The trick to staying, ahem, healthy during Passover is eating as many veggies and fruits as you normally do. If your festive meals are front loaded with more meat than you regularly eat, it’s easy to shift to dairy or vegetarian menus, especially those that allow veggies to shine.
These zucchini boats are matzah- free so expect the filling mixture to be creamy and luxuriant rather than firm. They are best eaten soon after they come out of the oven though they may be eaten warm or at room temperature.
And speaking of matzah- free, this dish is perfect for any non-Passover meal also. It would be super served on a brunch buffet or served alongside a vegetable soup (tomato soup would be great), a green salad, roasted asparagus or peppers.
4 medium zucchini, firm and unblemished
½ lb whole milk ricotta cheese
6 Tbsp Parmesan cheese (or other firm, sharp cheese of choice), shredded. Set aside 3 Tbsp for topping
1 Tbsp olive oil plus extra for drizzling
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
10 basil leaves, washed and patted dry, chopped. Reserve 2 Tb. for topping
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
4 Tbsp pine nuts (reserve half for topping)
Salt and ground pepper to taste
Canola oil non-stick cooking spray
Wash zucchini and leave whole and untrimmed.
Place zucchini in a large pot of boiling, salted water and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Do not overcook. They should be just barely tender to the fork.
Remove zucchini from water and place on dishtowel to cool. Pat dry.
Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise, trimming off the tip (I leave the round end but you chose).
With a melon baller, gently scrape out the flesh of each zucchini, leaving enough in the shell so that it can support the filling. Reserve scooped out flesh for another use or discard.
Pat each zucchini boat inside and out, with paper towels, to absorb as much moisture as possible.
Choose a large rectangular Pyrex pan that is large enough to hold all zucchini in one layer. Spray pan with canola oil. Place zucchini halves in pan with cavity side up. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, place ricotta, Parmesan, EVOO, eggs, lemon juice and chopped basil. Mix until combined and set aside.
In a small non-stick pan, toss pine nuts to brown. (Do not add oil to pan). Remove and add to cheese mixture.
In the same pan add a few drops of oil and sauté chopped garlic for 1-2 minutes. Do not brown. Add to cheese mixture. Season mixture with salt and pepper.
Using a teaspoon, carefully fill the zucchini boats with cheese mixture and top with reserved shredded cheese, basil leaves and pine nuts.
Bake at 350 degrees F on center rack, 20 minutes, until just golden.
Although I love tweaking traditional recipes, especially around Passover, (hello White Wine Braised Chicken or Manischewitz Ice Cream) there are some foods I never thought I’d touch. Such as my Bubbe’s matzo ball soup.
The rich homemade broth and with light and fluffy matzo balls and rounds of carrots, celery and my favorite parsnips. Its magically powers are unparalleled. Matzo ball soup has the ability to cure most ailments, bad days, and even my gentile friends request it all year long.
But Passover food can be heavy. Potato kugel, chopped liver, flourless chocolate cake. I love it all, but sometimes it just doesn’t love me! The lack of greens and abundance of browns is apparent. This green soup cures that. What’s greatabout it is that you can pretty much throw in any greens you have in your fridge: broccoli, kale, Swiss chard. Throw it in there! It’s vegetarian friendly, and can be made ahead of time. In fact. The flavors just intensify as the days go on. Make sure to store the matzah balls separately, unless you want green balls. Which isn’t totally a bad thing.
For matzah balls:
½ cup vegetable stock
1 cup matzah meal
¼ cup grated onion
2 Tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
4 Tbsp butter (can use margarine, but butter preferred)
1 medium white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium Russet potato (about 1 pound), washed peeled and small diced
½ bunch asparagus tops and stems, chopped
1 cup spinach, rough chopped
1 cup arugula
¼ bunch parsley, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
Juice from ½ lemon
1 tsp ground cumin
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
To make matzah balls, separate the egg whites from the egg yolks. In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, stock, matzah meal, onion, olive oil, salt and pepper. Do not over mix, this leads to dense balls. Then a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a hand or stand mixer until you have stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the matzah mixture until just combined. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.
When ready to make soup, heat a large pot of water to a simmer. Shape the matzah mixture into 12-15 1-inch balls. Place balls into water and simmer for 30 minutes or until matzah balls are cooked. Check doneness by cutting one ball in half. The color should be uniform all the way through.
In a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 7-8 minutes until onion is cooked though and translucent. If onion starts to brown, turn heat down. Then add garlic and cook for one more minute.
