Thursday, March 12, 2015

If Ya Don't Eat Yer Vegetables Ya Can't Have Any Pesach

Tis the season fa la la la la.....for Jews to go ABSOLUTELY BAT-SHIT CRAZY.

Pesach. Approacheth.

Pesach is my absolute favorite holiday. I love just about everything about it. I love the cleaning (yes, I do. Don't hate me.), I love the clean house that results, I love having a minimalist kitchen for a week, I love the Seder and everything that goes with it, and I LOVE Pesach food.

Which is why I hate it when other people go absolutely crazy and complain there is nothing to eat.

I have ranted about this before, and I'll probably rant about it again, but for now I'm going to spend the the few weeks leading in to Pesach with ideas of what to eat. Here are my guidelines:
  1. Food will be mostly healthy - no instant soups or margarine here.
  2. Food will be mostly vegetarian.
  3. Food will not include kitniyot - no, we don't eat kitniyot. Yes, I believe we could. I see nothing wrong with the idea of it, except I am gosh-darned proud of my Ashkenazi heritage, and if we're going to kill Yiddish, the least we can do is keep our traditions alive. 
  4. There will be food other than eggs. 
  5. No 'fake chametz' substitutes. So you can't eat pasta or cereal or pizza for a week. DEAL WITH IT. Don't try going all potato-starch on me. That's disgusting. 
I suspect that the problem people have with Pesach is two-fold. One - there is not a lot of grab-and-go food. It's true. It's hard to reach into the fridge and grab something when you're hungry. Cooking is required. And two, and I think this one is key, Jews Don't Eat Vegetables.

I eat vegetables. Does this mean I'm not Jewish?

Not you and I, of course. We're great at it. I mean OTHER Jews. The ones who go on groups and complain that they don't know what to make for shabbat, because they are making a chicken and a kugel and a cholent, and what are they going to serve for a vegetable? And then someone chimes in with 'how about potatoes?' Argh. THOSE Jews.

In order to prove this point, I'm going to borrow a trick that my high school literature teacher taught us when we were learning Crime and Punishment (this was about twenty years ago, mind you, and the fact that I remember it to this day is proof of how cool this teacher was.) We were discussing the crime vs. the punishment, and how it seemed like the punishment didn't really fit the crime. And then, she picked up the book, and held it up sidewise. Looking at the book straight on, about 1 cm of the width was the crime, and the rest of the book, about ten times that, was the punishment.

I will now use that trick to demonstrate how Jews feel about vegetables.


Of those vegetable recipes, 10% were potato recipes, about 35% were not kosher for pesach due to them being lasagna or pasta, and one of them was a rice and lentils recipe. Huh? Um....

So that was just an experiment with the only Jewy cookbook I own, but I welcome and encourage you to do the same experiment yourself with your own cookbooks and let me know what you find out.

My point is, in order to eat well for Pesach, even to eat vegetarian well, you have to think outside the box of Jew-cooking and start thinking in the box of vegetable cooking. It's doable. I swear. Channel your inner rabbit. Ok, and maybe your inner cat, because you might want to eat more fish.

Here are some ideas, and we'll get talking recipes as we get closer to the holiday.

Behold, my Pesach kitchen from three years ago.

 Pesach Meal Ideas

  1. Baked potatoes (Pictured) topped with sour cream/dill/lox/etc.
  2. Eggplant Parmesan (homemade tomato sauce pictured)
  3. Baked Salmon with lemon and dill (pictured) with sides (green veg/potato/quinoa/salad/coleslaw/etc.)
  4. Salad! For example, with Halloumi cheese + pear + walnuts
  5. Scrambled Matza Brye with cheese and/or loads of parsley
  6. Bell Peppers stuffed with Quinoa 
  7. Blintzes filled with mushrooms and ricotta (ok, ok, that one uses potato starch substitute) 
  8. Pesach rolls with anything - good for grab and go meals 
  9. Steamed fish with vegetables
  10. Gnocchi? Might work without flour. I have to experiment with this one. 
  11. Ratatouille with fried egg, or on quinoa 
Etc. etc. If you eat legumes, then you should really be able to eat like a king. A vegetarian king.

Actual recipes to follow.

1 comment:

  1. There are soooo many recipes that work for Pesach. I've even got a few of my own: - replace the flour with fine matzah flour - or leave it out altogether; serve with potatoes and you are golden - Literally made in under fifteen minutes - works excellently on its own, as a spread, or with fish (I like to serve it with lightly cooked salmon)

    Of course, then there's the concept of using matzah to create pizza, which is also highly excellent.

    Oh, and if you thought you didn't like spinach, try this one on for size: