Passover Cooking Tips
Pesach foods generally require special Kosher-for-Passover certification. Regular kashrut certification is not sufficient for Pesach, and many foods that are perfectly kosher year-round are not kosher for Pesach. Look for a "P" (not the word "pareve"!) to the right of the hekhsher, like the one at top right, or the letters KFP (Kosher for Passover) or KP, or the words Kosher for Passover in English or Hebrew, seen at bottom right.
In areas with a significant Jewish population, grocery stores often gather Passover items together in a single aisle. Be aware that some supermarkets are very sloppy about what they shelve in their Passover aisles.
Suggested Meals and Foods
To help you reorient your thinking, here is a list of things that you CAN eat during Pesach with minimal substitutions:
* Good old-fashioned steak and potatoes
* Beef stew (without beans or barley if you normally use those; use potato starch for thickening)
* Pot roast (use potato starch for thickening)
* Meatballs or meatloaf (use matzah meal instead of rice or bread crumbs)
* Stuffed peppers (use matzah meal instead of rice or bread crumbs)
* Beef brisket (recipe below)
* Roasted chicken or turkey (gravy can be thickened with potato starch)
* Chicken with lemon wine sauce (use matzah meal for breading if desired)
* Eggs (fried, scrambled, poached, whatever)
* Hash brown potatoes
* Matzah brie
* Leftovers from the previous night's dinner
* Tuna salad or egg salad on a tomato
* Cold cuts on matzah or Atkins-style
* Salad Vegetables
Most people will eat any fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables from the grocery store, as long as the vegetable itself is kosher for Passover.*
* Peppers (e.g., bell peppers, chili peppers)
* Potatoes (regular and sweet)
* Squash (eggplant, zucchini, spaghetti squash, etc.)
* Sweet potatoes
* ... and many more too numerous to list!
* All fruits are Kosher for Passover!
As I said above, you should generally avoid substitutions and focus on foods that are naturally kosher for Pesach. That being said, there are a few simple substitutions that can give you more options for your Pesach cooking without compromising flavor.
Potato starch can be used instead of corn starch or flour to thicken sauces, stews or gravies.
Matzah meal is ground up matzah in pieces about the size of bread crumbs. It is an effective substitute for bread crumbs to make breading for things like fried chicken or eggplant parmesan. In fact, I use it that way year round. It is also an effective substitute for bread crumbs or rice in recipes where they are used to hold ground beef together, such as stuffed peppers, meatloaf or meatball recipes.
Matzah farfel is chunks of matzah about the size of a dime. It is a useful substitute for noodles, rice or pasta as a side dish. Serve your main course over matzah farfel and it will soak up the sauces nicely. It can also be used much like croutons on a salad, or can be used as the basis for a Kosher-for-Passover stuffing.
Perfect Matzah balls
2 eggs slightly beaten
2 tablespoons oil or chicken fat
2 tablespoons soup stock or water
1/2 cup matzah meal
1 teaspoon salt
Beat eggs slightly with fork. Add other ingredients, except matzah meal, and mix. Add matzah meal gradually until thick. Stir. Refrigerate for 20 minutes in covered bowl.
Wet hands and form into balls. Drop into bubbling chicken soup or into a large wide pot into which 1 quart water seasoned with 1 tablespoon salt has been added and has come to a boil. Cook for 30 minutes. Yields 4 balls per each 1/4 cup of matzah meal.
2 pounds carrots
1/2 pineapple, crushed
3/4 cup water sugar syrup (optional)
Peel and slice carrots. Cook in slightly salted water for about 20 minutes or until almost done. Crush pineapple in blender. Add to carrots. Cook another 15 minutes until soft. Add sugar syrup to taste.
Variation: Substitute sweet potatoes for pineapple and add more sugar.