Some Delicious Answers to Passover’s Fifth Question: What Can I Eat?
Recipes for a matzah casserole with bitter greens and lemon-egg sauce, unstuffed baked cabbage with or without meat and strawberry chocolate pudding
Everyone know what Passover’s Four Questions are, but do you know what the Fifth Question is? It’s “What can I eat?” Folks seem to be able to figure out their seder menus but wonder what to feed themselves and their families during the rest of the holiday, when so many favorites are literally off the table.
After presentations on this topic to my synagogue, my Hadassah chapter, in Oakland Ruach, Oakland, CA, and other organizations and talking to friends and family, I’ve learned some of the non-Seder Passover food must-haves.
New Ways With Matzah – Many are looking for inspiration beyond eating this staple with butter or cream cheese or making matzah brie. Below is a recipe for Mina with Bitter Greens and Lemon-Egg Sauce, a Sephardic-inspired Passover layered-matzah casserole. My recipe is parve and vegetarian, stuffed with bitter greens tamed by Swiss chard and chopped fennel and napped in a sauce traditional for Greek Passover dishes. Use the mina as a side dish or add the sliced hard-boiled eggs and chopped olives to make it a vegetarian entrée.
Vegetable-Centric Dishes – There is lots of talk of wanting more fiber during the holiday to help compensate for all that matzah. Bonus points for recipes that can be made ahead and provide leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day.
My contribution is an Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole recipe. It packs a meat, vegetable and quinoa filling between layers of cabbage topped with a sweet and sour tomato sauce. There is also a vegan/parve variation.
A Passover Dessert That Is Rich and Creamy – For something sweet and luscious (but parve), try my Strawberry Chocolate Pudding recipe made with coconut milk and thickened with potato starch. It is gluten-free and vegan.
Mina With Bitter Greens and Lemon-Egg Sauce|
¼ cup olive oil, divided, plus extra for pan
2 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts
3 tbsp. finely chopped garlic, divided
3 tsp. paprika, divided
½ tsp. salt, divided
¼ tsp. ground black pepper, divided
1 tbsp. plus 2 tbsp. minced fresh fennel fronds (leaves) or parsley
1 tsp. plus 2 tbsp. minced grated lemon zest
2 cups chopped fennel bulb
8 cups chopped Swiss chard
4 cups chopped dandelion or other bitter greens (see note)
¼ tsp. sugar, or as needed
lemon-egg sauce (see recipe below)
½ cup warm vegetable stock or water
3 sheets plain matzah
Heat half the oil in a 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sauté onions and leeks until softened. Add 1 tbsp. garlic, sauté until golden. Stir in 1 tsp. paprika, half the salt and pepper, 1 tbsp. minced fennel fronds (or parsley) and 1 tsp. lemon zest. Add chopped fennel bulb; sauté until fennel is tender. Remove to large bowl. Do not wash the pan.
Add 2 tbsp. oil to pan, sauté 1 tsp. garlic until golden. Stir in 1 tsp. paprika and remaining salt and pepper. Add chard and dandelion greens. Sauté until wilted. Taste. If bitter, stir in sugar, adding more as needed. Combine greens with fennel. Taste. Adjust seasonings.
Make lemon-egg sauce (see below).
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Oil 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish. Place heated stock in rimmed dish large enough to fit matzah. Quickly dip both sides of one matzah so the sheet begins to soften. Place flat in baking dish. Top with half of the vegetables. Spoon a quarter of the lemon sauce over vegetables. Dip a second sheet of matzah in stock, place on top. Spread remaining vegetables on top, spoon another fourth of sauce on top. Dip remaining matzah. Place on top. Cover with another fourth of sauce, sprinkle with remaining paprika. Lightly cover with foil. Bake 25 minutes, remove foil and bake about 20 minutes until sauce is bubbly and top matzah is crisped. Serve hot, warm or room temperature. Just before serving, drizzle with remaining sauce (reheated if necessary) and sprinkle with remaining garlic, fennel fronds and lemon zest.
Lemon-Egg Sauce: Stir together until well combined (or process until smooth in blender) 4 large, beaten eggs; 1 tsp. lemon zest; 1½ cups fresh lemon juice; 2 tbsp. matzah cake meal; and ¼ tsp. salt. Place in pot and whisk in 2 cups room-temperature vegetable stock or water. Simmer over low to medium-low heat (do not boil), whisking almost constantly until reduced by half. Taste. Add salt if needed. Strain to remove any bits of cooked egg.
