Recover from Passover’s matzah-fest with recipes based around light and healthy fresh spring produce.
Having just completed Chag Hamatzot, we can start focusing on the spring part with a well deserved, “Aaaahhhh.” The weather starts to get better, the crocuses and tulips are starting to peep out of the ground in front of my house, and the beautiful sparrows are due back at any moment to build their yearly nest above our porch light.
After all that matzah, we just want to eat lighter, healthier, and dig into all the fresh spring produce. It’s a great time to take a field trip down to your local grocer or produce store to check out what’s fresh, new and exciting. I drive the workers at my favorite produce store a little crazy asking about how to cook some of the wackier items I’ve discovered.
Enjoy these recipes with a new “spring” in your step and “Freedom” in your heart (aka z’man cheruteinu).
Cauliflower “Rice” With Colorful Roasted Baby Peppers
One of the novel new concepts I found when researching wheat/grain-free recipes for Passover was Cauliflower Rice. Although it sounds complicated, it’s really a very simple process with delicious low/no carb healthy results. I added seasonal sweet roasted baby peppers and Vidalia onions to mine for a recipe that you won’t believe is good-for-you!
nonstick vegetable spray
1 large Vidalia (or sweet) onion, diced (around 2 cups) divided
1 lb. colorful roasted baby peppers
3 Tbsps. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1⁄2 tsp. dried rosemary
1 large head cauliflower, broken into florets, dried
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350˚. Line a large baking sheet with foil, spray with nonstick vegetable spray. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine one cup of the diced onions with the whole baby peppers, then toss in 11⁄2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and rosemary. Evenly spread on the prepared baking sheet and bake uncovered for 30 minutes until slightly browned and caramelized. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Remove the stems from the roasted peppers, then dice. Set aside.
Place half the cauliflower in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the cauliflower is coarse and “ricelike” with several pulses. Do not overprocess. Remove the cauliflower into a large bowl and repeat with the other half of the cauliflower. With a smaller processor you may need to work in several smaller batches.
Heat remaining 11⁄2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the second cup of Vidalia onions and garlic and saute until clear and slightly caramelized. Add the cauliflower “rice” and stir until cauliflower is cooked through and dry, around 5 to 7 minutes. Do not overcook or the “rice” will become mushy.
Add the diced baby peppers and roasted onions to the cauliflower “rice” and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or cold.
Serves 4 to 6.
Eggplant Tofu Rolls With Fresh Tomato Topping
The key word in this recipe is fresh! It can be made ahead for a light spring dinner.
nonstick vegetable or olive oil cooking spray
1 large eggplant (about 2 lbs.), thinly sliced into 1⁄8-inch slices (16 large eggplant circles)
1 package super firm tofu, sliced into 16 long pieces
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1⁄4 cup packed fresh basil
12 Roma tomatoes, quartered
2 Tbsps. olive oil
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄2 tsp. black pepper
Preheat oven to 375˚.
Cover two rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil, then spray with nonstick vegetable spray. Evenly place the eggplant slices on the trays and spray the slices with nonstick vegetable spray. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the trays after 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the slices from one of the trays and re-spray with nonstick vegetable spray.
Place a piece of sliced tofu centered on an eggplant slice. Fold the right and left edges of the eggplant overlapping over the tofu, and place fold side down on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the eggplant.
For the fresh tomato topping, place the garlic and basil in the bowl of a food processor and process until combined. Add the tomatoes, olive oil, salt and pepper, and process until tomatoes are coarsely chopped.
Spoon the fresh tomato topping evenly over the eggplant. Return the tray to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Serve hot.
Makes 16 slices.
Green Garlic Asian Green Bean Salad
I found green garlic at my favorite local mega-fruit store. It looks like scallions and is much milder than garlic cloves without losing the zesty garlic flavor. I had to ask a manager who knew where to find it; it was listed as garlic scallions. If you can’t find it at your local produce store, you can substitute a clove of regular garlic for 2 stalks of green garlic. Also, make sure you use toasted sesame oil. It gives a stronger “sesame” flavor and allows you to use less oil than the untoasted variety.
3 lbs. fresh green beans, trimmed
2 Tbsps. toasted sesame oil
2 Tbsps. (gluten-free) soy sauce
2-3 stalks green garlic, thinly sliced diagonally
1⁄4 cup sliced almonds
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Working in two batches, add the green beans and boil for 3 minutes. Immediately remove the beans from the pot to a strainer and rinse with cold water. Transfer the beans to a large bowl.
Using the same boiling water that was used for the first batch, boil the second batch of green beans for three minutes, rinsing with cold water when done. Transfer to the large bowl of beans. Add the toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, green garlic and sliced almonds and toss until combined.
Serve cold as a salad or warm as a side dish.
Serves 6 to 8.