With our focus now turned to the upcoming Pesach holiday, I wanted to share with you some lighter and healthier meal ideas. We have some baked, not fried eggplant, low-carb “rice” created in a unique way, a nice salad and a refreshingly light dessert. I hope this will enhance your Pesach and bring you many nice compliments.
Let’s begin with eggplants, a commonly used vegetable by nearly every segment of Jewish society. Many eggplant recipes call for frying, but in this recipe we will just bake them. It comes out so delicious, that on the day we prepared it for this photo shoot, I had to keep everyone from finishing it before the photos were taken. I was completely shocked to find that even my pickiest eater – who had never so much as touched an eggplant before – ate many of them, and even asked me to make more. I thought I was hearing things; this was so unusual! This recipe is best when served hot and does not freeze well.
Crunchy Eggplant with Tomato Onion Sauce
2 large, firm eggplants, peeled and sliced
Oil for smearing the baking tray
1 cup potato starch
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder, optional
1/2 teaspoon ginger
For the sauce
1 onion, diced and sautéed
8 overripe tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, optional
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
Note: The garlic adds a very nice flavor. However, as some people have a minhag not to use it on Pesach, I have listed it as optional.
First the sauce. Put all the sauce ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth. There might be some small chunks – its fine. Pour mixture into a small pot, cover and turn the flame on high. When the sauce starts to bubble, turn the flame to low and remove the lid. You want the excess liquid to start to boil away so the sauce will thicken. Let it cook for an hour until it decreases.
If you want a thicker sauce, take 2 teaspoons of potato starch and put it in a small bowl. Add some water and mix it until smooth. Pour into sauce during the last 5 minutes of cooking time and immediately stir. It should thicken the sauce immediately.
Keep the sauce warm.
Peel and slice the eggplants into thin rounds and let them soak for a half hour in a bowl of cold water to which a tablespoon of salt was added. Then rinse them off and squeeze out the water. Pat dry.
In one bowl beat 3 eggs. In a second bowl mix potato starch and spices until well incorporated.
Spray two large trays with water and cover with baking paper. (The water will hold the paper down.) Pour about 3 tablespoons of oil on each paper and spread with a basting brush.
Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C.
Dip each piece of eggplant into the potato starch, the egg, and then the potato starch again. Lay in a single layer on the oiled trays. As soon as you lay one piece down, turn it over so that both sides of the eggplant get a bit greased. Continue doing this until you have filled up both trays. Bake until lightly browned and crispy, about 12-15 minutes.
Serve the eggplants on a nice platter with the sauce on the side. If you are serving this at a dairy meal, place some grated cheese on the table as well. While the cheese will not melt on the eggplant, it will be very tasty. As I mentioned earlier, this recipe was a real hit and is well worth the time involved in preparing it.
This next recipe is from Norene Gilletz’s book, The NEW Food Processor Bible (Whitecap). Norene is a food writer, culinary consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer and cookbook editor who is based in Toronto, Canada. You can read more about her at www.gourmania.com. Her recipes are quite innovative. I am so pleased to share this one with you.
Low-Carb Fried “Rice”
Photo by Doug Gilletz
This colorful low-carb dish is ideal for vegetarians or anyone following a gluten-free diet; it’s also delicious for Pesach when everyone welcomes lighter options. Prepare the veggies in advance (a food processor speeds up preparation), then cover and refrigerate them overnight. When needed, stir-fry them quickly in a wok or large, deep skillet. Undercook them slightly if you plan to reheat them later, in order to prevent them from becoming soggy.
1/2 cup fresh parsley
4 cloves garlic
1 slice ginger (about 1 Tbsp. minced)
1/2 head of cauliflower
2 medium carrots
2 stalks celery
1 red onion, halved and sliced
1 broccoli stalk, trimmed
2 cups mushrooms
2 red bell peppers, quartered and thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon instant pareve chicken soup mix
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds (optional)
Process the parsley on the steel blade of your food processor until finely minced. Remove it from the bowl and reserve to use as a garnish. Drop garlic and ginger through the feed tube while the machine is running; process until minced. Set aside.
Wash and drain the cauliflower thoroughly; cut into large chunks. Grate, using medium-firm pressure on pusher. The grated cauliflower is your “rice.” Grate carrots, using medium pressure. Set aside.
Cut celery, onion and broccoli to fit feed tube. Slice, using medium pressure. Slice mushrooms and red peppers, using medium pressure. (Veggies can be prepared in advance, covered and refrigerated for several hours or overnight.)
Heat oil in a large nonstick wok or skillet on high heat. Stir-fry garlic and ginger for 30 seconds. Add onion, celery, broccoli, mushrooms and red peppers and stir-fry for 2 to 4 minutes longer. Add grated cauliflower and carrots. Stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes longer, until tender-crisp. Do not overcook veggies or they will get too soft. If adding eggs, push the entire mixture to one side of the wok. On the empty side, add beaten eggs and scramble for 2 minutes or until they are just set. Mix the eggs into the “rice.” Season with salt, pepper and soup mix. Remove from the heat and transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle with parsley and almonds at serving time. Best served immediately.
This keeps for about two days in the refrigerator; reheats well in the microwave. Don’t freeze.
Variation: To make this into a main dish, add cut-up cooked chicken or turkey the last two minutes of stir-frying.
This next salad is something that can be quite economical. Seder night is over already? Take all that chicken you used in the soup, cut it up into small chunks and look what a great salad you can make out of it now…
Chrein Chicken Salad
Photo by Sharon Bentov
2 cups cooked chicken, cut into small chunks
1 hard boiled egg, cut into tiny pieces, optional
2 stalks celery, diced
1 scallion, diced
1 small carrot, peeled and shredded
4-6 tablespoons mayonnaise + 2 tablespoons chrein, mixed together
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup crushed almonds, toasted first
In a large, dry skillet over medium heat, toast the almonds for 5-8 minutes until lightly browned. Turn off the heat.
Place the cut chicken pieces, egg, celery, scallion and shredded carrot into a large bowl. In another small bowl, mix together the “chreiyonnaise”, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Pour this over the chicken mixture and mix it together well, by hand.
Add in the toasted almonds and serve in scoops over a piece of lettuce, with a cherry tomato in its center.
For our next and final recipe, I’d like to focus on dessert. At the end of a full meal, this refreshing and light gluten and matzah meal free pie will be a welcome treat…
Meringue Fruit Pie
6 egg whites
1 & 1/4 cups sugar
2 cups (450 grams) mango, fresh or frozen
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups berries of choice, or slices of fresh kiwi
Preheat the oven to 175°F. This is a low oven temperature, which is what you need to bake meringues.
Beat the egg whites on high until they begin to stiffen slightly. Without turning off the beaters, add the sugar gradually and continue beating until the egg whites are stiff and have peaks. Turn off the mixer.
Take out a 10-inch (about 22-24 cm) round preferably glass pie dish and pile the meringue into it. Try to build up the edges somewhat while smoothing the center so you will have a pie shape with a slight indentation in its center. Bake for an hour to an hour and a half, until slightly browned. Turn off the oven and let it remain inside, with the oven door ajar, for another half hour. Carefully remove from the oven and let it cool.
If not serving right away, refrigerate it until an hour before serving time.
To create the mango sauce
If you are using frozen mango, let it defrost first and drain off all the liquid. Put the mango pieces into your blender/food processor with the sugar and lemon juice and process until smooth. Refrigerate until serving time.
To serve, choose the berries of your choice and/or some kiwi or mandarin orange slices for the center of the pie; cut slices and give each person some mango sauce on the side.
Have a wonderful Pesach!
Photos by Reuven Ansh (except where noted)
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