Mediterranean-Style Passover Menu

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This menu borrows from flavors of the Mediterranean.

Garlic, lemons, olives and rosemary infuse the braised lamb shoulder with an interesting but not overly exotic taste. The potatoes, mashed with olive oil, chicken stock, salt and pepper deliver a creamy comfort without any dairy. And the coconut ganache tart will make you forget that you are eating a Passover dessert.

Mediterranean Braised Lamb with Green Olives

Serves six

Using a bone-in roast delivers additional flavor and depth to this dish. The braising liquid makes a wonderful sauce to ladle over mashed potatoes or to use as a dipping sauce for matzah.

  • 4 pounds bone-in lamb shoulder
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 cup green olives, pitted, with liquid
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup water (or more if needed)

Rub the lamb all over with oil, salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, sear the lamb on all sides.

Remove the dish from the heat, and add the remaining ingredients to the Dutch oven, pouring them evenly over the lamb. Heat your oven to 300 degrees.

Cover the lamb, and braise it in the oven for 4-5 hours, checking occasionally to baste and make sure there is sufficient liquid in pot — it should cover the lamb about halfway. If it’s too dry, add water.

When the lamb is done, it will be fork tender and falling off the bone. Remove it from the oven, and take the lamb out of the liquid. Set it aside and keep warm.

Remove the garlic and bring the liquid to a boil. Cook uncovered until it is thickened and reduced by half; season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the braising liquid as sauce with the lamb, and to top potatoes.

Mashed Potatoes

Serves four

While traditional mashed potatoes are laced with butter and milk, this version, which is plenty tasty, is A-OK to serve with meat. If you have homemade stock, be sure to scoop the schmaltz and add it to the potatoes. Yukon Gold potatoes deliver a creamy buttery flavor to this dish, but any potato will work just fine.

  • 2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut in quarters
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¾ -1 cup chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and crushed garlic, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes until the potatoes are soft and a fork can be easily inserted in the pieces.

Drain potatoes, and return them to the pot. Add the olive oil and half the stock. Mash the potatoes until smooth; add more stock if needed, then salt and pepper to taste. Serve piping hot.

Sauteed Spinach

Serves four

If you prefer to use another green, this preparation is extremely adaptable. Hardier greens like kale take longer to cook, but everything else is the same.

  • 2 pounds fresh spinach leaves, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ lemon

In a large skillet, heat the oil and add the garlic, salt and pepper flakes.

When it begins to sizzle, add the spinach and mix, coating the leaves with the oil and turning over with tongs to cook evenly.

Cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Spritz with lemon juice and serve.

Coconut Ganache Tart

Serves eight

This tart is out of this world; gone are the days when Passover desserts were drab, tasteless affairs. Coconut cream takes the place of heavy cream in this dairy-free ganache, and crushed macaroons deliver a pie shell that will make you forget graham crackers ever existed.

The ganache also can be used as icing, fondue or to top ice cream or sorbet.

For crust:

  • 1½ cups crushed macaroons
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • ⅓ cup sugar

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients.

Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan.

Bake 5-7 minutes until golden brown.

Cool completely before filling.

Ganache

  • 1 11-ounce bag dark chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup coconut cream (the thick cream that separates in a can of full fat coconut milk; discard the water portion or save for another use)

Place the chocolate chips in a medium-sized glass bowl.

In a small saucepan, heat the coconut cream until it melts.

Pour the hot coconut cream over chocolate and mix it until smooth. If the chocolate does not melt completely, place the bowl in a microwave oven and heat on 50 percent power at 30-second intervals, stirring in between each interval until the ganache is totally smooth.

Pour the ganache into a pie shell and allow it to set.

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