Then add the potatoes, asparagus, spinach, arugula, parsley and broth and turn heat back up to medium. Simmer covered for about 10-15 minutes until asparagus and potatoes are tender. Don’t overcook or your vegetables will turn pea green.
Turn off heat, and blend soup in a blender or with an immersion blender. Add additional broth if your soup is very thick.
Season with lemon juice, cumin, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with matzah balls.
Sometimes the simplest recipes are just the best. So often we try to complicate our lives and our cooking by thinking more is better, and simple can’t be good. But I have recently discovered the secret to the best, nondairy garlic bread to accompany a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs, and it’s simplicity may shock you. Ok, maybe I am being overly dramatic. It is just garlic bread after all.
Roasted garlic is one of my favorite flavors. I add whole garlic cloves to lots of my dishes – roast chicken, root vegetables and even challah. I love the slight sweetness of roasted garlic, plus it’s a cinch to prepare and it’s super healthy! Garlic has more vitamin c than even orange juice.
Recently I roasted a whole head of garlic, added it to a healthy amount of olive oil and smashed it into a baguette for the simplest, most delicious garlic bread. I didn’t miss the butter, or Parmesan that some garlic bread recipes call for. Ok, maybe I missed the butter a little.
I would serve this crispy bread alongside some traditional Italian meatballs or a cozy bowl of soup. You will see – sometimes delicious doesn’t need to be complicated at all.
one large French-style baguette
2 whole heads of garlic
salt and pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
fresh parsley (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place garlic on a baking sheet or in a oven-safe ramekin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in the oven for 35-40 ,minutes, until garlic is completely soft and golden but not crisp.
Allow garlic to cool. You can prepare this step a few hours or a day ahead of time.
Cut baguette in half. Squeeze cloves from bulb and smash with a fork. Add olive oil and continue smashing.
Spread half the garlic mixture on one side of the bread, and the other half of mixture on the other side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, until just crisp and golden. Remove from oven and top with fresh parsley if desired.
Nearly six years ago, my husband (who was then merely a newish boyfriend in my life) took me out for a lovely meal at a hip new restaurant in Washington, DC called Komi. The dinner was amazing, with course after course of Greek-inspired dishes. I couldn’t tell you exactly what we ate that night except for one absolute stand-out appetizer: mascarpone stuffed dates, which were warm out of the oven and served with a perfect sprinkling of thick, flaky sea salt. I was in love with the sweet, savory, creamy bite and went home to try and recreate it.
After several trials, I realized I must be doing something wrong because my mascarpone filling kept oozing out. Still delicious, but it wasn’t quite the recreation I was looking for. I filed the recipe away, and only years later when we went back for another meal at Komi did I try to master the dish once again.
The waiter serving us at our second amazing Komi dinner wasn’t too keen on giving up the secret of the non-oozing mascarpone, but after careful prodding from my husband, we learned that we needed to chill the stuffed dates before baking them to achieve the desired result of a warm date with creamy filling intact. I went home to test it out again, and eureka: it worked.
This dish is one of my favorite appetizers to serve for any kind of party, and great as a small bite with prosecco or other sparkling wine on New Year’s Eve. Or a random Wednesday.
- Make sure to buy the plumpest-looking medjool dates you can find.
- Don’t want to spend your time pitting the dates? Just buy them already pitted.
- You can use a regular Ziploc bag with an end snipped off to fill the dates BUT I recommend using a proper piping bag to get the filling all the way into the bottom of the date more easily.
36 pitted medjool dates (the plumper the better)
4 ounces mascarpone, left at room temperature
1/2 cup full fat Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp honey
pinch of salt
Mix mascarpone, Greek yogurt, honey and pinch of salt in a small bowl. Scoop out mixture and place in a piping or ziploc bag.
Squeeze small amount into each date. Repeat with remaining filling and dates.
Place on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or tin foil. Place in fridge until ready to serve.
Preheat oven to 375. While oven is warming up, place dates in freezer for 5-10 minutes.
Bake dates for around 4-6 minutes, until just warm but before filling begins to ooze.
Sprinkle with flaky sea salt such as maldon salt. Serve warm or room temperature.
Hanukkah would have to be my favorite time of year. I was born on the fifth night and I even got married on my birthday! No, I don’t usually get three presents, but I always felt lucky to be surrounded by so much mazal on my wedding day.
