July 16th, 2018

The Kosher Gourmet

A glorious Ashkenazi (Eastern European) and Sephardic (Middle Eastern) blend to make your Passover feast festive and unforgettable

Ethel G. Hofman

By Ethel G. Hofman

Published April 1, 2015

A glorious Ashkenazi (Eastern European) and Sephardic (Middle Eastern)  blend to make your Passover feast festive and unforgettable
Ready or not, Passover is almost here. On this Jewish festival of freedom, it's estimated that more than 80% of Jews attend a Passover Seder. It is a time when family and friends travel from far and wide to participate in the ancient customs. With the reading of the Haggadah, which tells the story of Passover, and special foods and songs, the Seder is the focal point of the Passover celebration.

Besides the reading of the Haggadah, food is the highlight of the multi-course Seder meal. In fact, the entire eight day celebration revolves around eating specific foods and the prohibition of leavened foods. All ingredients used during this time must be labeled Kosher for Passover. Supermarkets already have an enormous variety of these items available — but ingredients such as powdered sugar, noodles and some sauces and salad dressings disappear quickly. When you see them, buy them.

Though matzos take the place of bread during Passover, there's no need to include matzos in every dish or even at every meal. Recipes such as the traditional matzo brie, may be deliciously vegetable laden with just a token hint of crumbled matzo. And if you've sworn off eggs, use an egg substitute, spiking the dish with fresh herbs and seasonings.

Ashkenazi Seder dishes are traditionally heavy with matzos, matzo meal, eggs and dairy products. Sephardic dishes are light and lively emphasizing fresh fruits and vegetables, exotic spices and zesty seasonings. Sephardim may eat carefully checked rice or beans during Passover, as the original Sephardic diet depended mainly on these foods. However, the Sephardic recipes below do not contain kitniyos (legumes). By all means serve your favorite brisket and/or chicken dish but consider including a different recipe into Passover meals throughout the holiday. In our house, chicken soup is for Rosh Hashanah, Passover is gazpacho which has created a new and popular family Seder tradition.

Your Passover shopping list may include the following:

matzo meal
salad dressings
potato starch
matzo cake meal
vegetable oil

Chicken, brisket, salmon or whatever you decide for a main dish

dried fruits such as figs, apricots, dates
salad greens
ginger root
prepared horseradish and horseradish root
parsley and dill
assorted chopped nuts (not peanuts)



Makes about 2 1/2 cups

I always make two varieties; the traditional apple and nut and a Sephardic charoses such as this Moroccan recipe. All dried fruits should be soft. Any leftovers make a delicious spread.

  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • 8 pitted dates
  • 10 dried apricots, halved
  • 5 dried black figs
  • 1/4 cup cherry preserves
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon shredded mint leaves, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • About 1/4 cup sweet Passover wine

Place all ingredients except the wine in the food processor bowl. Process to chop finely. Add just enough wine to process into a coarse paste. Transfer to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate. Keeps up to a week, refrigerated.

Approx. nutrients per tablespoon: calories — 100 protein — 2g carbohydrates — 13g fat — 5g cholesterol — 0mg sodium — 2mg


Serves 8

Here's an unclassic version of this Spanish salad soup

  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut in chunks
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut in chunks
  • 1 (14 1/2 -ounce) can stewed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, packed
  • 2 tablespoons snipped chives
  • 3 cups low sodium tomato juice
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1 small ripe avocado
  • 1 1/2 cups finely shredded romaine lettuce

Drain the juices from chopped tomatoes. Place juices in processor bowl. Reserve the chopped tomatoes.

To the processor bowl, add the cucumber, bell pepper, undrained stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, basil and chives. Process until vegetables are finely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the tomato juice and reserved chopped tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill.

To serve: Peel the avocado, remove the pit and dice. Toss with remaining lemon juice. Add to the lettuce and mix gently. Ladle gazpacho into bowls. Top each bowl with the avocado mixture.

Approx. nutrients per serving: calories — 92 protein — 2g carbohydrates — 13g fat - 4g cholesterol — 0mg sodium — 285mg


Serves 8

    One of the most popular Ashkenazi holiday dishes. Canned sweet potatoes may be used but carrots should be pre-cooked before adding to mixture

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 (16-ounce) bag frozen carrot coins
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks
  • 8 pitted prunes
  • 1 cup dried apricots, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, sweet potatoes, prunes, apricots, cranberries, orange juice concentrate, water, honey, spices and seasonings. Stir to mix. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 45 minutes or until carrots and potatoes are tender. Stir occasionally. Add a little more water if needed. Remove cinnamon stick before serving. May be made ahead. To reheat, cover and heat through over low heat, stirring often.

