Pasta-free Zucchini Lasagna for Pesach

Zucchini Lasagna

You know those recipes that people post on their Facebook statuses? I am sure most of you ignore them. But recently, one caught my eye for a zucchini parmesan. Coming just before Pesach, I decided it was worth a second read as it didn’t have any chametz.

I wasn’t excited about the part that called for frying the zucchini, but I saw the potential and decided to transform it into a “fake lasagna” that would work well as a side dish or even main dish for vegetarians for Pesach. So I went all mad-cook on the recipe, and came out with a dish that will definitely become part of my year-round repertoire. It’s got all the flavors of lasagna without the pasta, so this means it’s also good for those who stay away from gluten.

PASTA-FREE ZUCCHINI LASAGNA

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

4-6 large zucchinis sliced lengthways into half centimeter (¼ inch) slices (if you only have small zucchinis, then make sure you have enough to cover two full oven trays). Slice off a thin slice of skin on either side of the zucchini so that there aren’t any slices that are half skin. zucchinilasagna1

300 g (12 oz) grated Mozzarella

400g (14 oz) crushed tomatoes

4-5 garlic cloves crushed

6-8 fresh chopped basil leaves

1 teaspoon sugar

250 g (½lb) ricotta cheese (you can also use cottage cheese)

1 egg

Salt and pepper to taste

100 g (4 oz) grated Parmesan or Emmental cheese (any cheese with a nice tang)

How to do it

1. Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC (350ºF)

2. Line two large baking trays with baking paper and lightly spread them with olive oil. Line the trays with the sliced zucchini – squeeze them all in there; there’s no need for space between the slices.

3. Roast for about half an hour till just starting to get color, turning them over halfway through. (Make sure not to overcook them as they will get too soft and you won’t be able to handle them.)

3. In a small saucepan, heat some olive oil and fry the garlic just until it starts to get golden. Add the crushed tomato, chopped fresh basil leaves, salt and pepper, and sugar. Allow to come to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Set aside.

4. In a bowl, combine the egg, ricotta cheese, salt and pepper. Mix till combined. Set aside.

5. To assemble, grease a medium-sized baking dish with a little olive oil or cooking spray. Evenly spread about 4-5 tablespoons of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the dish.

6. Place a layer of zucchini strips on top of the tomato sauce, trying to cover as much of the area as possible. Spread the ricotta mixture over the tomato sauce, spread about one third of the tomato sauce over the ricotta, and then sprinkle about half the grated Mozzarella over the tomato sauce.

7. Add another layer of the zucchini strips on top of the cheese, and spread another one third of the tomato sauce over it, followed by the rest of the Mozarella.

8. Add a final layer of zucchini strips, followed by tomato sauce and the Parmesan or Emmental cheese, spreading it evenly over the top of the dish.

9. Bake at 180ºC (350ºF) for 30-40 minutes or until the cheese starts browning slightly.

Serves about 8 as a side dish.

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And coming early this year….it’s Pesach!

Seder Table

Less than a year will have passed since last Pesach before we’ll be sitting down to our seders for 5773. It’s time to start planning menus and meals, and head to the supermarkets and delis to see what’s available for this year.

I am re-posting all my Pesach recipes from last year. When it comes to cooking for Pesach, I believe that you go with what works for you. My family certainly waits for their Pesach favorites, which I love to cook. I will be adding a few new recipes in the next couple of weeks as well.

Here’s the list of recipes I have for Pesach, and you can also find them on the “Passover” tab on my home page.

Chicken Soup and Matza Balls

Chicken Soup and Matza Balls

Chicken soup and kneidlach/matza balls – No seder is complete without this Ashkenazi classic…

My family’s tzimmes – Another tradition in my family is this tzimmes, made with kneidel mixture in the middle of a sweet carrot and sweet potato mix.

Flaumen (Potato and Prune) Tzimmes – A really delicious side dish for the seder table and throughout Pesach.

 

Brisket with potatoes and carrots

Brisket with potatoes and carrots

Brisket –  Because how can you have a Seder without brisket (or at least that’s the rule in my house).

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce for Pesach – A great dish to put on your Seder table for the kids who don’t like brisket! It’s really similar to my regular recipe, but made without bread crumbs, and using matza meal instead.

 

Kosher for Pesach Sticky Asian Chicken

Kosher for Pesach Sticky Asian Chicken

Sweet Asian Chicken Pieces (kitniyot) – With sweet chili sauce available as KFR (kitnoyot), you can make this great recipe for crispy chicken in a sweet Asian sauce that you will want to make all year round.

Ratatouille – The perfect side dish for Pesach – ratatouille has only KFP ingredients, is parev, tastes good and looks really colorful.

