Traditional food preparations for Passover

>>I’ve been starting to plan meals for Passover, in the hopes that better planning will mean we eat more than matzah spread with whatever.   I was wondering if you could post a bit of about creative passover meal ideas.  And also I was wondering what you know of sprouting, lacto-fermenting, etc during Passover.  What can be sprouted that isn’t kitniyos?  All I can think of is sunflower seeds, and perhaps quinoa could be sprouted.  We like fermented green beans best (dilly beans), but that is kitniyos.  I’m not sure what other options there would be, that we would like.  Can a person make kefir, or kombucha, or… for Passover?  Do you worry about soaking grains when you are eating matzah?  You can’t exactly soak matzah, right?
And also, I’ve been wondering, when you soak nuts and grains, if you don’t have a dehydrator, how do you get them back to normal?  Particularly, if you soak grains, can they be ground for flour in that state? <<

I haven’t yet planned my Passover menu (I’ll do it on Thursday next week, after I see what I get for a very good price that I want to integrate into my planning), and I don’t know if it will be very creative!  But I’ll be sure to post about it once I have it basically worked out.

I don’t think there’s much you can sprout for Passover, since it’s generally beans, seeds, and grains that are sprouted, and we don’t eat any of those!  I suppose you can try to sprout quinoa, but I’ll just do an overnight soak with an acidic medium in a warm location.  Nuts can be soaked and dehydrated, but I’m not planning to bother with that for the week of Passover- I generally use my dehdrator for that; the times I tried to use my oven to dry nuts that had been soaked and grains that had been sprouted, it didn’t turn out well at all!  (My oven doesn’t go low enough and the result was slightly scorched.)  (In answer to your last question, grains that are sprouted are ground after being dried if you want to use them for flour.)

Lacto fermented vegetables are a cinch for Passover – just shred the vegetables (I make up combinations all the time – try napa or cabbage with onion, garlic, carrots and some curry powder – this is an easy one that always turns out well), add some sea salt and water, and let them sit on your counter until they’re ready.  (The salt I use throughout the year for table use is Real Salt, which is certified kosher for Passover – this would be a very good addition to fermented vegetables.)  The hardest part is that some vegetables like cabbage will take more time than a week to be ready to eat!  You can minimize the time needed to ferment cabbage by chopping it very finely. But most vegetables can be ready within 2 – 3 days.  Most hard and crunchy vegetables can be effectively fermented – have fun experimenting!

Last year I asked about using the kefir grains and was told that I shouldn’t use them on Pesach (Passover).  Realize that in virtually every situation that I’ve asked a question like this, the rabbi I approached had to rely on my detailed description to make his decision, since these kind of questions aren’t common.  So it’s possible that it being an unknown food was a contributing factor to the decision and it was cautionary rather than kefir grains being problematic in and of themselves.  I don’t know and it doesn’t matter to me – I was told not to use it for this one week a year so I don’t.  I don’t find it hard to enjoy raw milk without culturing it for a week, so not having kefir is no hardship for me!

If you do want cultured dairy, you can easily make yogurt by buying a kosher for Passover plain whole milk yogurt starter, then following the instructions I gave here.  I usually use a dehydrator but explained in the post that I just linked to how to use a cooler as the insulating box, with a heating pad/hot water bottle on top – since I don’t have a Passover dehydrator, that’s what I would do.

I don’t use kombucha, so I can’t share any tips with that – I tried to make it about three years ago and I think I killed my scoby.  😆 Maybe it wasn’t dead but it was so unappetizing looking that I threw it away.

Because of the high phytic acid content, I’ll be minimizing the use of matza, but matza meal can be soaked overnight in an acidic medium if you use it for cakes, muffins, or pancakes. You can use shredded coconut and nut flours in place of flours for baked goods – I have a number of recipes in my ‘recipe’ category that will be appropriate for Passover use, even if I didn’t label them as such.

Tonight I’ll be preparing beef liver for the first time (will share more about that another time), and bought a new grill to kasher it on so whatever we prepare will be able to be used for Passover.  That will be a nice traditional addition to our Pesach menu, I hope!

Someone once commented that her Jewish mother-in-law gave her a Jewish cookbook and the entire book was filled with healthy recipes that work well for a gluten-free diet.  I was wondering what in the world she could be talking about, and realized that she must have been given an older cookbook with Passover recipes!  Once you get past the modern day food imitations that supermarkets are filled with that are marketed especially for this time of year, you realize that this really is an easy time of year to eat well, easier than during the rest of the year when grains and beans may be a staple of your diet.

Stick with traditional fats- extra virgin olive oil, rendered chicken fat (shmaltz), butter, and extra virgin coconut oil.  Then add lots of fruits, vegetables, eggs, fish, meat and chicken, along with quinoa, potatoes, and sweet potatoes for the starch, some nuts, coconut, and dried fruits for dessert – there’s hardly anything to miss eating.  And all of it is healthy, simple, and delicious!


18 thoughts on “Traditional food preparations for Passover

    1. As you might have noticed by now, I’m pretty comfortable throwing things together and seeing how they turn out, so I don’t have a formula to share! I’d suggest looking at recipes that specifically call for nut flours so you get the right proportions.

      1. Usually I don’t mind throwing things together. I frequently change proportions (ie less sugar) and ingredients (ie whole wheat/spelt for white flour). I’m just afraid pesach cakes will be less forgiving.

  1. i just read in the star-k pesach book that even though nuts are fine for pesach with no extra certification, pecans are not okay- do you or any of your readers have any idea why pecans would need the extra stringincy???

