Beyond Chicken and Potatoes: Pesach Never Tasted So Good!

Preparing healthy, satisfying and delicious meals for family and friends during the eight days of Pesach is a huge challenge. The secret is to focus on plant-based foods, including a variety of colorful, fiber-packed vegetables and fruits, either enjoyed on their own or added to easy-to-prepare recipes. So much better for you than filling up on potatoes and starchy, processed carbs, eating far too many eggs and indulging on too much matzah shmeared with butter and jam.

This scrumptious selection of wholesome, flexible, family-friendly foods will bring rave reviews from everyone seated at your Pesach table.

Photo: Jon Edwards Photography

Photo: Jon Edwards Photography

Albondiga Soup
Adapted from Celebrate: Food, Family, Shabbos
by Elizabeth Kurtz, to benefit Emunah of America a—
Yields 10 servings

This exotic Spanish soup is a Pesach favorite for Elizabeth Kurtz’s family, precisely because it tastes nothing like Pesach. Carrots and zucchini, fresh cilantro, wonderfully rich broth and flavorful meatballs—albondigas—make a filling first course that your family and guests will love.

1 pound ground turkey
1/3 cup matzah meal
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 large zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 avocado, pitted and chopped, for garnish
1 lime, cut into wedges, for garnish
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro or parsley, for garnish

Combine ground turkey, matzah meal, cilantro, parsley, cumin, and salt in a medium bowl. Use a wooden spoon to gently stir the mixture until blended. Add egg, mixing just until combined. Form into 1-inch balls.

Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add broth, water, and tomato paste, stirring to dissolve. Add carrots; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and add meatballs; cook 15 minutes over medium-low heat. Add zucchini; cook until carrots and zucchini are tender and meatballs are cooked through, an additional 10 to 15 minutes.

Add chopped cilantro, oregano, salt and pepper. Serve hot with avocado, lime wedges and a sprinkle of minced cilantro.

Norene’s Notes:
Make Ahead: This soup can be prepared two days ahead of time. Store covered in the refrigerator or freeze up to three months. Defrost in the refrigerator. Reheat over medium heat before serving.


Photo: Jon Edwards Photography

Photo: Jon Edwards Photography

Roasted Beet and Asparagus Salad
Adapted from Celebrate: Food, Family, Shabbos
by Elizabeth Kurtz, to benefit Emunah of America
Yields 8 servings

Gorgeous and delicious roasted beets and asparagus layer this salad with color. Elizabeth Kurtz likes to serve it on a platter instead of a bowl to really showcase the vegetables. This unique preparation of traditional Pesach ingredients is sure to impress your guests.

2 beets, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
8 spears green or white asparagus
6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1/2 cup sliced hearts of palm
1 cup honey-glazed pecans
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup safflower oil

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Toss beets with salt and 2 Tbsp of olive oil; place on prepared baking sheet. Roast until softened, about 40 minutes. Let cool.

Arrange asparagus on a separate baking sheet; drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Roast just until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes for green asparagus or 8 to 9 minutes for white. Let cool, and then cut into 2-inch pieces or leave whole.

Arrange romaine lettuce on a large platter. Scatter with hearts of palm, pecans, roasted beets and asparagus.

Whisk together vinegar, sugar, salt and garlic in a small bowl. Slowly add oil, whisking continuously until emulsified. Pour over salad; toss and serve immediately.

Norene’s Notes:
Make Ahead: Dressing, beets and asparagus can be made two days in advance. Beets tend to turn everything pink, so store them separately. Bring dressing to room temperature before using and dress salad just before serving.
Tip: Use gloves or a paper towel when cutting cooked or uncooked beets. Their beautiful color stains not only the counter but also your fingers.
Lighten Up: Substitute 1/3 cup toasted chopped pecans for the honey-glazed pecans. Omit the 3 Tbsp olive oil used for roasting the beets and asparagus. Instead, spray the vegetables with olive oil cooking spray. For the dressing, reduce the balsamic vinegar to 1/4 cup, the sugar to 2 Tbsp, and the oil to 1/3 cup. Add 2 Tbsp water.




Quinoa with Roasted Veggies
Adapted from The Silver Platter: Simple to Spectacular
by Daniella Silver and Norene Gilletz (ArtScroll)
Yields 10 servings

With five different roasted veggies, this colorful dish is great for a crowd. It’s a cross between a salad and a side dish that is vegan-friendly, protein-rich and gluten-free.

Roasted Vegetables
1 medium red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 zucchini, diced (do not peel)
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp)
2 Tbsp olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
3 cups lightly salted water
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 to 3 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine onion, bell pepper, zucchini, sweet potato and garlic. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Spread in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Roast, uncovered, for 35-45 minutes, until golden.

Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add quinoa and reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes, covered. Fluff quinoa with a fork.

Combine ingredients for dressing in a glass jar; seal tightly and shake well.

In a serving bowl, combine cooked quinoa with roasted veggies and dressing. Mix well. Serve hot or at room temperature. Do not freeze.

Norene’s Notes:
One-Dish Meal: Top with thinly sliced chicken breast, chunks of salmon, or even cubes of gefilte fish.
Roasted Veggies: The roasted vegetables can be enjoyed on their own as a simple, healthful side dish. Instead of dicing the veggies, either cut them into 1-inch chunks or cut into strips. Instead of sweet potato, substitute butternut squash. You can add 2 cups of sliced mushrooms and 1 small Asian eggplant to the veggie mix—no need to peel the eggplant first.

*Please note the OU only recommends quinoa on Pesach when bearing an OU-P.


chef table mango chicken

Photo: EyeCandyTO

Mango Chicken with Leeks & Red Peppers
Adapted from The Silver Platter: Simple to Spectacular
by Daniella Silver and Norene Gilletz (ArtScroll)

This unique combo of leeks, red pepper and mango is a perfect way to jazz up your basic roast chicken. The tropical taste of mango adds a sweet flavor and a pop of bright color. This Pesach, be bold in the kitchen and try new things—that’s the best way
to cook.

2 chickens (about 3 lb/1.4 kg each), cut into eighths
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried basil
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 large leeks, thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers, halved and thinly sliced
2 mangoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a large roasting pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Trim and discard excess fat from chicken pieces. Arrange chicken, skin side up, in a single layer in prepared pan. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder and basil. Drizzle honey over chicken. Rub chicken on all sides to coat with spices and honey. (Can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerated, covered.)

Roast, uncovered, for 1 hour and 20 minutes, until cooked through and juices run clear. Baste occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Sauté leeks and red peppers for 7-8 minutes, until golden. Stir in mangoes. Season with salt and pepper; cook until heated through, about 3 minutes.

Transfer chicken to a serving platter; pour on topping.

Norene’s Notes:
Tip: To clean leeks, trim off most of the green part of each leek. Make 4 lengthwise cuts almost to the root so that the leek resembles a broom. Swish leeks in a sink filled with cold water to remove any sand or grit. Dry well. Cut off and discard root end.

Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. Visit her web site at or e-mail her at

This article was featured in the Spring 2016 issue of Jewish Action.
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