorite.
In a treasured paperback cookbook, held together with a rubber band, I found a recipe for Piquant Meatballs. It came from an “almost ancient” Jewish cookbook (published in 1956) called Love and Knishes by Sara Kasdan. It was my standby for casual suppers with friends when the kids were safely tucked up in bed. Adapted slightly for the holiday, it’s a no-fuss, tasty dish.
To make matters quicker, make the meatballs as part of the larger pre-Passover cooking frenzy and stick in the freezer. The same goes for the slaw. The macarons can also be prepared ahead of time and stored in a tight-lidded container, though they are fresher the day of. The salmon fillets can be pan-seared an hour or so before needed.
Even though it is the second day of the holiday, food preparation for Shabbat is allowed as per the Laws of Yom Tov, but check with a rabbi.
Crunchy Cucumber Slaw
Seared Salmon Steaks
Crunchy Cucumber Slaw (Pareve)
*Shredded broccoli is available in the supermarket vegetable section
*Red onion may be thinly sliced on a mandolin; a kitchen utensil made up of a flat surface fitted with a sharp blade.
½ cup apple-cider vinegar
¼ cup water
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp. salt
2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced (about ¼ inch thick)
1½ cups shredded broccoli
½ red onion, thinly sliced
1 to 2 Tbsp. snipped fresh dill or 1 to 2 tsp. dried
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Stir to dissolve sugar. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, place the cucumbers, broccoli and onion. Pour the vinegar mixture over, stirring to coat evenly. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
Drain off any liquid.
Sprinkle with dill and serve.
Seared Salmon Steaks (Pareve)
*Recipe may be doubled.
*Salmon steaks or cod may be substituted for fillets.
*If the fish is not descaled, use a knife to gently scrape off the scales.
*For those who prefer not to use heat, fish can be prepared ahead of time and served cold or at room temperature.
4 Tbsp. pareve margarine, softened
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
4 salmon fillets, skin on, 6 oz. each, 1-inch thick
1 Tbsp. potato starch or matzah meal (either works fine, though matzah meal makes more of a crunch)
1½ tsp. mixed-seasoning blend (look for Lieber’s, Pereg, etc.)
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
In a small bowl, blend the lemon juice into the margarine. Set aside.
With a paper towel, pat the salmon on both sides to dry completely. In a shallow dish, combine the potato starch or matzah meal and seasoning. Dust the salmon on both sides with the mixture.
Heat the oil in a large heavy, nonstick skillet over medium heat until the oil is shimmering, not smoking. If a drop of water sizzles when dropped, the oil is ready.
Place the salmon fillets in skillet, skin-side down. Press down with a wide spatula for 10 seconds to prevent curling. Sear for 5 to 6 minutes until salmon appears 80% to 90% opaque. The top won’t be done.
Flip over with a spatula. Add the margarine mixture stirring around the salmon until it melts. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes longer.
Flip salmon over, skin-side up. Arrange on a serving platter, drizzle remaining juices over top and serve.
Piquant Meatballs (Meat)
*A mixture of turkey, chicken and beef may be used.
1½ pounds ground beef
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 Tbsp. matzah meal
1 bottle (12-ounce) chili sauce
6 oz. grape jelly
juice of 1 medium lemon
Combine the beef, egg and matzah meal. Shape into balls the size of a walnut (about 1½ inches in diameter). Set aside.
In a large pot, mix the chili sauce, grape jelly and lemon juice over medium heat until melted. Add the meatballs, cover and simmer 30 minutes. Uncover and cook 5 minutes longer. Stir often to avoid sticking.
Serve with the slaw.
Chocolate Macarons (Pareve)
Makes 24 sandwiches
3 egg whites
1 cup sugar
½ cup finely ground almonds
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup dark pareve chocolate chips, melted and cooled to room temperature
about ⅓ cup Israeli dark-chocolate spread, pareve and kosher for Passover
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with aluminum foil. Spray with nonstick cooking spray with flour. Set aside.
Place the egg whites in a medium bowl and whisk until stiff. Beat in the sugar gradually, about ⅓ cup at a time. The mixture should be glossy and peak softly.
Fold in the almonds, vanilla extract and melted chocolate, mixing until no white streaks remain.
Drop by the teaspoonful onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake in preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Macarons will have a firm crust and be soft in the center. Let cool slightly on baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack. They will firm up in a few minutes.
When completely cooled, sandwich together with the Israeli dark-chocolate spread.
Ethel G. Hofman is a widely syndicated American Jewish food and travel columnist, author and culinary consultant.