Roast Potatoes Perfect for Pesach – An easy and basic recipe for roast potatoes that will make everyone forget it’s Pesach.

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage for Pesach – This side dish is the perfect accompaniment to anything Ashkenazi especially your brisket.

Spinach Gnocchi – This is a really fun KFP gnocchi dish that really works and tastes good. It’s great for a mid-week meal when you’re done with Seder leftovers and don’t have room for another morsel of brisket!

Kosher for Pesach Enchiladas– Kitniyot Only – Here’s a fun dairy, kitniyot recipe. I am sure that Mexicans would scoff at the bastardization of this wonderful dish, but when it comes to Pesach, anything that can be made kosher is fair game.

Quiche for Pesach– Using an alternative crust that is very delicious, but does require more work than a butter crust.

 

Roasted Vegetables and Quinoa Salad in a Citrus Dressing

Roasted Vegetables and Quinoa Salad in a Citrus Dressing

Quinoa Salad – This is the recipe I came up with one Pesach when I had last minute vegetarian guests. It’s a great dish and makes a really nice salad that’s full of flavor. There is some disagreement as to whether quinoa is kitniyot or not. OUKosher says, “since quinoa, which has only recently been introduced to the Northern Hemisphere from its native South America, was never considered kitniot, it remains permitted on Pesach even though logically it should be included in the minhag…” But please read the full article for all the info and make your own choice.

Easy Roasted Red Onion and Lettuce Salad– When you’ve been toiling all day in the kitchen making all that seder food, the last thing you want to do is slave over a salad. How about this easy stand-by? You can roast the onions in advance, and throw it all together in minutes. You will want to double this recipe if you’re having a big crowd.

 

New Pesach Slaw

New Pesach Slaw

New Pesach Slaw (can contain kitniyot) This is a colorful salad that will look beautiful on your table, even if it doesn’t have the Asian flavors that give it a kick in the rest of the year. I have posted a recipe for making your own KFP peanut butter (for kitniyot eaters).

Carrot Soup – One of my favorite everyday soups that’s also KFP and can be made parev, so how can you lose by adding this to your own KFP repertoire?

Chocolate Vanilla Cream Cake – This is a regular recipe that just happens to also be KFP! This is a dairy cake, so you won’t want to serve it at your Seder (unless you’re doing a vegetarian Seder, in which case, I highly recommend this as a great dessert). But as a wonderful treat, this cake’s a winner, especially since it’s really simple to make.

Coconut Mounds – Pesach isn’t Pesach without coconut cookies.When I first made this recipe, I was sure it would be disastrous because it just seemed way too easy. I was wrong. They are delicious and crazy easy, so do make them with your kids.

Apple Squares for Pesach – This is a regular on my Seder dessert table. It’s easy to make, tastes good and isn’t overly sweet. And of course, it’s parev, so works on many levels. There’s nothing like fruit to cover the taste of the kosher for Pesach “flours”!

Chocolate Roll For Pesach – Here’s a fun dessert that’s versatile, tastes good and looks good. Have fun with fillings of your choice. I offer two options, but you can get creative and add whatever you and your family like.

Hummus Cake for Pesach

Hummus Cake for Pesach

Chocolate Truffle Cake – This is a most incredible cake, which I adapted from the hametz version with relative ease. For chocolate lovers, this cake is a dream. It’s really rich so can serve a lot of eaters, and because it’s parev, it’s a great Seder dessert option. You can also make this ahead of time and freeze it.

Hummus Chocolate Cake (kitniyot) – This simple to make recipe turns out a delicious chocolate cake that tastes like brownies and has no trace of garbanzo beans.

 

Upside-Down Lemon Meringue Cake

Upside-Down Lemon Meringue Cake

Upside-Down Lemon Meringue Cake for Pesach– The first time I made this I was so excited because I saw that it could also work for Pesach with no adaptations and it can be made parev. This is one of my favorite desserts for any time of year, so being able to serve in at a Seder table is a huge bonus. Watch your guests gasp with delight when you bring this onto the table. It will give them the strength to make it to Chad Gadyah with ease.

Home Made Peanut Butter for Pesach –  In my house, peanut butter is a staple, and no chag is going to force us to give up on it. Here’s a quick and very easy way to make your own peanut butter for Pesach. Because it’s a healthy version, with no additives, you may even want to make it during the year…

KFP Peanut Butter

KFP Peanut Butter

Hummus Chocolate Cake? Yes it is, and good for Pesach

A few months ago, I read a recipe for a flourless chocolate cake on the wonderful Seattle Foodshed blog. I bookmarked it, and decided that Pesach was the perfect time to try it out, as for kitniot eaters, it’s completely KFP and parev to boot. And who would have thought that a cake that’s Kosher for Pesach and made from hummus would originate in the US? So with a few days left of Pesach, I have to share this with you.

