watermelon peach and mint gaspacho from a list of Passover recipes
Photography by Bill Milne; Copyright owned by Sterling Publishing under a work-for-hire contract;

Cookbook author Paula Shoyer shows us the way.

The book The Health Jewish KitchenIf there were a crown offered for Passover Cooking Queen, Paula Shoyer would surely reign. Passover is the biggest Jewish holiday for entertaining, but it is also limited by stringent food restrictions. Like Moses in Egypt, Shoyer has let the Passover-food oppressed free.

The author of three bestselling cookbooks on eating kosher and healthy devoted her last book — The New Passover Menu — solely to Passover, and to date, has published more than 100 kosher-for-Passover dessert recipes. Not only inventive and delicious, her Passover recipes cut all the fat, salt, sugar and processed heavy foods usually associated with this holiday.

Shoyer, a former attorney, graduate of the Ritz Escoffier pastry program in Paris and teacher of French and Jewish baking in the Washington, D.C., area, has filled her newest book, The Healthy Jewish Kitchen: Fresh, Contemporary Recipes for Every Occasion (Sterling Epicure), with more than 80 recipes, including both Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jewish classics as well as trends from America and around the world. It’s Jewish soul food made healthy — and, of course, it includes a satisfying section on Passover. Mango Coleslaw, Brisket Bourguignon, Indian Barbecued Chicken, Eggplant with Capers and Mint and Chocolate Quinoa Cake are just a few of the mouthwatering options for Passover. 

Read on for a few of Shoyer’s Passover favorites, excerpted from The Healthy Jewish Kitchen.

Learn more about how to get holiday ready for Passover. 


Parve, Gluten-free, Passover

  • Serves 10

This refreshing summer soup is best served with a watermelon, scallion and avocado garnish, so don’t skimp on that. For adult guests, I sometimes add a few teaspoons of ice-cold vodka or tequila to the soup.

PREP TIME: 8 minutes; 4 hours to chill • ADVANCE PREP: May be made 2 days in advance

   8 cups watermelon, cubed and divided

   2 large ripe yellow peaches, unpeeled, pitted and cut into 1½-inch cubes, about 4 cups

   1 English cucumber, unpeeled, and cut into chunks

   ¹⁄³ cup fresh mint leaves

   ¹⁄³ cup chopped red onions

   1 Tbsp. chopped fresh ginger

   Juice of ½ lime

   1 Tbsp. honey

   ½ tsp. black pepper

   3 scallions, ends trimmed, sliced, for garnish (optional)

   1 ripe avocado, cubed, for garnish (optional)

Separate 1 heaping cup of cubed watermelon from the 8 cups total and chop it into ¼-inch cubes. Set them aside in a small bowl and chill until ready to serve.

In batches, place the peaches, cucumbers, remaining 7 cups watermelon, mint leaves, red onions and ginger into a blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl or container. Add the lime juice, honey and pepper and stir. Chill the gazpacho for 4 hours or overnight. Garnish with the reserved cup of watermelon cubes, scallions and avocados. You could also add sliced peaches, small-cubed cucumbers and diced red onion in whatever combination you prefer.

See Faces & Places At The Matzah Factory.


salmon and avocado tartareParve, Gluten-free, Fish, Passover • Serves 8 (¹⁄³ cup servings)

Tartare is the French version of poke, ceviche and sashimi. I was working on a gefilte fish recipe when I got a call from my friend Chana Kaplan, who runs Friendship Circle at Chabad in Potomac, Md. I told her that I was agonizing over a gefilte fish recipe idea that just wasn’t panning out. When Chana said that there were enough gefilte fish recipes out there in the world, I mentioned an idea for salmon tartare as a lighter alternative. Chana convinced me to abandon my plan to include a gefilte fish recipe in this book. This tartare is infinitely easier to prepare and can be doubled and tripled for a crowd.

PREP TIME: 10 minutes • ADVANCE PREP: Must be made and served on the same day.