    1. It is said that pecans (I think it is midget pecans, not the regular ones) are sometimes soaked in a grain alcohol to get rid of bugs and one does not know the origin of the alcohol..

      Hi Julie — see you (even if not for a meal) over the last days of Pesach?

  2. This might give Sara a starting point. This is our favorite holiday cake. I don’t know where to get KLP vanilla and any liquor works. You could leave it out and not really notice since the spices and honey sauce provide plenty of flavor.

    Recipe adapted from Sephardic Holiday Cooking by Gilda Angel (my holiday cooking bible).

    Cake batter:

    6 eggs separated
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 Tablespoon liquor (the author uses Whiskey, I’ve used Hazelnut liquor or Almond liquor. Whatever is in our home-which isn’t much-should work)
    1 Tablespoon water
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    dash of ground cloves
    1.5 teaspoons baking soda
    2 cups ground walnuts (I imagine almonds would work too)
    grated rind of orange and lemon

    Syrup: (Heat in microwave or boil over stove)
    3/4 cup honey
    1 teaspoon lemon juice
    1/4 cup water

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    Beat egg yolks until think and lemon colored. Add sugar and beat until smooth.
    Stir in vanilla, liquor, water, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, ground nuts, and grated rinds.
    Beat separated eggs whites until they are stiff. Fold together batter and egg whites.
    Pour into a greased baking pan. I used a circle baking pan because it gives a nice presentation.
    Bake 30 minutes more or less.

    Poke holes in cake with a fork. Drown cake in syrup.

  3. Orthonomics, your cake sounds amazing! I will have to try it sometime. And I’m going to look for that cookbook in my library system.

    I’ll type up a couple from my Chabad cookbook tomorrow. Everything is non-gebruks and there are a lot of cakes/brownies. But they are heavy on the sugar. Never tried them with sucanat, but it’s worth experimenting if you have the time and ingredients to spare.

  4. My kids look forward to this dessert every Rosh Hashana. This is a Sephardic version of honey cake, obviously heavy on the honey. There are other versions for Pesach which look just like this and you can use either walnuts or almonds.

  5. Hi, My Rabbi also told me that Kefir probably wasn’t OK for pesach. I think he heard the word “yeast” and that was it. But then we got a bottle of passover wine as a gift for the seders and it said “wild yeast fermentation” on it. I right away looked for the passover marking and sure enough it was kosher for passover. So, I’m rethinking the kefir issue. It’s not that I can’t do without it for a week, I also enjoy my homemade yogurt, but I don’t want it to become minhag and there might be a time when I need it. I’m finding that I really can’t tolerate matzah for the first time this year. It’s killing my stomach. I never had a problem before. I must be getting old, or my body got used to my always soaking everything.
    Anyway, good shabbos and I hope you’re feeling better.

    1. Hi, Tami, welcome! This Pesach none of us have eaten much matza; I haven’t found it hard at all to just avoid it, even though in the past many dishes used it, and the kids had matza brei and matza with spreads every single day. If matza is difficult for you to eat, speak to your rav. My dh has been doing the GAPS diet for over six weeks and our rav told him he had to use 1/6 of a hand matza for his matza measurements at the seder, and he doesn’t have to wash at all at any yom tov meal because of his health concerns. In the same light, if you had a health need for kefir, a rav would take that into account. Not using it now doesn’t have anything to do with if you can have it at a later time.

      Don’t forget that you can make lactofermented vegetables on Pesach and enjoy getting your probiotic charge like that!

      1. Coming at tis two years on, but are you guys aware there is oat matzah – shmurah as well. Obviously oats are not okay for GAPS, but it’s better than wheat matzah.

        Thanks for the kefir discussion. This is what I was trying to figure out – whether it was okay for pesach or not. Still no determinate answer but more of a framework now.

      2. Hi, I realize this is two years late, but they do have all oat matzah now. It is pretty pricey, but it’s better for GAPS than wheat matzah. That’s what I’m using. Used it last year as well.

        Thanks for the discussion on kefir. I use water kefir and was wondering about this — and still don’t have an answer given the givens about wine fermentation for pesach use. Maybe I’ll make some lacto fermented veggies for pesach, heh.

        I wonder about s. boulardii. It’s a yeast, but an atypical one. And also for health.

  6. This is an old posting, but, here’s hoping…I was wondering about this kind of thing. We’re new to keeping kosher and newer still to nourishing traditions, but I’ve been canning in one way or another most my life. My husband and I have no idea what to do with my canned goods come Pesach. I just gave away my last six jars of our favorite, canned peaches, but it sounds to me like you keep some stuff through the holiday. Do you make it all KLP? If so, do you keep your canner KLP, which brings up the question of if you kasher your stove before any canning? Just would like to know how you work it…when you have a chance!

    Hag sameach

    1. Hi, Cory, welcome! How exciting that you started keeping kosher – it’s a big undertaking but a much bigger spiritual merit!

      It’s right before Pesach so I can’t answer this at length right now, but please don’t give away all your canned goods. You wouldn’t use them as is during Pesach, but they don’t need be given away. For now, just pack them away for Pesach. I’ll try to answer your question at more length in a couple of days.

      Chag sameach!

  7. Chag sameach! Loved this post– thank you! Was trying to figure out the Kombucha picture for Pesach here, too. All I can find is that you have to “check the label” Um… yeah. No label here LOL! Good to meet you, Avivah!

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