More recipes for Passover

Monday at sundown marks the beginning of Passover. Here are several tested recipes for the holiday, including some from the new "The Best of the Best, and More," compiled by the Sisterhood of Rodef Shalom Congregation. 

Vegetable Kugel

Much lighter and fresher than most kugels. Make it a day or so ahead, if it helps with the planning, and reheat to serve. We've even enjoyed it cold. The horses didn't mind that I used some of their carrots, at least they didn't say.

-- Miriam Rubin

3 matzos, broken into small pieces

Boiling water

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion, coarsely chopped

1 cup chopped tender celery stalks with some leaves

Kosher salt

1 1/2 cups grated carrots

1 1/2 cups grated zucchini

1 cup frozen cut (not chopped) leaf spinach (sold in bags)

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

4 large eggs

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.

Put matzos in colander and pour boiling water over. Let cool slightly, then press down to remove excess moisture.

In large, heavy skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and celery and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until tender and starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Stir in carrots, and cook, stirring often, 3 to 4 minutes, until nearly tender. Stir in zucchini, spinach, 1½ teaspoons salt, the pepper and thyme. Cook, stirring often, until tender 3 to 4 more minutes.

Beat eggs in large bowl. Add soaked matzos, parsley and vegetable mixture, and stir to mix well. Transfer to prepared pie plate.

Bake, uncovered, until firm, browned and puffed, about 30 minutes. Cool briefly before cutting into wedges and serving.

Makes 6 servings.

-- Miriam Rubin

Butternut Squash Salad with Sugar 'n' Spice Nuts

Serve this while the rest of the meal is being readied (sliced, plated, heated). To save time, buy pre-cut butternut squash. Roast the squash and toast the nuts earlier in the day or even a day ahead. My head of romaine was pretty small so I added some mixed greens, which you might want to also do if you're serving more than six, depending of course on the rest of the meal.

-- Miriam Rubin

1 butternut squash, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (I used 4 cups precut)

2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon coarse black pepper

1 head romaine lettuce, cut crosswise, plus other salad greens, if needed

1 green apple, diced

Sugar 'n' Spice Nuts (recipe follows)

Sugar 'n' Spice Nuts

1/2 cup sliced almonds (I used slivered)

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon olive oil

Shallot Dressing (recipe follows)

Shallot Dressing

1 to 2 shallots, peeled, cut into chunks

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more, if desired

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put butternut squash on rimmed baking sheet and toss with oil, sugar, salt and pepper. Spread in single layer. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, turning once or twice, until tender. Let cool.

For nuts: Turn oven to 300 degrees. Line small baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Spread almonds on lined baking sheet and toss with sugar, cinnamon, salt and paprika. Drizzle oil over.

Bake, watching closely, 10 to 14 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cool.

For dressing: In food processor, combine shallots, oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Process until shallots are minced. Adjust lemon juice and seasoning to taste.

To serve: In large salad bowl, combine lettuce, butternut squash and green apple. Toss with shallot dressing, and taste, adding more lemon juice or salt. Sprinkle with nuts and serve.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

-- Adapted from: "Passover Made Easy: Favorite Triple-Tested Recipes" by Leah Schapira & Victoria Dwek (Mesorah Publications, 2013)

Onion-Crusted Light Potato Kugel

Writes Jayne Cohen: "Some people tear off long ribbons of crisp skin from freshly roasted birds. Others will pick off the nuts or steal the chocolate curls from picture-perfect cakes.

This kugel is made for the onion snatchers: a lavish, meltingly tender layer of sweet bronze-edged onions, aromatic with rosemary, beckons from atop the crisp crust. I add mashed potatoes to the grated raw ones for an especially light and creamy interior."

I won't kid you, this is a project, but you can make it a day ahead and reheat it to serve. It's absolutely scrumptious and I'm so pleased to include this recipe in my story. For the onion snatchers.

-- Miriam Rubin

1 1/2 pounds onions, halved and very thinly sliced (6 cups)

Kosher salt

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon minced garlic (optional)

Freshly ground black pepper

6 large or 8 medium russet (baking) potatoes, peeled

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder (omit if making for Passover)

1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Best-quality extra-virgin oil, for drizzling

Separate the onion into (half) rings. To extract moisture, toss in a large bowl with 2 teaspoons salt and set aside about 20 minutes. Stir them around from time to time. Dry onions between sheets of paper towels or cotton kitchen towels, pressing down to soak up as much liquid as you can.

In 10- to 12-inch heavy skillet, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic (if using), and cook, lifting and tossing as they soften and turn golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, reducing heat if necessary (I needed another tablespoon oil). Onions should be well salted and peppery, so season accordingly. Let cool.

Dice 2 (if large) or 3 (if medium) potatoes; place in saucepan of salted water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender. Drain and mash potatoes, using a ricer, food mill, or masher, until smooth. Transfer to very large bowl. Stir in about half of the fried onions, setting the rest aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Set out a 13-by-9-inch enameled cast-iron or metal baking or roasting pan; do not use glass.

Grate remaining potatoes using a medium shredding disk in a food processor or over the large holes of a hand grater. Rinse grated potatoes in a colander under cold water to remove most of the starch. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Add grated potatoes to mashed ones. Beat eggs in another bowl until thick and light. Whisk in baking powder, if using. Combine eggs with potatoes and season generously with salt and pepper.

Pour remaining 3 tablespoons oil into baking pan; rub oil around the bottom and sides of pan. Place in oven until sizzling hot. Transfer potatoes to hot pan and spread with spatula; top with remaining fried onions. Sprinkle with rosemary. Drizzle with extra-virgin oil. If you love salty crusts, sprinkle a bit more coarse salt and some pepper over the top.

