People know what to serve at Passover seders: gefilte fish, matzah ball soup, hard-boiled eggs and Bubbe’s brisket. But after consuming those fancy, filling meals, a whole week looms ahead, a time when people are both observing Passover and figuring out what to eat.
Adding to the challenge this year, there is widespread coronavirus, which has made meal planning during Passover more complicated. People are fearful of food shopping, so they visit supermarkets infrequently or rely on food delivery services, which are sometimes overwhelmed with demand. Due to sporadic shortages, ingredients are sometimes unavailable. I’ve learned to make substitutions.
Traditionally, I prefer foods during Passover that are lighter than typical seder dishes and more like the way I usually eat. I gravitate toward the Mediterranean diet, incorporating Sephardi cuisine into menus. I serve wholesome chicken and fish with fresh vegetables and fruit.
Over Passover’s eight days, I like light fare that may not be dressy enough for seders but is simply delicious.
Why is this Passover different than all other Passovers? Because with the COVID-19 pandemic, groceries are less accessible than usual. Therefore, many of the ingredients in the recipes below can be altered or adjusted as indicated.
Toasted Matzah and Olive Oil | Pareve
This is a tasty snack or hors d’oeuvre.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, or more, if needed
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder or onion powder
- 2 squares of matzah, broken into 4 pieces (8 pieces in all)
- Kosher salt to taste
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange the matzah pieces on aluminum foil.
Place the olive oil and garlic or onion powder in a small pot. Heat over a medium-low flame until warm.
Slide the matzah into the oven. Bake for 2-3 minutes, or until warmed through and browning on the edges. Remove the matzah from the oven. Brush the olive oil mixture lightly on the matzah. Sprinkle with salt. Serve immediately.
Fish Tagine | Pareve
Moroccan Jews adore tagines, which are slow-cooked stews. This recipe is a main dish in one pot.
- Nonstick vegetable spray or oil for coating
- Kosher salt to taste
- 4 potatoes, any kind, peeled and cut into ¼-inch slices
- 6 (6-ounce) skinned fish fillets, such as snapper, halibut, cod or tilapia
- 4 tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch slices, or use canned tomatoes
- ⅓ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 cup water
- 2 lemons, cut into ¼-inch slices
- 10 parsley sprigs or cilantro springs, finely chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper, or use black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, or any cooking oil
Coat a large Dutch oven with nonstick spray or oil. Sprinkle a little salt on the sliced potatoes, and arrange them in the bottom of the Dutch oven. They can overlap. Sprinkle a little salt on the fish fillets. Cover the potatoes with fish. Then add a layer of tomatoes.
Mix the turmeric into the water and pour it in. Cover the Dutch oven and simmer over a low flame, until the potatoes are slightly tender, about 15 minutes after the water comes to a simmer.
Squeeze a couple of lemon slices over the top. Sprinkle in the parsley, garlic and pepper. Cover and simmer until the fish is flaky, about 20 minutes. Spoon olive oil over the dish. Place the remaining lemon slices over the top and serve immediately.
Ratatouille | Pareve
Yield: 8 servings
This Provençal vegetable medley is as healthy as it is delicious.
- 2 medium eggplants, skinned and cut into 1-inch cubes
- ½ pound mushrooms, sliced. Use canned mushrooms if fresh ones are unavailable.
- Olive oil, as needed, or use any cooking oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 medium zucchini or yellow squash, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 plum tomatoes, diced, or used canned tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, crushed
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, or any vinegar on hand
In a large saucepan, sauté the eggplant and mushrooms in olive oil over a medium flame. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir until lightly browned. Add the zucchini, onion, garlic and tomatoes. Stir until the vegetables soften, about 20 minutes. Add more oil, if needed.
Sprinkle in the thyme. Add the lemon juice and vinegar, mixing well.
Serve hot or at room temperature. Or refrigerate covered for up to 2 days and serve hot or cold.
Sephardi-Style Macaroons | Pareve
Yield: 36 cookies
Instead of vanilla, this recipe is traditionally made with rosewater or orange blossom water, which are often too assertive for Ashkenazi tastes.
Equipment: food processor, 3 baking sheets, 3 pieces of parchment paper and an electric mixer
- 3 cups blanched slivered almonds
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon vanilla, orange extract or lemon extract
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cover the baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place the almonds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process the almonds until they are ground fine, like coarse sand. Move them to a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar, egg whites and vanilla or lemon or orange extract. Using an electric mixer, mix the ingredients until well combined.
Drop the mixture from a teaspoon onto the baking sheets. Leaving space between cookie dough, there should be 12 cookies on each sheet.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly golden brown. The cookies will be soft when removed from the oven, which guarantees a chewy texture. Cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheets and move them to platters until they reach room temperature. Serve immediately or move the cookies to containers with a strong seal. This recipe freezes well.