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A TASTE OF ISRAEL
When it comes to Passover, many Sephardi Jews customarily eat rice, legumes, corn and green beans -- all foods that are forbidden to Ashkenazim for the eight days.
Of course, these customs vary from country to country, and even from city to city. Some Jews of Moroccan origin eat special kosher-for-Passover rice on the holiday; others do not.
The laws are both fascinating and complicated. But if your family custom does not allow the use of legumes on Passover, try these dishes during the rest of the year.
A baked dairy pie -- great alternative to those heavy meaty Pesach meals.
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsps. olive oil
2 packages (10 oz. each) frozen spinach, thawed
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 carton (16 oz.) cottage cheese
2 cups milk
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400°.
Heat olive oil in a small frying pan. Saute until golden. Remove from heat.
Put spinach in sieve and squeeze/press out as much liquid as possible.
Add spinach to sauteed onion and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes over medium heat.
Remove from heat and stir in dill, salt, and pepper.
Pulse cottage cheese in food processor with milk, eggs and nutmeg until smooth. Reserve 2 cups in a bowl; stir remainder into spinach. Stir in half the feta cheese.
Stack matzahs in deep dish and pour reserved cottage cheese mixture over. Let stand 15 minutes to soften.
Place 2 of the matzahs side by side in greased 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Cover with half the spinach filling. Top with 2 more matzahs, and then pour any remaining cottage cheese mixture over them. Sprinkle with remaining feta cheese.
Bake until golden and set, about 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Persian CharosetIf you are Sephardi, enjoy this on matzah all during Pesach as well as at the seders. Ashkenazim can enjoy it the other weeks of the year on matzah, challah or as a topping for pound cake.
1 cup roasted shelled pistachios
1 cup blanched slivered almonds
1 cup golden raisins
1 cup dark raisins
2 tsps. ground cardamom
2 tsps. ground allspice
2 tsps. grated ginger
2 medium apples, cored and peeled
2 Tbsps. orange zest
2 Tbsps. cider vinegar
1 and 1/2 cups pomegranate juice (to taste)
1 and 1/2 cups sweet red wine (to taste)
Combine pistachios, almonds, raisins, cardamom, allspice and ginger in a food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped.
Add apples and bananas; pulse until coarsely chopped. Add orange zest, vinegar, 1 cup pomegranate juice and 1 cup wine; pulse until a coarse paste forms, adding more vinegar, juice or wine to taste. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
A Pesach delicacy from the Jews of Morocco. Yes, I realize that the Jews in Morocco didn't have soup mix, but we can use it!
4 large potatoes, peeled
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. soup mix (parve "chicken," mushroom or onion)
1 small red bell pepper, cut into small cubes
1 can (14.5 oz.) peas and carrots, well-drained
1/4 cup olive oil
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced thin
Cook potatoes in boiling salted water until soft. Drain well and mash.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Mix potatoes with hard-boiled eggs, salt, pepper and soup mix. Stir in red pepper and peas and carrots.
Heat oil in a 8- or 9-inch-diameter ovenproof baking pan over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Pour in about half of the egg mixture. Top with half of the hard-boiled egg slices.
Cover with remaining batter and top with remaining egg slices.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until golden on top and set.
BimuelosBimuelos have been described as sort of a fried Turkish matzah ball. Perhaps "fritter" is more appropriate. There are also chametz-type versions for this treat which include flour and yeast: both no-nos on Passover. Serve for breakfast or dessert or at any time.
To Prepare Syrup: Cook honey and water over a low flame until the syrup comes to a boil and thickens, about 15 minutes. Add lemon juice and cook another 15 minutes. Keep warm.
To Prepare Dough: Wet matzah farfel under running water and squeeze dry. Place in a large bowl. Beat in eggs and salt; mix well.
Heat oil in a large frying pan. Drop batter into pan by large spoonfuls (use two spoons to make it easier). Fry until golden on one side, then flip to fry second side, until golden brown. Place on paper towels to absorb oil.
Dip in prepared syrup; sprinkle with chopped nuts. Serve immediately.
Rivka Tal is a former Minnesotan who has lived in Jerusalem for the past 45 years. She is a food writer and translator. Email her at: email@example.com.