With so much to celebrate during the holiday I try to switch things up during all the frying. There’s only so many latkes and jelly donuts you can eat (ok, maybe not). Fried zucchini parmesan chips have become a family favorite, so this year, I decided to go sweet with a different type of fried veggie: delicata squash.
Delicata squash is such an easy squash to prepare because the peel is edible, so you can just slice and bake – or fry! To take the squash flavor a step further, I decided to make a pumpkin beer batter and I finish it off with a Greek yogurt dipping sauce, to honor the Hanukkah miracle, and the tradition of eating dairy during the holiday. I love how they look just like donuts, but you get to without quite as much guilt because, after all, you’re really getting in a serving of veggies.
1 delicata squash, seeds removed, thinly sliced into rings
1 cup flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
pinch of salt
1 12oz bottle of pumpkin beer
canola oil, for frying
For the cinnamon-scented powdered sugar:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
For the Greek yogurt dipping sauce:
1 6 oz container plain Greek-style yogurt
1 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp brown sugar
Add the flour, cornstarch, sugar, spices and salt to a bowl and whisk to combine. Pour in the beer and stir until a thick batter forms. It should be a little thicker than pancake batter. You'll need most of the bottle of beer (with about 1/2 cup left over).
Heat a few inches of oil in a saucepan to 350 degrees.
Dip the squash in the beer batter and place in the hot oil. Fry a few at a time until golden brown on one side, and then flip over to brown the other side.
Remove with a slotted spoon or spider and drain on paper towels.
To make the cinnamon-scented powdered sugar: Place the cinnamon and powdered sugar in a bowl and whisk until the cinnamon is completely incorporated.
To make the Greek yogurt dipping sauce: Add all the ingredients to a bowl and stir to combine.
Dust with cinnamon-scented powdered sugar and serve immediately or remove to a rack, to keep crisp and reserve for later. Serve with greek yogurt dipping sauce.
Oh, how I love pasta. Almost all of my favorite comfort foods involve pasta: egg noodles with cottage cheese (a childhood favorite); any kind of gnocchi smothered in just about any kind of sauce; and my pregnancy comfort food, spaghetti with butter and Parmesan.
For Thanksgiving though I really wanted to create (and eat) an orzo side dish. Orzo somehow seems like a compromise of carb: it looks like rice, but it’s actually pasta. And to make it a little healthier than just some plain old pasta, I added some hearty wheatberries, an array of colorful vegetables and even some vitamin-rich pumpkin seeds into the mix.
The result is a scrumptious and satisfying side dish that can also serve as an entree for any vegetarian guests. Want to add some more protein into the mix? Add 1/2 cup cooked lentils or small white beans and you have a complete dish.
If you can’t find purple carrots at your local market, you can use a roasted beet instead to achieve the same color and texture. I also love this dish because you can prepare it a day ahead and either serve room temperature, or heat it back up to serve.
1 cup dry orzo pasta
1/2 cup wheatberries
1/2 medium butternut squash
2 purple carrots or 1 large beet
1/4 cup cooked peas (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup homemade or store-bought pepitas (you can also use slivered almonds or sunflower seeds)
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Peel butternut squash and carrots. Dice each into 1/2 inch cubes. Place butternut squash and carrots, separately, on a baking sheet, drizzle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15-20 minutes, tossing once, until carmelized.
Note: if replacing the carrot with beet, wash the beet gently and place in tin foil. Roast in oven at 400 degrees for around 45 minutes or until soft. Allow to cool and remove skin. Once beet has cooled, dice into 1/2 inch cubes.
While vegetables are roasting, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook orzo around 11 minutes and drain. Drizzle with olive oil and place in a large bowl.
Cook wheatberries according to directions on package. (For 1/2 cup wheatberries, you will need around 1 cup of water. Bring water to a boil and then simmer covered for around 15 minutes).
In the large bowl with orzo, add cooked butternut squash, carrots (or beets), peas, wheatberries, cranberries, pepitas and another 1 Tbsp olive oil. Mix thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve room temperature or warm.
This Thanksgiving, I’m adding an array of chutneys to my holiday spread as a way to jazz up the traditional meal with simmered combinations of fruits or veggies. Chutneys are the perfect accompaniment to long roasted, rich turkey or braised meats because their vinegary bases help to balance the fat of heavier proteins and side dishes.
