Passover Palate: Recipes to De-stress the Chef

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Salmon cakes with tropical fruit salsa
Salmon cakes with tropical fruit salsa are an elegant, light and refreshing starter course.
(Courtesy of Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller)

By Jamie Geller / JTA

Passover may be the mother of all kitchen yuntifs, but stay cool and don’t stress. Here are some of my favorite recipes from prior Passovers that you will love this Passover and all year.

Last year, 99% of what I made for Passover weren’t actually Passover recipes. Of course they were kosher for Passover, but they didn’t require any major Passover ingredient tweaks. These recipes were developed with Passover in mind and have become staples in my year-round repertoire because they were super easy and got the most oohs and ahhs.

OK, real gourmet chefs don’t keep a tally of how many people flipped over this or that dish — but I really need to know. The winners on my menu get to come back and try for eternal stardom.

And the winners are:

Salmon Croquettes with Tropical Fruit Salsa: You can make this even easier by skipping the fresh salmon and using good-quality canned salmon.

Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper Sauté: Shamelessly simple and super beautiful, it is pleasing to the eye and the palate. Audience applause told me that the zucchini actually tasted better when prepped this way.

Pomegranate-Braised Brisket: So tender and so sweet, this piece of meat just melts in your mouth.

Follow my lead, and this year every dish you serve will be truly delicious, not just “pretty good for Pesach stuff.”  Chag kasher v’sameach — have a happy and kosher holiday.

Salmon Cakes with Tropical Fruit Salsa

Servings: 10 cakes

Croquettes are cute and elegant for your starter course. They’re also wonderfully light and refreshing. The tropical salsa is a combination of fresh pineapple, mango, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro and lime juice — the perfect complement to the richness of the salmon. The balance of sweet and savory flavors instantly pleases the palate. This is a starter with zing.

Times:

Preparation: 15 minutes

Cooking: 45 minutes

Ready: 60 minutes

For cakes:

  • 1 (2-pound) side of salmon, skin on
  • ½ cup red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons matzoh meal
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

For salsa:

  • 1 cup diced pineapple
  • ½ cup diced mango
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • ½ jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease a large baking sheet. Bake the salmon skin side down for 25 to 30 minutes or until cooked all the way through. Let it cool completely.

Once the salmon is cooled, gently flake away from the skin and break it into large chunks. Place it in a large bowl and combine it with the eggs, red onion, matzoh meal, salt and pepper. Stir to mix well. Scoop about ⅓-cup at a time into your hands and form into a round patty about ¼-inch thick. Place it on a sheet pan and repeat with the remaining mixture until you have formed 10 cakes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine the pineapple, mango, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice and salt. Mix well and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Fry 5 cakes at a time for about 5 to 8 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy. Drain them on a paper
towel-lined plate while frying the remaining cakes.

To serve, top each cake with a few tablespoons of salsa.

Zucchini and Red Bell Pepper Sauté

Zucchini and red bell pepper sauté
Zucchini and red bell pepper sauté is simple to make, and pleasing to the eye and the palate. (Courtesy Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller)

Servings: 8

Preparation: 10 minutes

Cooking: 15 minutes

Ready: 25 minutes

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 medium zucchini, sliced into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 roasted red bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini ribbons and sauté them for 6 to 8 minutes or until slightly softened. Add the garlic and sauté 3 minutes more. Add the bell pepper and sauté 5 more minutes or until warmed. Stir in the paprika; salt and toss to coat.

Pomegranate-Braised Brisket

Servings: 8

Preparation: 5 minutes

Cooking: 4 hours

Ready: 4 hours, 5 minutes

  • 1 4-pound first cut beef brisket
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 medium onions, peeled and cut into eighths
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 cups pomegranate juice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Season the brisket with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large roasting pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear the brisket about 4 minutes per side or until browned. Remove and set aside.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and sauté the onions and garlic for 5 minutes over medium-low heat until softened. Return the brisket to the pan and add the pomegranate juice, broth, honey, bay leaves and thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Transfer the plan to a preheated oven and roast for 2 hours.

Flip the brisket and continue roasting it for 1 to 1½ more hours or until tender. Let the brisket rest for 10 minutes before thinly slicing it against the grain. Strain the liquid and serve it on the side as au jus. l

Jamie Geller is the author of the bestselling “Quick & Kosher” cookbook series and creator of the Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller magazine. This article was first published by JTA in 2012.

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