Enjoy the Freedom of Passover Dining in Style

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Cooking on Passover does not need to be inherently bland — in fact, it can even be upscale.

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 Joy of Kosher 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 said.
 
The following recipes from joyofkosher.com can make for a fancy kosher-for-Passover dinner that Geller believes will impress your guests.
 
Eggplant Tomato Stacks
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-inch 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
3 cups marinara sauce 
fresh chopped parsley, for garnish
 
Preheat oven to 375˚.
 
Dip the eggplant slices in egg and then in the seasoned matzah meal.
 
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.
To aeemble the stacks: Lightly grease the bottom of a 9×13-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.
 
Bake covered for 20 minutes.
 
Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.
 
Dress It Up: For a quick and elegant time saver, warm sauce and pre-plate individual stacks. Alternate 2 or 3 layers of eggplant and sauce and garnish with fresh herbs.
 
Serves 6.
 
Homemade Marinara Sauce
Serve with the eggplant stacks.
 
2 Tbsps. olive oil
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 bay leaves
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 onion, finely chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cups water
 
Heat the olive oil on a medium-high flame in a medium stock pot and then add the oregano, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Stir. 
 
Add the onion 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 paste and the water, and cook over a medium flame for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
 
Makes 3 cups.
 
Grilled Ribeye with Crispy Parsnips
Crispy parsnips are the perfect slightly sweet alternative to French fries.
 
8 medium parsnips, peeled
4 cups olive oil
6 ribeye steaks, 1-inch thick, room temperature (6-8 oz. each)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
 
Using a peeler, peel parsnips into thin strips until you cannot peel anymore of the parsnip. 
 
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. 
 
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.
 
Serves 6.
 
Chocolate-Mango Ganache Truffles
This ganache is pareve and works well for cake fillings, frosting and truffles.
 
14 oz. bittersweet chocolate (at least 70 percent cacao)
1 cup mango puree
2 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean, scraped
 
In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate with the mango puree, being careful not to burn the chocolate. Cool slightly.
 
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 ribbon-like 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).
 
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 one week.
 
Makes 36 truffles.
 
All recipes except the dessert are courtesy of Jamie Geller and Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine. The recipe for Chocolate-Mango Ganache Truffles is courtesy of Chef Laura Frankel and Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller Magazine.
 

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