   1 pound of the freshest salmon or sashimi you can buy

   3 scallions, ends trimmed, sliced

   1 radish, finely chopped

   Zest of ½ lime

   1 tsp. lime juice, from zested lime

   1 Tbsp. avocado oil

   1 ripe avocado, cut into ½-inch cubes

   1 basil leaf, cut into ribbons, about 1 Tbsp.

   1 or 2 Tbsp. micro greens, for garnish (optional)

Slice the salmon into ½-inch cubes. Place them in a large bowl. Add the scallions, radishes and lime zest and mix. Cover the mixture and refrigerate until just before serving.

When you’re ready to serve the tartare, add the lime juice, avocado oil, avocado cubes and basil and mix well. Garnish with a sprinkle of micro greens, if you like.

See how some people will be celebrating Passover Detroit style.


Parve, Gluten-free, Vegetarian, Passover (use quinoa flour or potato starch) • Serves 4 to 6 (makes 12 meatballs)

red quinoa meatballsThis recipe is one of my favorites in this book. I learned from recipe testers Howard and Trudy Jacobson that it is even low in Weight Watchers points. These meatballs won over friends who don’t even like quinoa. You really feel like you are eating classic spaghetti and meatballs, one of my favorite dishes that my mother made often. You can even sprinkle cheese on top of these “meat” balls. You can also prepare the spaghetti squash and sauce as a side dish with another main.

PREP TIME: 15 minutes; Chill firmed meatballs for 1 hour • COOK TIME: Squash cooks for 45 to 50 minutes; quinoa cooks for 15 minutes; sauce cooks for 25 minutes; meatballs cook for 35 to 40 minutes • ADVANCE PREP: Any components may be made 2 days in advance.

Spaghetti Squash

   1 large spaghetti squash, sliced in half the long way, seeded

   1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Quinoa Meatballs

   ¾ cup red quinoa

   1½ cups water

   2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

   1 onion, finely chopped

   3 cloves garlic, crushed

   ½ tsp. dried basil

   ½ tsp. dried oregano

   2 large eggs

   2 Tbsp. quinoa flour (or chickpea flour or potato starch)

   4 tsp. finely chopped fresh Italian parsley

   ¹⁄8 tsp. salt

   ¼ tsp. black pepper

Tomato Sauce:

   2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

   1 medium onion, chopped

   8 cloves garlic, chopped

   ¼ tsp. dried basil

   ¼ tsp. dried oregano

   ¼ tsp. salt or more to taste

   ¼ tsp. black pepper

   Pinch sugar

   1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

½ cup water

To make the spaghetti squash, preheat the oven to 375°F. Drizzle squash halves with oil and place the cut-side down on a jelly roll pan. Bake the squash for 45 to 50 minutes, or until it is fork-tender. Let cool. Use a fork to scrape the squash into a large bowl. Set aside until you’re ready to serve.

To make the meatballs, place the quinoa and water in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over high heat. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until all of the water has been absorbed. Let the quinoa cool 15 minutes.

While the quinoa is cooking, heat 2 Tbsp. of oil in a medium frying pan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until soft and starting to brown. Add the garlic and the remaining tsp. of oil to the pan and cook for another 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool for 10 minutes.

Add the cooled quinoa to the bowl with the onions and garlic. Add the basil, oregano, eggs, quinoa flour, and parsley and mix well. Add salt and pepper and mix well.

Pour some water into a small bowl. Dip your hands in the water and then scoop up about 3 Tbsp. of the quinoa mixture and shape into a ball. Press the ball tightly and put it on a plate. Wet your hands before shaping each meatball. Chill the meatballs in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

To make the sauce, heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the basil, oregano, salt, pepper and sugar and stir. Add the tomatoes and water and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce, covered, for 25 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put 2 Tbsp. of olive oil onto a jelly roll pan and heat in the oven for 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully place the meatballs on the hot pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until firm.

To serve, reheat the squash and sauce. Using tongs, place some squash on a plate, ladle some sauce over it, then add the meatballs and more sauce, if desired.

Get advice from Passover seder veterans.

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