Meeting the challenge of Passover meals - deliciously

Cooks use new foods and work creatively around holiday's restrictions

April 05, 2006|By SHEILAH KAUFMAN | SHEILAH KAUFMAN,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

No Jewish holiday presents a bigger challenge to the making of appealing cuisine than Passover.

The eight-day holiday, which begins at sundown April 12, creates a formidable culinary task because of its dietary requirements. The Seder is a ritual meal that is incorporated into a traditional service performed in the home. The cook is faced with all of the preparations for the Seder, as well as figuring out how to cope with the limited number of ingredients that can be used to prepare this feast. With many items off-limits, how does a normally creative cook find ways to shine in the kitchen?

INSIDE Passover recipes, plus a list of substitutions for common ingredients pg 5F

Green Olive-and-Walnut Spread

Serves 8

Freezes beautifully. Make a double batch!

1 cup pitted green olives, chopped

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 cup green onions, chopped

1/3 cup vegetable oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

salt to taste

freshly ground pepper

Combine all ingredients except the salt and pepper in a food processor. Process just until the spread holds together, and be careful not to puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Serve with matzo.

From "Simply Irresistible: Easy, Elegant, Fearless, Fussless Cooking," by Sheilah Kaufman

Per serving: 200 calories, 4 grams protein, 20 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 4 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 148 milligrams sodium

Fish With Tomatillos, Avocado and Olives

Serves 4

I developed this with fellow chef Bruce Jensen.

1 1/4 pounds fresh or frozen fish, like tuna steak, cut into serving-size pieces

tomatillos (6 ounces), husked and finely chopped

2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped onion

4-ounce can chopped green chiles, drained, or 1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped

a bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tablespoon lime zest

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/4 cup hot or spicy olives, sliced

half an avocado, pitted, peeled and chopped

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Rinse fish and pat dry.

In a large bowl stir together the tomatillos, onion, chiles or jalapeno, cilantro, lime zest and sugar. Combine cumin (if desired), salt and freshly ground pepper to taste in a small bowl.

Place fish in a lasagna-size baking dish and brush with lime juice. Sprinkle with cumin mixture. Stir the olives and avocado into the tomatillos mixture and toss on fish. Bake uncovered in oven for about 6 to 12 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Courtesy of Sheilah Kaufman

Per serving: 307 calories, 33 grams protein, 16 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 8 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 90 milligrams cholesterol, 252 milligrams sodium

Confetti Vegetable Kugel

Serves 12

Not only is this kugel healthful, but it is good enough to serve year-round.

3 medium zucchini, unpeeled and grated

3 carrots, peeled and grated

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and grated

2 medium onions, finely minced

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/2 cup parsley leaves, finely minced

3 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried

4 large eggs plus 4 egg whites or 6 eggs

1/2 cup potato starch or matzo meal

1 1/4 teaspoons salt or to taste

1/2 teaspoon pepper or to taste

2 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Spray a 3-quart rectangular or oval casserole with nonstick spray. Add vegetable mixture and spread evenly. Bake for an hour and 10 minutes or until golden brown and firm. Freezes and/or reheats well.

From "Healthy Helpings: 800 Fast and Fabulous Recipes for the Kosher (or Not) Cook," by Norene Gilletz

Per serving: 100 calories, 5 grams protein, 3 grams fat, 1 gram saturated fat, 15 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 71 milligrams cholesterol, 293 milligrams sodium

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Chocolate Delight

Serves 8 to 10

A marvelous, light, simple, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate confection. As it bakes, it will rise above the pan, then sink as it cools for the 5 to 10 minutes before de-molding.

9 tablespoons cocoa

1/4 cup water

8 tablespoons butter or pareve margarine, cut into pieces

3 large eggs, separated and at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons potato starch

optional: whipped topping and/or hot fudge or ice cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In the top of a double boiler, over gently simmering water, combine cocoa, water and butter. Stir and heat until cocoa and butter are melted. (This can be done in the microwave. Heat together for 1 minute, remove from microwave, stir to see if everything dissolves and blends. If not, heat for another 10 to 15 seconds and stir to mix well.) Pour into a large mixing bowl. With a mixer on medium speed, beat mixture for a minute and add egg yolks one at a time. Beat well after each addition.

Add vanilla and sugar and continue beating for another 3 minutes or until well mixed.

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