I just baked it, and it’s a hit. My kids piled into it, and were shocked when I revealed to them that it’s made with hummus beans instead of flour. My husband asked where the matbucha was…I will definitely make this cake again for Pesach. It turns out like a brownie cake, so you can also make it as bars, and serving it with ice cream would not be a tragedy. As I was writing this recipe, I realized I had forgotten to add the baking powder, but it came out fine!! So if you can’t find KFP baking powder, you can leave it out. Now I will have to bake this again to see what it turns out like WITH baking powder!

I will share this recipe with you here as well, but do visit the Seattle Foodshed blog, as there are also lots of good, healthy recipes there that are worth checking out, and the pictures are great.

HUMMUS CHOCOLATE CAKE FOR PESACH (KITNIYOT) 

Hummus Cake for Pesach

Ingredients 

1½ cups chocolate chips or 200g dark chocolate pieces

4 eggs

1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

How to do it

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F)

2. In a food processor, mix the chick peas and eggs until smooth. Add the vanilla, sugar and baking powder (if you can’t find baking powder that’s KFP, leave it out) and pulse till combined

3. Melt the chocolate over boiling water (double boiler).  Add the melted chocolate to the cake mix and combine.

4. Line a 22cm (9 inch) baking tin with baking paper and grease. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 35-40 minutes.

Pesach Chicken that Tastes Great

I love checking out the supermarkets just before Pesach to see what new products are KFP for the year. This year, I was very excited to see that sweet chili sauce was kosher for Pesach (kitnoyot). So for those of you who do eat kitniyot on Pesach, I came up with a great recipe for crispy chicken in a sweet Asian sauce that you will want to make all year round. I made it last night for supper and my kids couldn’t stop eating it.

I based the method on Bill Granger’s sticky wings recipe I posted a while back. Back then, I promised to experiment with other pieces of the chicken, so this time, I used legs and thighs as well. The result: This wonderful method, which cuts out tons of fat, works just as well with other parts of the chicken.

Kosher for Pesach Sticky Asian Chicken

SWEET ASIAN CHICKEN PIECES

Ingredients 

6 chicken thighs

6 chicken legs

About 10 chicken wings

2-3 tablespoons oil

4 cloves of garlic roughly chopped

1 small green chili finely chopped

About 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

1 cup sweet chili sauce

½ cup apple juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (during the year, you can use rice wine vinegar instead)

½ teaspoon salt (during the year use ¼ cup soy sauce instead of the salt)

How to do it

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

2. Line a large roasting pan with baking paper and place the chicken pieces evenly on the tray. Roast chicken for 40-50 minutes, until it’s golden in color. Remove the chicken and transfer the pieces onto a clean tray lined with baking paper. (You can also just pour the fat off and reuse the pan, but I found it easier to just transfer the chicken into a clean pan and let the fat cool for easier disposal – never pour hot oil down the sink as it clogs the drain.)

3. While the chicken is cooking, in a saucepan, heat the oil and cook the garlic, ginger and chili it’s all soft (about 2-3 minutes). Add the sweet chili sauce, apple juice, vinegar and salt. Stir together, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cook over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes.

4. Pour the sauce over the chicken pieces, turning them to make sure they’re all coated, and return to the oven. Cook for another 30-40 minutes or until the chicken pieces start getting dark and sticky. Turn the chicken every 10-15 minutes for even color.

Serves about 6-8. You can serve with extra sweet chili sauce if the pieces are a little dry.

Recipes for Pesach – Part VI

My final post before I go off on vacation before the chag! I hope I’ve managed to give you an assortment of recipes that will add a little spice and variety to your Pesach menus. Here are a few more recipes for you, and with this, I will sign off until after Pesach. I wish you all a “pesach kasher ve’sameach” (a kosher and happy Passover), and I also wish you all easy cleaning and fun cooking. Don’t forget to put your feet up as well, because after you’ve made all the delicious food that will delight your family and friends, you will really deserve it.

Easy Roasted Onion and Lettuce Salad

Easy Roasted Red Onion and Lettuce Salad– When you’ve been toiling all day in the kitchen making all that seder food, the last thing you want to do is slave over a salad. How about this easy stand-by? You can roast the onions in advance, and throw it all together in minutes. You will want to double this recipe if you’re having a big crowd.