Bake about 30 minutes on uppermost shelf of oven. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake 25 to 40 minutes longer, until kugel is firm, top is golden, and onions are crispy. Let the kugel stand until set. If necessary, reheat before serving.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

-- Adapted from "Jewish Holiday Cooking: A Food Lovers' Treasury of Classics and Improvisations" by Jayne Cohen (Houghton Mifflin, 2008)

Sweet Matzo Kugel

This not-too-sweet dairy dish makes enough for a crowd. You could cut the recipe in half and bake it in an 8-by-1 1/2-inch pan.

-- Miriam Rubin

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) butter or margarine

3 1/2 cups matzo farfel (I didn't have farfel, so I broke matzos into small pieces)

Boiling water

11 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature (yes, 11 ounces, an ounce more or less won't matter)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

6 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup sour cream

2 15-ounce cans sliced peaches in juice, drained

Brown sugar for sprinklings

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter or margarine in 13 x-by-9-inch glass baking dish in oven.

Put matzo farfel in colander and pour boiling water over it to soften. Cool slightly then press lightly to remove excess water.

Meanwhile, with electric mixer at medium-high speed, beat cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer at medium speed, beat in eggs, one at a time, beating until blended. Scrape bowl and beat in sour cream.

Tilt baking dish with butter to coat sides of it then carefully, pour rest of butter into cream cheese mixture. Add farfel and peaches and mix with a spoon until blended. Scrape into baking dish and sprinkle top with brown sugar.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes until firm and bubbly. Transfer to wire rack and serve warm or chilled. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Makes at least 12 servings.

-- Adapted from "The Best of the Best, and More," compiled by the Sisterhood of Rodef Shalom Congregation ($20,

Passover Apple Cake

Make this no more than one day ahead, to maintain the delicious, crisp top. I can never find Passover cake meal so I grind matzoh meal in a food processor and use that.

-- Miriam Rubin

2 cups granulated sugar (I used 1 1/2 cups)

1 cup vegetable oil

6 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups Passover cake meal

2 teaspoons potato starch

Pinch salt

4 to 5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, halved, cored and thinly sliced

For the topping

3/4 cup granulated sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used 1/2 cup walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish.

In large bowl, with whisk or electric mixer, beat sugar and oil until well blended. Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, until batter is creamy. Stir in cake meal, potato starch and salt. Fold in apples. Spoon half of batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of topping and smooth remaining batter over. Sprinkle with remaining topping and then the nuts.

Bake until browned, puffed and cake has shrunk from sides, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Makes 12 or more servings.

-- Adapted from "The Best of the Best, and More," compiled by the Sisterhood of Rodef Shalom Congregation ($20;

Incredible Passover Nutty Bars

These don't cut very well the day they're baked so let them cool, untouched. I used the foil to lift them out of the pan, peeled it off and cut them into little squares. They're just a little crumbly, deliciously so, and will keep well in an airtight container (away from husband's mitts) for about five days after cutting. Feel free to use a mixture of nuts.

-- Miriam Rubin

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup oil, plus extra for greasing pan

1 large egg

1 3/4 cups ground almonds without skins (buy pre-ground or grind in food processor with 1 tablespoon of the sugar)

3 tablespoons potato starch

3/4 cup whole almonds with skins, roughly chopped

2/3 cup chopped walnuts

3/4 cup dried apricots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush bottom and sides of 13-by-9-inch baking pan with oil. Line with parchment paper (I used foil), allowing for an overhang. Brush paper or foil with oil.

Beat together sugar, the 1/2 cup oil and egg in large bowl with whisk or electric mixer at medium speed until well mixed. Add ground almonds and potato starch and mix well. By hand, knead in remaining nuts and dried fruit until well distributed throughout dough.

Press into prepared pan as evenly as possible. Bake 30 minutes, until firm, and the top and edges begin to brown. Cool in pan on rack. Remove from pan using parchment or foil as a lifter, peel off parchment or foil and cut into pieces.

Store airtight or freeze for up to 2 months.

-- Adapted from "Estee Kafra's Cooking Inspired: Bringing Creativity and Passion Back into the Kitchen," by Estee Kafra (Feldheim, 2013)

Apple, Pear and Dried Apricot Compote

Fruit compote is a soothing and lighter end to what can be a heavy meal. It's also great spooned over plain spongecake. If you don't wish to use brown sugar, choose granulated. Make it a day or so ahead for best flavor, and so it can chill.

-- Miriam Rubin

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup water

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

2 large oranges, preferably Cara-Cara, scrubbed (juice 1 1/2 oranges; halve and thinly slice remainder)

1 cinnamon stick

4 whole allspice berries (optional)

1 medium lemon, scrubbed, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced, ends and seeds discarded

2 Braeburn, honeycrisp or Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 Bosc pear, not peeled, quartered, cored and cut into ½-inch-thick slices

1 cup dried Turkish apricots, quartered

1/3 cup golden raisins

Put wine, water, brown sugar, orange juice, cinnamon stick and allspice berries in large saucepan, stir well and bring to boil over high heat. Add sliced orange and lemon, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 5 minutes.

Add apples, pear, apricots and raisins; bring just to a low boil. Cover and simmer 12 to 15 minutes, until fruit is tender. Remove from heat and let cool in syrup. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

-- Miriam Rubin

Miriam Rubin: and on Twitter @mmmrubin.


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