This selection of chutneys cover a range of flavors to please any palate. With that in mind, I simmered one sweet, one savory and one spicy condiment. They make use of seasonal ingredients and readily available herbs and spices. Best of all, they come together in one pot and with little fuss. And each of these combinations will be tastier and more nuanced when prepared in advance.
Sweet Cranberry and Cherry Chutney
This chutney hints at Thanksgiving tradition with ruby red cranberries, nuts and dried fruit. It is believed that cranberries were served at the first Thanksgiving in 1621.
Serve this Cranberry and Cherry Chutney alongside roasted meat, turkey or chicken. Add a few tablespoons to mayonnaise and use as a spread on lightly toasted challah for turkey sandwiches with leftovers from your feast. Or place this chutney in a small serving dish alongside creamy, mild cheeses as a sweet element on a cheese plate.
Note: This chutney has a very strong vinegar odor when it’s simmering. The first time I made this, I was alarmed by the strength of the vinegary presence. After it’s cooked, cooled and refrigerated, the vinegar- sugar- honey combination settles into a perfectly balanced, slightly sweet condiment for your holiday meal.
2 cups dried tart cherries
½ cup sugar
3 Tbsp honey
½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup fresh cranberries (rinsed)
1 Tbsp lemon zest
½ cup finely chopped celery
1 cup raisins or currants
1 cup toasted chopped walnuts
6 Tbsp water (or a little more if the pan appears too dry)
Combine all ingredients in a 2 quart. saucepan over medium heat. Cook 20-25 minutes, stirring well.
Cranberries should burst open. The texture should be slightly sticky and chunky, with little liquid remaining after the simmer. Chutney will continue to thicken as it cools.
Cover and refrigerate for up to one week. Serve at room temperature.
Savory Cauliflower and Lentil Chutney
This vegetable and legume based chutney doesn’t include any added sweetness, making it a welcome savory addition to a holiday meal that tends to include lots of sweet flavors. It’s warm spices and toasted undertones provide unexpected flavors next to traditional dishes like sweet or mashed potatoes. This dish could easily be the star dish for vegetarians at your table.
Serve alongside turkey leftovers or as a condiment with pan-seared fish. If using this as a main dish for vegetarians at your Thanksgiving table, be sure to make stuffing without chicken or turkey broth so that they may enjoy stuffing with this savory chutney.
¼ cup good olive oil
1 large red onion, finely diced
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 tsp ras- el- hanout*
½ tsp mustard powder
1 cup dry red lentils
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups cauliflower florets, small pieces
1 ½ cups canned diced tomatoes
½ cup water
salt and pepper to taste
½ tsp paprika
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves- minced
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
*Middle Eastern spice mix found at well stocked markets like Whole Foods or at online on Amazon
Heat oil and add onion, shallot and ginger until softened, about 4-5 minutes.
Add ras-el-hanout and mustard powder and stir, cooking one minute.
Rinse and examine lentils for particles of debris. Remove if found. Add lentils and wine to onion and spice mixture. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Cover pot and cook 10 minutes.
Add cauliflower, tomatoes, water, salt and pepper and paprika.
Cover and cook over medium heat, covered, for 20-25 minutes until lentils and cauliflower are tender but not mushy. Stir occasionally. Add ¼- ½ cup more water if chutney appears dry.
Cool mixture and stir in lime juice and cilantro. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
May be refrigerated for up to one week in airtight container. Serve at room temperature.
¼ cup olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp coriander
⅛ tsp each, salt and pepper
½-1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and veins removed and finely chopped (do not touch eyes or mouth when handling this pepper)
½ tsp cinnamon
⅛ tsp cayenne
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsplight brown sugar
4 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
2 Tb. apple cider vinegar
2 Tb. dark raisins
1 Tb. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Tb. basil leaves, chopped
1 lime- juiced
Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.
Add the garlic, ginger, shallots, onion and cook until softened.
Add turmeric, cumin, coriander, jalapeno, salt and pepper, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Cook for 5 minutes.
Add the honey, brown sugar and raisins and cook for 2-3 minutes until caramelized.
Stir in fresh and canned tomatoes and vinegar. Simmer for 40-45 minutes in uncovered pot. Add a bit of water if mixture appears too dry. Texture should be jammy.
Remove from heat and stir in cilantro, basil and lime juice. Taste to season with additional cayenne, salt or pepper.
Cool and place in sealed glass container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Serve at room temperature.
