We have a guest editor for a collection of Passover recipes. Naomi is a Rabbi and has been a guest blogger several times here on the blog. I’d asked for a few recipes from the list and she has produced this great post. Take a look and even if you do not celebrate Passover, there are some great recipes here.
The Ranting Chef thought it would be fun and helpful to have a post recommending recipes for the upcoming holiday of Passover (this year from the eve of March 25 – April 2). With over a year’s worth of posts, his blog has quite a few options that are able to be eaten with the Passover dietary laws or easily modified. As I’m beginning to prepare my kitchen for the holiday and plan meals, it seemed like perfect timing to go through the blog. (See below for my take on Passover and food.)
My basic advice for cooking for Passover is as follows:
– Don’t overuse prepackaged foods (no offense to Manishewitz and its factory in Cincinnati)
– Don’t eat or try to make what really can’t be made well
– Modify favorite dishes
– Be creative, innovate!
– Use fresh fruits, vegetables, and eggs (and for non-vegetarians, meat, fish, and poultry)
– Use the wonder-food quinoa as a substitute for rice or couscous
– Use spaghetti squash as a substitute for pasta
– Creatively use matzo or matzo meal as a flour substitute (best for breading an ingredient or creating a topping, not so much for baking)
Here are the recipes I identified that can be made koksher for Passover and are a combination of traditional Jewish Ashkenazi (Eastern European) cuisine and new tastes.
(use matzo meal instead of flour)
Tomato Soup (either the awesome way I presented it in
or in the Ranting Chef’s modified version in
(use matzo meal; Ashkenazi tradition would eliminate
the chickpeas and use another vegetable oil instead of sunflower oil)
(spaghetti squash can be used as a pasta substitute in numerous ways)
(made with Matzo meal instead of flour)
Passover & It’s Elaborate Approach to Food
Passover is a holiday celebrated through eating. It is the Jewish holiday par excellence for infusing its cuisine with symbolic meaning. All for the purpose of telling the Biblical story of the exodus from slavery and for spiritually examining themes of bondage and freedom as they are experienced today, Vegetables are dipped in salt water for tasting the bitterness of slavery. Charoset (a mixture of crushed apples, cinnamon and red wine) is eaten to taste and feel the texture of the mortar slaves used for building. Passover is a family holiday in which it is incumbent upon parents to tell the story of the Exodus from slavery to their children and many of the traditions and food are playful and intended to prompt questioning from even the youngest child. One more extreme tradition for trying to connect with the themes of the holiday and to prompt questioning is a Persian Jewish custom of whacking one another with scallions at one point during the Seder (festive meal) to reenact slave drivers whipping their slaves.
More recent Passover Seder innovations have included placing an orange on the Seder Plate as a statement of advocacy for gay rights and the use of a Miriam’s Cup filled with water for women’s rights.The most well-known food is matzo, an unleavened bread usually made from water and flour (of any of the five major grains) that have been carefully tended from harvest through the baking process to make certain that they have no leaven in them. This flat bread symbolizes the bread of the escaping slaves who did not have time for their bread to rise. Mystical and psychological interpretations of the holiday encourage using this time to get rid of whatever “puffs up” our personalities – whether it is ego or arrogance. Matzo then symbolizes being more down to earth.
Besides the foods eaten with intentional symbolism, religious Jews also observe a food restrictions throughout the 8 days of the holiday. (In the State of Israel and in the Reform Movement, 7 days are observed; the Bible calls for 7 days and rabbinic Judaism added an additional day). One can think of it as a spiritual version of Chopped (or Diced!). The basic food restriction is to avoid foods or drinks made by five grains – wheat, rye, barley, oats, and spelt – unless they have been prepared according to specific guidelines. Except for the wheat in matzo and matzo meal, most Jews avoid these ingredients altogether.
Ashkenazic Jews (who trace their ancestry and customs to Eastern Europe) additionally follow a custom of also not eating rice, corn, peanuts, or other vegetables in the pea family, treating them as hametz (leven) because these products swell when cooked and so resemble a leavening process. Middle Eastern and Sephardic Jews (who trace their ancestry and traditions to Spain and Portugal] allow these products to be eaten.