Passover Trimmings

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Annabel Cohen
Food Columnist

Side dishes are the supporting players to your delicious meal.

When it comes to side dishes, simple can be sensational. Especially when you consider that of all the holiday meals, Passover has the most courses, the most dishes, the most time spent at the table — and the longest clean up schedule of all.

In preparing uncomplicated, you’re practicing one of the fundamental rules of menu planning. If your meal is elaborate — which no doubt it is, with all the appetizers, fish, soup, entrees and compulsory sweet endings — the sides dishes should not be fussy. But basic doesn’t have to mean boring. Read on.

LAYERED POTATOES
If you’d like, stir 2 cups shredded cheese (Cheddar and Swiss are good options) into the sauce.

3½ pounds russet or Idaho potatoes, peeled
1½ cups finely chopped onions
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup matzah cake flour
3 cups milk or non-dairy milk
2 tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. white pepper
2 Tbsp. minced chives or scallions, garnish

Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush a bit of olive oil in an attractive 3- to 4-quart baking dish (about 9×13), as the potatoes will be served in this dish.

Fill a bowl with ice water. Set aside.

Slice potatoes into thin rounds — less than ¼ inch, if possible (use a mandolin, if you have one). Transfer the potatoes to the ice water as you go along.

Combine oil and matzah cake flour in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk until smooth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. If using cheese, stir the cheese into sauce now. Season with salt and pepper (add more salt if needed — the mixture should be slightly salty to give the potatoes flavor).

Drain the potatoes in a colander and layer them in a single layer in the baking dish. Sprinkle with half the onions. Pour a third of the sauce over the potatoes. Place a layer of potatoes over the onions and sprinkle with remaining onions. Pour more sauce over this layer. Layer potatoes over the onions and pour remaining sauce over the potatoes.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 1 hour. Uncover and bake another 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving hot, sprinkled with chives. Makes 8 or more servings.

SPINACH AND RED PEPPER MATZAH

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup finely chopped shallots
1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
6 large eggs
1½ cups water, plus more if needed
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cups matzah meal
Salt and pepper to taste
Vegetable oil for frying

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are very soft and the onions are golden, about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, use your hands to squeeze as much water from the spinach as possible. Place the dried spinach in a large bowl. Add the onions and eggs and stir until combined. Add the lemon juice and matzah meal and stir until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper (better to use less salt and make a test latke and re-season to taste).

Add a thin layer of vegetable oil to the skillet and heat over medium-high heat until very hot (the oil must be hot or the latkes will soak up the oil and produce greasy results). Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the latke mixture into the oil and use the tip of the spoon to form it into a perfect circle. Repeat with as many latkes you can fit in your skillet without crowding. Cook until golden on the bottom side. Turn over cook the other side until golden.

Remove the latkes to a paper towel or paper bag lined baking sheet. Keep warm until ready to serve as an appetizer or side dish. Makes 8 or more servings.

ROASTED LEEKS, ZUCCHINI AND WALNUTS
¹∕³ cup walnuts
2-3 large leeks (about 1 lb.)
3 medium zucchini (about 1 lb.)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup (lightly packed) fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves with tender stems

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until lightly toasted. Transfer to a dish to cool.

Raise heat to 400°F. Combine the leeks and zucchini on the same rimmed baking sheet and toss well to coat the vegetables. Spread the vegetables in a single layer.

Cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the walnuts, garlic and lemon juice and toss well.

Serve warm or at room temperature, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste. Makes 6-8 servings.

TOMATO, FETA, ARUGULA FARFEL SALAD
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups matzah farfel
5 ounces baby arugula
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste

In a large skillet over medium-heat, saute matzah farfel until golden. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Just before serving, combine the farfel with remaining ingredients and toss well. Makes 8 servings.

SWEET CINNAMON MATZAH FARFEL KUGEL
4 cups matzah farfel
4 cups water
12 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp. salt
1½ cups sugar
2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
½ cup (1 stick) melted butter or margarine

Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush melted butter or margarine in a 3- to 4-quart baking dish or disposable aluminum pan (about 9×13).

Place farfel in a large bowl. Add water and soak until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain well. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and cook for 50-60 minutes until the kugel is set and golden. Allow to cool before cutting into square and servings. Makes 20 servings.

All recipes ©Annabel Cohen 2017
annabelonthemenu@gmail.com.

 

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