A Lighter Side of Pesach Cooking

No-Fail Turkey Roast. Photo: Baila Gluck

 

I could easily go through fifteen dozen eggs over the course of Pesach. Indeed, schmaltz and eggs are the basis for some of my fondest Pesach memories! That said, a week without chametz doesn’t mean a week without flavor, or a week of eating that you’ll regret.  

Healthy choices and lighter versions of crowd-pleasing dishes are within reach. Here are a few that I’m happy to share to enhance your holiday table. 

 

No-Fail Turkey Roast  
Yields 6 servings 

It doesn’t have to be fancy to be tasty; it just has to be cooked right. Basic spices will enhance this perfectly moist turkey breast. 

1 (2½-3lb) white meat turkey roast (boneless breast with skin) 
2 tablespoons white wine 
3 tablespoons olive oil 
1 teaspoon salt 
½ teaspoon black pepper 
1 teaspoon garlic powder 
1¼ teaspoons paprika 
¾ teaspoon thyme 
1 tablespoon honey 

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. 

2. Place turkey roast in a medium roasting pan skin-side up. 

3. Combine all remaining ingredients in a small bowl, whisking until well blended. Rub mixture evenly all over roast to coat.

4. Roast uncovered for 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F. Cover with foil (and insert meat thermometer probe). Continue to roast until turkey’s internal temperature reaches 160°F. Remove from oven and tent foil over turkey, allowing it to rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing.  

5. To serve, remove netting, slice and place on platter. Drizzle pan juices over sliced turkey. 

Cook’s Note: The internal temperature of the roast will continue to rise by 5-8 degrees after it is removed from the oven—this is called “carry-over cooking.” 

 

Braised Red Cabbage and Apples 
Yields 8-10 servings 
This is a perfect do-ahead dish, as the cabbage’s intense flavors will improve and develop when made a day ahead. Cabbage will keep up to five days when covered and chilled.  

3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil 
2 medium or 1 very large sweet onion (Vidalia or Maui), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced 
1 small head (1½ lb) red cabbage, shredded or sliced ¼ inch thick 
2 Fuji apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped 
1½ cups dry red wine (such as Merlot or Cabernet) 
1 cup water 
½ cup red wine vinegar 
¼ cup sugar 
1½ teaspoons salt or more, to taste 
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or more, to taste 

1. Heat oil in a wide and heavy 6- to 8-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add cabbage and apples, continually stirring until completely coated with oil and cabbage is slightly wilted, about 10 minutes.  

2. Add wine, water, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for an hour or until cabbage is tender and has absorbed a good amount of the liquid. 

3. Season to taste with salt and pepper or more sugar, if necessary.  

Matzah Brei Cups 
Dairy, Yields 10 cups 
A cuter, lighter, baked version of the fried classic. For a lovely serving presentation, fill with your choice of suggested toppings (see next page)! 

2 sheets matzah 
Boiling water 
1 tablespoon melted butter (plus more for greasing pan) 
1 egg, beaten 
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar 
½ teaspoon kosher salt 
½ teaspoon cinnamon 

1. Preheat oven to 375°F and grease a standard-size muffin pan liberally with butter.  

2. Place matzah sheets in a large mixing bowl and use your hands to break up matzah into very small pieces. Pour boiling water over broken matzah and stir to soak pieces. Drain matzah in a colander or sieve and return drained matzah to mixing bowl. Add 1 tablespoon melted butter, beaten egg, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon; mix to blend.  

3. Divide mixture between 10 cups (out of 12) in muffin pan. Use your fingers or the back of a small spoon to press mixture into an even layer on the bottoms and up the sides of each muffin cup. Place pan in center of preheated oven; bake for 13-14 minutes or until matzah brei cups appear browned and slightly crisp. Remove pan from oven and cool.  

4. When cooled, run the tip of a knife around the rim of each cup. Slide a small offset spatual or knife under each matzah brei cup to loosen the bottoms. Transfer cups to a baking sheet. (This can be done in advance).  

5. Before serving, place baking sheet in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes to warm and crisp exterior of matzah brei cups.  

6. Remove from oven and fill with your choice of suggested toppings—mix and match as you like (see box below) or use the Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote. 

 

Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote  
Yields 6-8 servings 

lbs strawberries (2 quarts) 
lb rhubarb, woody ends trimmed and sliced into ½-inch pieces 
Juice of ½ a lemon (about 2-3 teaspoons) 
¾ cup sugar or more, to taste 
1/3 cup water (or white wine) 

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes, until all fruit is tender and liquid is thickened and syrupy. Season to taste, adding more sugar as necessary. Remove from heat and cool. Chill before serving. 

 

 

 

Espresso Meringue Cookies Photo: Baila Gluck

Espresso Meringue Cookies 
Yields 18-24 cookies 
Crispy on the outside, slightly chewy on the inside, the perfect meringue is fat-free and awaits your delight this Pesach!  

4 large egg whites 
¼ teaspoon salt 
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar 
1 cup sugar 
1½ tablespoons instant espresso powder or instant coffee 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
Cocoa for dusting 
Optional: coffee beans 

1. Preheat oven to 250°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar with an electric mixer (fitted with the balloon whisk attachment) on medium speed until whites are foamy. Increase speed to high, beating until soft peaks form. Slowly add in the sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, beating for 15-30 seconds after each addition. Add the espresso and vanilla; continue to beat until the meringue forms very stiff, shiny peaks when the beaters are raised.  

3. Working quickly, drop the mixture by large spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them 1-2 inches apart. Top each meringue with optional coffee beans and dust with cocoa. 

4. Bake for 1 hour or until the surfaces of the meringues feel dry and you can pick one off the parchment without any sticking. 

5. Turn off oven, prop the door open slightly with the handle of a wooden spoon, and allow meringues to cool gently in the oven for 1 hour. Transfer to a serving platter. 

Cook’s Tip: For best results, use fresh room-temperature egg whites.  

Naomi Ross is a cooking instructor and food writer and the culinary director at Apron Masters Kitchen in Woodmere, New York. She teaches classes throughout the tristate area and writes articles connecting good cooking and Jewish inspiration. Follow her at @cookingconcepts on Instagram or visit her website at: www.koshercookingconcepts.com

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This article was featured in the Spring 2020 issue of Jewish Action.
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