Pesach, otherwise known as Passover, is the holiday when we clean out our homes until there is not one morsel of a breadcrumb. It is a time for us to reflect and humble our egos. It is also a great time to eat simple and healthy foods without compromising taste.
The first two nights are the traditional seder nights with a festive meal. The last two nights of the holiday are also festive meals. In between, the requirement is to not eat any hametz – anything leavened.
This year my family and I decided to spend the holidays away from home. While we were staying at a friend’s house in some ways it was like camping. We brought all the Passover staples that are hard to get outside of Brooklyn which caters to one of the worlds largest Jewish populations.
So while eating this time of year can be challenge – especially for us dairy free pescatarians – it is really an opportunity. The best of which is leaving all processed foods out of the picture, except for the matzah. Our shopping was targeted to the produce section of any supermarket or stopping at the few farmstands that were open this time of year. The real challenge was being creative with the limited ingredients available to us during this week.
We saved the fancy fish dishes for the festival days, so for the in between we went for some tasty vegetarian options.
Breakfasts were filled with a lot of fruits, omlettes loaded with vegetables and of course the classic Matzah Brei. We also made hot quinoa cereal filled with bananas, raisins and nuts. Lunches were generally ‘on the go’ picnics with matzah (gluten free for me), charoset, a sweet, dark-colored, paste made of fruits and nuts, almond butter and left overs.
The dinners were the real time to get creative. Two of my favorite veg meals were Spaghetti Squash al Pesto with a side of Collard greens and Fresh Rosemary Roasted Potatoes with a Sauteed Spinach Medley. I also enjoyed the seared tuna served with a citrus arugula salad, and topped with sauteed grated horseradish, the home made gefilte fish with not a grain of sugar, and the baked salmon seasoned with a cumin rub and served with a dill cashew cream.
Since not all spices are kosher for Passover, having basic seasonings such as sea salt, ground black pepper and white pepper, cumin, hot paprika, and oregano can turn anything into a delicious meal. Especially if you add fresh cilantro, rosemary, tarragon and basil.
While I used these few seasonings in almost every meal, it was the variations on the vegetables or fish that made the changes in the flavors. And the proof was my kids plates were empty and they asked for seconds.