Wow, it’s so good! It doesn’t even taste kosher l’Pesach!”
Why is that the best compliment a home cook hopes to receive during holiday time? While cooking for Pesach can be challenging with alternate products and many substitutions, I tend to shift my cooking mentality to what objectively tastes good all year round and recipes that do not require chametz or that require only small substitutions. The secret to good Pesach cooking is keeping it fresh and natural.
A homemade approach usually tastes better, especially if the ingredients are simple and straightforward. In some cases, I make homemade versions of convenience products, either to save money (Pesach is expensive enough!) or because the quality is way better than some store-bought items. Keep it fresh and flavorful and no one will miss the chametz!
No-Fail Hand Blender Mayonnaise
Yields 1 cup
Before mayonnaise was a common pantry condiment, it was a sophisticated homemade accompaniment that could be flavored or personalized with a signature touch, a refined show of classy dining. On Pesach, it is a bit more challenging to produce due to the omission of mustard, which provides extra flavor and stability (mustard is an excellent emulsifier). When good quality mayonnaise is hard to come by, consider making your own and notice the difference.
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup neutral flavored oil (e.g. vegetable or safflower)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Combine egg yolk, lemon juice, salt and water in a tall, narrow cup just wide enough to fit the head of the immersion blender to the bottom of the cup. Pour neutral oil on top carefully. Slowly lower the head of the blender down until it is submerged and reaches the bottom of the cup. Hold cup steady with one hand while blending with the other until the color visibly changes to white and a thickened, creamy mayonnaise is created. Slowly lift blender head, pulsing until all oil is incorporated.
2. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. If consistency is too thick, whisk in 1–2 teaspoons of water or lemon juice until desired consistency is reached. Chill, covered, until ready to use, for up to one week.
• Like the store-bought stuff, your homemade mayo can be used as a blank canvas for other flavors and variations—green herb mayo, spicy sriracha mayo, pesto mayo, et cetera.
Tips for “egg-cellent” emulsion success:
• Use room temperature eggs.
• Be sure to beat eggs until thick and lemon-colored before adding oil.
• Oil should be added in droplets at first until emulsion begins; then the oil can go in a little more rapidly.
• One egg yolk can absorb up to ¾–1 cup oil. You can use all neutral flavored oil (such as vegetable oil) or a combination of neutral flavored and olive oil.
• To fix split mayo, start in a clean bowl with another egg yolk and a few drops of lemon juice. Whisk until pale yellow and starting to thicken, then add the split mixture in a few drops at a time, whisking until incorporated before adding more. Continue slowly whisking in until you reach desired consistency.
Hangar Steak with Chimichurri and Herbed Tomato Salad
Yields 4 servings
Argentina’s answer to ketchup, the vinegary herb mélange known as chimichurri is a must to serve with grilled meats. But it’s also a fantastic marinade—after a few hours marinating in chimichurri, hangar steak is moist and flavorful, especially on the grill. Serve steak alongside a refreshing herbed tomato salad, plus extra chimichurri for dipping.
2 cups packed flat leaf parsley leaves (about 1 large bunch)
¼ cup fresh oregano leaves
Pinch of kosher salt
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
(from 1 lemon)
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 hangar steaks, about ½” thick
Herbed Tomato Salad
3 medium vine-ripe tomatoes, diced
½ red onion, minced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons parsley, minced
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Place parsley, oregano, salt, garlic, jalapeño pepper, vinegar and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade (“s” blade). Pulse until pulverized.
2. While motor is running, slowly add olive oil until mixture is uniform and well blended. Season to taste with salt or pepper as needed.
3. Transfer mixture to a large container or baking dish, reserving ½ cup chimichurri for serving time. Place steaks in dish, turning to coat with chimichurri. Cover and marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
4. Preheat broiler or grill to high heat. Remove steaks from marinade; discard marinade. Broil or grill steaks for 3–4 minutes per side, turning once during cooking. Allow steaks to rest for 5–10 minutes before serving.
5. While steaks are resting, combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Toss to blend; season to taste, adding more salt or pepper as needed.
6. Serve steaks with reserved chimichurri for dipping and herbed tomato salad.
Citrus Shallot Dressing
Your go-to super fresh salad dressing of choice. Make a double batch for the whole week! This dressing is especially good on any salad with chicken or even just drizzled on sliced avocado.
1 garlic clove, minced
2–3 pinches salt
¼ cup fresh orange juice
(juice of approx. 1 orange)
Juice of ½ lemon
Juice of 1½ limes
1 large shallot, minced
½ cup olive oil
Combine garlic, salt, juices and shallot. Whisk until well blended. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth. Season to taste and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately or store in a cruet/container and refrigerate for up to one week.
• For a perfectly smooth dressing, blend with immersion blender or food processor.
• Tangerine Variation: Replace orange and lime juices with fresh juice of 1 tangerine. Increase lemon juice to juice of 1 whole lemon.
Yields 3-4 cups
There is nothing like homemade applesauce. For perfectly textured applesauce, I prefer using a food mill with the medium gauge blade—the original manual food processor. A food mill will also hold back peels (so no peeling necessary!) when blending cooked apples. Adding strawberries or plums is purely optional but does add a lovely rosy color to the applesauce.
3 pounds MacIntosh apples, peeled, cored and quartered
Water (about 1–2 cups)
1 cinnamon stick
2–4 tablespoons sugar
Optional 1½ cups frozen strawberries, thawed; or 3–4 plums, pits removed and sliced
1. Place apples and cinnamon stick in a large pot and add enough water for apples to be immersed.
2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a simmer. Simmer for 15–20 minutes or until apples are very soft and beginning to fall apart (optional strawberries or plums can be added halfway through cooking).
3. Discard cinnamon stick. Using a slotted spoon, transfer apples in batches to food mill (reserve cooking liquid) and blend. Slowly add back cooking water to the apples as needed for desired consistency (the remainder can be discarded). Alternatively, the apples can be pulsed in a food processor (with half of liquid) or mashed with a potato masher until desired consistency is reached.
4. Return applesauce to the same pot (no need to wash!) and place over low heat. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and mix to blend. Season to taste, adding additional sugar a little at a time until desired sweetness is reached. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. (Applesauce can also be frozen up for to 3 months.)
Naomi Ross is a cooking instructor and food writer based in Woodmere, New York. She teaches classes throughout the country and writes articles connecting delicious cooking and Jewish inspiration. Her first cookbook, The Giving Table, was released this year.