Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Seder a la CSA

Happy Pesach! We were out of town this past weekend (eating fabulous food in the Bay Area) and we neglected to cook most of our CSA vegetables from last week. Luckily, it's Passover and we needed to make some vegetable dishes for our family Seder. We had tons of greens, as well as carrots, parsnips, turnips, fresh rosemary and cilantro. My mom emailed me a recipe for a Mexican-style matzoh ball soup, apparently not expecting me to actually make it (as she clarified when we showed up at the house with cilantro matzoh balls). We used the recipe for the matzoh balls which came out great (fluffy but not too light), but the recipe for the soup sounded like a disaster so I scrapped it and made my own (it called for 1/2 cup of lime juice AND a whole cup of white vinegar-- sour!). I think this matzoh ball soup may be here to stay, there were lots of murmurs that it was an improvement over the traditional chicken soup. For the vegetables, Gretchen whipped up some bitter, leafy greens with toasted pine nuts and raisins and made a kugel from carrots, parsnips, and turnips. She rounded that out with a Morrocan carrot salad. I made my rosemary roast potatoes (see Feeding Hungry Cyclists entry) to go with the roast chicken (check out this awesome and funny-looking recipe: and rack of lamb that my parents made. My mother had chocolate dipped macaroons and other cookies on hand for dessert, and I made a passover walnut cake with a honey syrup. For those of you who aren't members of the Tribe, during passover you can't have any wheat, oats, spelt, barley, or rye (collectively, chametz, pronounced ha-mets), so this cake uses matzoh cake meal and lots of eggs instead of regular cake flour. matzoh is okay even though it is wheat because it is made carefully so that it doesn't leaven. This is of course, in addition to the normal kosher restrictions (so no BLTs on matzoh).

This is the first time Gretchen and I have decided to actually follow the passover food rules. All of the recipes in this post comply. Ashkenazi Jews traditionally also refrain from eating corn, millet, rice and legumes (kitniyot). Explanations for this include that since these items can be ground into a flour, you might think your neighbor was eating one of the forbidden grains -- or they might think that you were. So to avoid the appearance of impropriety, they are to be avoided entirely. Even worse, you might accidentally eat one of the forbidden grains thinking it was corn, millet, rice or legumes. Sephardic Jews have never avoided rice and legumes (I think corn and millet are New World so weren't really an issue). A group of reform rabbis has now issued a responsa (ruling) that it is okay for Ashkenazi Jews to eat corn, millet, rice and legumes, since the idea that we would actually confuse a bowl of rice and beans for a bowl of spelt is remote at best. See This surely is a great relief for Ashkenazi vegans, who could hardly eat anything during Passover!

Here are our Passover recipes:

Mexican Matzoh Ball Soup

Since this was pretty ad-hoc, I'll just try and describe what I did.

1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, with seeds, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans San Marzano tomatoes, chopped, and their juices
1 can vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups water
2 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp oregano
2 tsp black pepper
3 bay leaves
olive oil
chopped cilantro to garnish

Sautee onion, jalapeno and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add tomatoes, vegetable broth, bay leaves, and spices. Simmer until soup reaches desired flavor and thickness, adusting spices if you want. Serve with a matzoh ball and cilantro garnish.


This is my old standby way to eat greens, but upon a bit of research, it turns out it is also the way that Sephardic Jews eat their greens too! I was Jewish before I even knew it!

Basically, you saute the greens in some oil, and then add sherry, raisins, nuts, and some cayenne; continue to cook until the sherry is mostly reduced. This time, I was making a huge amount, and it was a combination of turnip greens, collards, and dandelion greens. They were a bit bitter, so I added some honey too.

Carrot and Turnip Kugel

I didn't plan what I was going to do before I got to the seder. I just brought our Jewish cookbooks (of which we have 3), and all of our veggies, and figured it'd all work out. So the above greens were made, and then it was on to what to do with the root vegetables. One of our cookbooks had a carrot, sweet potato, and parsnip kugel recipe, and it looked pretty good. Problem was, we only had carrots and turnips. So I made it anyway, subbing turnip and more carrot for the potato and parsnip. This recipe also had apple, matzo meal, sugar, honey, egg, nutmeg, and cinnamon. I didn't grow up with kugel, and to me, it's always a bit too sweet, but I guess that's how it's supposed to be. The turnip added an interesting background flavor.

Moroccan Carrot Salad

We had enough carrots leftover after the kugel to make more carrots too. I took some of the grated carrots, and followed the moroccan carrot salad recipe from one of our cookbooks. This was really good. It had cayenne, lemon juice, olive oil, cilantro, cumin, and a little clove. SO much better than the carrot and raisin salad of my youth. I think this was my favorite of the 3 vegetable dishes. All in all, I was happy with our vegetable offerings, though I think the family was a bit surprised at how many vegetables were coming their way. I forget we're eating so incredibly differently than some (most?) people do until I see the facial expressions of the vegetable-hating among us.

Moist Walnut Cake

Follow Arthur Schwartz's walnut cake recipe:


In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup honey, 1/2 cup water, a tiny pinch of cloves, and a pinch of cinnamon. Let reduce to a thin syrup. Poke holes in the top of the cake with a toothpick and pour over honey syrup so it absorbs into the cake. Garnish with strawberries or other fruit if desired.

1 comment:

  1. Ben and I have been following the Passover rules for a couple years now. Some of the things I think are just too hard to avoid though (like, soy lecithin and maltodextrose). Ben slipped up a little and accidentally ate peanut butter (peanuts are a legume) and a few marshmallows (made from corn syrup).