As a Main Course: Hard boil 6 large eggs. Once cool, thinly slice into rounds. Chop ½ cup pitted, drained olives (green, Kalamata or pimento-stuffed) into ¼-inch pieces. After the first batch of greens is spread on top of the matzah, arrange half the egg slices on top in a single layer. Top with egg lemon sauce as directed. Scatter half of the chopped olives on top of the sauce, then cover with a second matzah. Repeat. Continue as directed in recipe.
Unstuffed Cabbage Casserole
1 head of green cabbage
1 cup raw quinoa
1/4 cup oil, divided
1 cup chopped onions, divided
1 tbsp. minced garlic, divided
1 tbsp. minced seeded jalapeño, divided
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1 lb. ground beef
1 tsp. ground black pepper, divided
1 tsp. salt, divided
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
3 cups diced canned or fresh tomatoes, divided
4 cups vegetable broth, warm
1/4 cup chopped parsley or dill
3 cups plain tomato sauce
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Core cabbage. Detach enough leaves to generously cover the bottom of a medium baking dish (about 8 inches x 12 inches) three times, about 12 oz. total. Reserve remaining cabbage for another use.
Bring big pot of water to simmer. Add cabbage leaves. Simmer covered, 5-10 minutes until tender and pliable. Drain. Place quinoa in a bowl, cover with cold water and stir. Strain. Repeat. Grease medium baking dish with 1 tbsp. oil.
Heat 1 tbsp. oil in large fry pan over medium-high heat. Add half the onion, half the garlic and half the jalapeño. Sauté until softened. Add beef, sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Sauté until well browned, breaking up clumps. Remove to bowl. Discard fat in pan and wipe out.
Add remaining oil to pan over medium-high heat. Add remaining onions, remaining garlic, minced ginger, and remaining jalapeño. Sauté until softened. Add carrots. Sauté 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté 2 minutes. Stir in 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Stir in quinoa until coated in oil. Sauté 2 minutes. Stir in half the tomatoes. Add 1/2 cup broth, stirring often, until absorbed. Repeat with remaining broth until quinoa is cooked, about 20-25 minutes total. Stir in parsley and browned beef. Taste and add 1/4 tsp. of salt if needed.
In a small saucepan, combine tomato sauce, remaining salt, black pepper and chopped tomatoes with the sugar and grated ginger. Heat over medium-low, until the tomatoes have begun to soften. Remove from heat. Stir in the vinegar. Taste. The sauce should be pleasantly tart. Add sugar or vinegar as needed.
To Assemble: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on bottom of greased pan. Top with a single layer of cabbage leaves, overlapping and/or ripping them as needed to fit.
Spread half of the filling mixture on top of the cabbage layer. Top with 1/3 of the remaining sauce and a layer of cabbage. Repeat. Spread rest of sauce on top. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving, cutting into portions with a knife.
Vegan/Parve Version: Skip the beef and the 1 tbsp. oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper cooked with it. Sauté all the onion, garlic and jalapeño with minced ginger together in 3 tbsp. oil. Add 1 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped, when adding mushrooms.
Make Ahead: The casserole can be made ahead and refrigerated for several days or frozen. Bring to room temperature and reheat at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until hot (cover top with foil if needed).
Strawberry Chocolate Coconut Pudding
Makes 8 servings, about 1/2 cup each
2 cups medium-sized strawberries
2 cups canned coconut milk (not low fat)
2 tbsp. potato starch
6 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 cups semisweet or bittersweet parve chocolate chips
2-3 tbsp. unsweetened shredded coconut
Reserve four berries for garnish and puree the remainder (there should be about 1-3/4 cups of puree).
Stir coconut milk well, add to pot, being sure to scrape out any of the congealed “cream” on top. Heat on medium low until simmering and smooth. Carefully pour out a cup of the hot liquid into a small bowl and quickly whisk in the potato starch (for best results sieve, sift or break up any lumps before using) until smooth.
Slowly whisk the starch mixture back into the remainder of the simmering coconut milk until well blended and thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. It should be smooth without lumps. (See notes if it remains lumpy.) Once the mixture is smooth, whisk in the puree, sugar and lemon juice. Continue to whisk until well combined and smooth and the coconut milk and strawberry mixture has thickened and again coats the back of a spoon. Take off the heat, stir in chocolate chips until melted and smooth. Pour into serving dish(es).
Cover with plastic wrap and chill until set (usually about four hours). (Pudding will continue to thicken and can be made up to three days ahead.) Serve cold or at room temperature garnished with coconut shreds and thin slices of the reserved berries.
Notes: If the coconut milk/cornstarch mixture remains lumpy, use the back of a spoon to press the hot mixture through a fine strainer. Return to pot, bring back to a simmer and continue with the recipe.