It’s Passover! What’s for Lunch?

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kale salad
Kale salad (Photo by Keri White)

With much of the Western world reaching for a sandwich at lunchtime, Passover presents us with an opportunity to alter that routine.

Sure, we can simply swap the bread for matzah during this celebration, but that can be messy and kind of monotonous. Ever try to bite into a tuna matzah sandwich? The matzah cracks and the tuna lands in your lap.

To avoid this embarrassment, why not branch out a bit and take the chance to observe the holiday with some noontime variety?

Today we will explore some midday meal options that go beyond the sandwich. And, of course, we fully support the substitution of matzah for bread if your lunch is “sandwich or bust,” be it with turkey, PB&J, cheese or the filling of your choice.

But if you are open to a bit of variety, consider these tasty, Passover-friendly options.

Mexican-style Chicken Salad in Avocado

Serves 4 generously

This is a delicious, healthy and visually appealing meal. If avocados are not your jam, you can certainly put a scoop of this tasty salad on a bed of greens or atop matzah. The seder likely will provide a good bit of leftover chicken, so this is a unique and flavorful way to use it.

This is portioned generously, with a whole avocado and a cup of chicken salad per person. It can certainly be stretched to serve more, using just ½ of an avocado per person and a ½ cup of the chicken salad, especially if you augment the meal with some dressed greens or other veggies, a cup of soup or some matzah.

For the chicken salad:

  • 4 cups cooked chicken, cut in small pieces
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 scallion, white and green parts, sliced
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • Sprinkle of cayenne pepper, or more, to taste (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (to taste)

⅓ cup mayonnaise

To serve:

  • 4 avocados, cut in half
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • Sprinkle of salt

Mix all the chicken salad ingredients in a medium bowl.

Cut the avocados in half and remove the pits. Spritz them with lime juice, sprinkle with salt and fill with chicken salad.

Greek Salad

Serves 2

Passover can be a rather broadening week, what with hearty, multicourse celebratory meals, and a hefty dose of carbs in the matzah, matzah ball soup and other dishes. With that in mind, sometimes a light lunch is just what the doctor ordered.

While this recipe does not draw much on seder leftovers, it delivers a fresh burst of veggies and some briny goodness from the olives and feta. Adding some of the olive juice gives the dressing a boost of flavor and uses something that would likely be thrown out.

For the salad:

  • ½ head romaine lettuce, rinsed, drained and cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup black olives, juice reserved for dressing
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese

For the dressing:

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon olive juice
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Generous sprinkle of fresh cracked pepper
  • Sprinkle of salt, if desired

Place all the salad ingredients in a large, shallow bowl.

Mix the dressing ingredients in a small measuring cup or cruet.

Drizzle the dressing over salad, toss and enjoy.

Kale Salad with Optional Extras

Serves 2-4, depending on portions and what else you are serving

This basic salad is wonderful on its own, but is also a great blank slate for any leftovers you might have. Chicken? Toss it on. Lamb or brisket? Sure. Cold leftover tsimmes? Fair game.

Because kale is so hardy, this can be made a day or so ahead, and packed up for lunch tomorrow or the next day. The flavor actually improves with time because the kale tenderizes a bit and absorbs the dressing.

One complaint I often hear (and lodge) with regard to making kale salad is the effort involved. For best results, you have to “massage” the dressing into the leaves. This is a pain. But I came up with a relatively simple shortcut — I use a potato masher instead of my hands; this breaks down the kale enough to tenderize it a bit and infuse the dressing nicely.

And if you and your crew detest raw kale, the dressing is great on other greens without the potato-masher step.

The salad:

1 large bunch kale, rinsed, with tough stems removed and cut into thin ribbons

The dressing:

  • ¼ cup grapefruit juice
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon agave, honey, maple syrup or sugar (if using sugar, be sure it dissolves completely before dressing salad)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The topping:

  • ½ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint

In a large salad bowl, place the chopped kale.

In a measuring cup or jar, mix the dressing and pour it over the kale.

Using a potato masher (or your hands) work the dressing into the leaves, scrunching and smashing them to break them down a bit.

Add the raisins and mint, and toss. The salad can be served immediately or set aside for several hours or overnight.

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