I suggest serving this chutney alongside turkey or roasted chicken. It’s super as a spread on a brisket sandwich or serve alongside guacamole with toasted pita chips. Consider using this spicy tomato chutney swirled into a half cup of extra virgin olive oil as a sauce over your favorite pasta.
It’s autumn, and sure, we all love pumpkin. But there are also an array of other squash and seasonal veggies that are pretty exciting too, including the adorable acorn squash.
Growing up my dad would prepare acorn squash in a very simple way: cut in half and roasted with butter and maple syrup. Nothing bad about that.
But I have been searching for other ways to prepare the cute squash. Finally a few weeks ago I came across this recipe for Orzo and Cheese Baked in Acorn Squash and I thought: ok, I have to make this! Not only is it cheesy and easy, but making a stuffed dish during Sukkot was also Jewishly appropriate.
I didn’t have orzo, but I did have Israeli couscous, a favorite ingredient. I also wanted to get in a little extra vegetables in this dish, so I added some onion and pepper. Want to make this healthier? You could substitute whole wheat couscous, quinoa and even add some lentils.
2 small acorn squash, halved and seeded
¾ cup water
¾ cup uncooked Israeli couscous
¾ cup water
Salt and pepper
½ onion, diced
½ red bell pepper, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes
¼ cup milk
½ cup grated cheddar cheese
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice off a piece from each half of acorn squash so they will lie flat in the pan when baking later.
Place squash open side down in a baking pan. Add 3/4 cup water to pan. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and discard water. Turn squash open side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook another 15 minutes until tender.
Bring the ¾ cup of water to a boil. Add couscous and salt and pepper, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes.
In a large sauté pan add a few tbsp olive oil. Cook onions and pepper for 4 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and continue cooking until soft and translucent, another 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and add to a large bowl. Add cooked couscous, cheddar cheese, milk and 1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese. Mix thoroughly.
Remove squash from oven. Spoon couscous cheese filling into each squash. Top with additional Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley and a drizzle of olive oil. Bake until top begins to brown, around 25 minutes.
Next to pumpkin, apple cider might be one of my favorite flavors of fall. I like it hot and spicy, spiked with bourbon or just plain out of the container on a cool and sunny autumn day.
But I also love cooking with it. For the past few years I have been making a fall favorite apple cider beef stew which is perfect for Sunday supper or Shabbat dinner. But I am always looking for savory recipes to use this beloved ingredient.
This past week I came across this recipe for Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Carrots made with orange juice and herbs among other flavors. I thought, if you could roast root vegetables with orange juice, why not apple cider?
I tested it out, and it was a hit. This is a perfect side dish for any kind of dinner this time of year.
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 medium-large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds
1 small red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 whole garlic cloves
1/4 cup apple cider
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place your cut sweet potatoes, carrots, red onion and garlic cloves on a baking sheet and spread them in a single layer.
In a small bowl, whisk together apple cider, olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Drizzle mixture all over vegetables and toss to coat evenly.
Roast for 35-45 minutes, until vegetables are caramelized to your liking. Serve immediately.
When I was pregnant with my daughter I discovered the wonder of kale chips. I was craving leafy greens, and making kale chips was a fun way to satisfy my urge. I would roast up 2 or 3 bags of kale at a time, and then stand shoveling it into my happy, pregnant mouth.
Fast forward, and I haven’t lost my taste for kale chips. And much to my delight, they are one of my daughter’s favorite snacks.
I want to be honest about the kale chip making endeavor: it can actually be a bit complicated. And whenever I mention kale chips among friends and family members, they always ask “how do you make yours? Mine always turn out soggy/burnt…”
So here are my tips:
- Make sure you spread kale out in a single layer. If the leaves overlap, they won’t crisp and cook properly.
- Evenly coat the kale with olive oil. You can do this either by using a salad dressing mister, or simply massaging the kale before you bake it to make sure it is coated.
- Start the kale at a lower temperature, and then raise it only at the end to get a good crisp – but don’t let them burn.
- Watch the kale chips carefully at the end, and remove as they become done.
Love Jewish food? Sign up for our weekly Nosher recipe newsletter!
1 large head fresh kale
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
Break kale into even pieces and spread out in a single layer on lightly greased baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Using your hands, massage kale to ensure olive oil coats leaves as evenly as possibly.
Bake for 25 minutes and turn leaves over on baking sheet. Bake for another 5-7 minutes, watching carefully and removing pieces of kale as they look done.
Serve as a snack.