Approx. nutrients per serving: calories — 309 protein — 4g carbohydrates — 69g fat — 4g cholesterol — 0mg sodium — 57mg


Serves 8

Jicama is a large, bulbous, thin-skinned root vegetable. Eaten raw, it adds a sweet, crunchiness to salads

  • 4 cups diced, peeled jicama
  • 3 cups diced, peeled mango
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1/2 serrano pepper, seeded

Gently toss the jicama, mango and raisins in a large bowl. Set aside.

In the blender, whirl the juices, oil and pepper until pepper is thoroughly blended. Pour over the jicama mixture. Serve chilled.

Approx. nutrients per serving: calories — 160 protein — 1g carbohydrates — 30g fat — 5g cholesterol — 0mg sodium — 8mg


Serves 8

  • 8 medium Portobello mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1 scallion, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup snipped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped pimento
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons virgin olive oil, divided
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375F. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick vegetable spray.

Rinse mushrooms quickly under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels.

Remove mushroom stems. Chop finely and place in a bowl. Add the almonds, scallions, parsley, pimento, garlic and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Stir to mix.

Place mushrooms on prepared baking sheet. Spoon stuffing into mushroom caps, dividing equally. Flatten down with the back of a spoon. Drizzle with remaining olive oil. Bake in preheated oven 15 minutes. Bake 5 minutes longer or until stuffing is golden brown. Serve hot or warm.

Note: stuffing may be prepared ahead and mushrooms stuffed just before cooking.

Approx. nutrients per serving: calories — 138 protein — 4g carbohydrates — 5g fat — 12g cholesterol — 0mg sodium — 4mg


Serves 8

Adapted from a recipe from Sephardic Cooking by Copeland Marks, published by Donald Fine Inc. 1992

  • 2 tablespoons potato starch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 pounds boneless veal, cut in 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 bunch (about 3 cups) flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 leek, trimmed and thinly sliced (white and green parts)
  • 2 ribs celery with leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 pounds small white mushrooms, halved
  • Mashed potatoes (optional)

In a shallow dish, mix the potato starch with salt and pepper. Add the veal and toss to coat. Set aside. Heat oil in a large, non-stick saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and turmeric. Saute 1-2 minutes. Add the veal. Saute until nicely browned. Add the parsley, leeks, celery and chicken stock. Stir. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook 1 hour or until veal is almost tender. Add the mushrooms. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Cook 10 minutes longer. Serve with mashed potatoes (optional).

Approx. nutrients per serving: calories — 314 protein- 23g carbohydrates — 5g fat — 22g cholesterol — 81mg sodium — 391mg


Serves 8-10

Packed with fruits and vegetables, this is a variation of my much requested recipe

  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen, chopped spinach, thawed
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored and cut in chunks
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cut in chunks
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup matzoh meal
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9-inch square baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Squeeze as much water as possible from spinach. Place in a large bowl. Set aside.

In the food processor, coarsely chop the apples and potatoes. Add to spinach. Add the carrots, raisins, matzoh meal, sugar, ginger root, salt, orange juice concentrate and about three-quarters of the melted margarine. Mix well. Spoon into the prepared baking dish. Drizzle remaining margarine over. Bake in preheated oven for 1 1/4 hours or until firm and nicely browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Approx. nutrients per serving: calories — 241 protein — 3g carbohydrates — 39g fat — 9g cholesterol — 0mg sodium — 370mg


Serves 8

  • 2 (15-ounce) cans tangerines
  • 1 pineapple, peeled, core removed and cut in 1-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon potato starch
  • 1 cup pineapple or apricot preserves
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup pistachio halves

Drain the tangerines, reserving juices.

Place tangerine sections and pineapple in a serving bowl. Set aside.

In a cup, blend the potato starch with 1/3 cup reserved tangerine juice. (Save remaining juices to add to breakfast drinks).

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the preserves, lemon juice, nutmeg and potato starch mixture. Bring to boil stirring constantly. Cool slightly before pouring over the pineapple and tangerines. Stir gently to mix. Scatter pistachios over. Serve at room temperature.

Approx. nutrients per serving: calories — 184 protein — 2g carbohydrates — 45g fat — 2g cholesterol — 0mg sodium — 25mg

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JWR contributor Ethel G. Hofman is the former president of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, whose members include the likes of Julia Child. She is the author, most recently, of "Everyday Cooking for the Jewish Home: More Than 350 Delectable Recipes". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)

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