Quiche for Pesach– When I make this quiche during the year, I use a butter crust. For Pesach, here’s an alternative that is very delicious, but does require more work (which is why I don’t make it very often, but once a year, I will.) It’s from the wonderful Moosewood Cookbook, and stands the test of time. While the crust has to be completely different to be kosher for Pesach, the filling is virtually the same as usual, only using potato flour instead of regular flour. Seeing as you’ll be working a little harder on the crust, you may want to opt for one of the easier fillings…

Upside-Down Lemon Meringue Cake

Upside-Down Lemon Meringue Cake for Pesach– The first time I made this I was so excited because I saw that it could also work for Pesach with no adaptations and it can be made parev. This is one of my favorite desserts for any time of year, so being able to serve in at a Seder table is a huge bonus. Watch your guests gasp with delight when you bring this onto the table. It will give them the strength to make it to Chad Gadyah with ease.

Recipes for Pesach – Part V

What to serve with those delicious briskets and other meat dishes? Here are a few great side-dishes, which need virtually no KFP adaptations, so you know they’ll be delicious.  I love KFP dishes that just happen to be KFP and don’t need to be adjusted for the occasion. These dishes won’t make you feel like you’re compromising on your cooking as they taste as the should all year round.

Ratatouille works for Pesach – Here’s the perfect side dish for Pesach – ratatouille has only KFP ingredients, is parev, tastes good and looks really colorful. Say no more!

Ratatouille

Roast Potatoes Perfect for Pesach – What would we do without potatoes on Pesach? I imagine we’d starve! So don’t forget this easy and basic recipe for roast potatoes that will make everyone forget it’s Pesach.

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage for Pesach – My Seders are usually a homage to Ashkenazi “cuisine”. This side dish is the perfect accompaniment to anything Ashkenazi. It’s cabbage – say no more! And it’s the perfect side dish for your brisket.

Recipes for Pesach – Part IV

Here are a few more to add to your list for the coming chag…

Kosher for Pesach EnchiladasKitniyot Only – Here’s a fun dairy, kitniyot recipe that my husband developed over the years. It’s my favorite mid-week Pesach meal, and I make sure we have it every year because it’s really yummy (and I get to put my feet up while the hubby works in the kitchen). I am sure that Mexicans would scoff at the bastardization of this wonderful dish, but when it comes to Pesach, anything that can be made kosher is fair game.

KFP Peanut Butter

Home Made Peanut Butter for Pesach –  In my house, peanut butter is a staple, and no chag is going to force us to give up on it. Here’s a quick and very easy way to make your own peanut butter for Pesach. Because it’s a healthy version, with no additives, you may even want to make it during the year…

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce for Pesach – A great dish to put on your Seder table for the kids who don’t like brisket! It’s really similar to my regular recipe, but made without bread crumbs, and using matza meal instead. Easy and delicious.

Recipes for Pesach – Part III

Desserts are generally the biggest challenge to make kosher for Pesach. Over the years, I have found some reliable recipes that taste good and aren’t terribly difficult to make. In general, kosher for Pesach dessert require lots of eggs, a lot of whisking of egg whites, and as a result, the use of multiple bowls. It’s hard to avoid and part of the process, so just make sure you have enough bowls to use. Most importantly, all these desserts are parev.

Coconut Mounds – Pesach isn’t Pesach without coconut cookies. In my childhood, coconut macaroons (which is what we called them even though they really weren’t macaroons) were one of the few confectionaries to be found kosher for Pesach in South Africa, so this is a real childhood taste. When I first made this recipe, I was sure it would be disastrous because it just seemed way too easy. I was wrong. They are delicious and crazy easy, so do make them with your kids. 

Apple Squares for Pesach – This is a regular on my Seder dessert table. It’s easy to make, tastes good and isn’t overly sweet. And of course, it’s parev, so works on many levels. There’s nothing like fruit to cover the taste of the kosher for Pesach “flours”!

Chocolate Roll For Pesach – Here’s a fun dessert that’s versatile, tastes good and looks good. Have fun with fillings of your choice. I offer two options, but you can get creative and add whatever you and your family like.

Recipes for Pesach – Part II

As the count-down continues, here are a few more recipes to add to your list of Pesach dishes. Today I have a mixed bag for you: Meat, dairy and parev! The meat is brisket, the dairy is a gnocchi dish and the parev is a show-stopping chocolate truffle cake.

Brisket with potatoes and carrots

Brisket –  Because how can you have a Seder without brisket (or at least that’s the rule in my house).

Spinach Gnocchi – This is a really fun KFP gnocchi dish that really works and tastes good. It’s great for a mid-week meal when you’re done with Seder leftovers and don’t have room for another morsel of brisket!

Chocolate Truffle Cake – This is a most incredible cake, which I adapted from the hametz version with relative ease. For chocolate lovers, this cake is a dream. It’s really rich so can serve a lot of eaters, and because it’s parev, it’s a great Seder dessert option. You can also make this ahead of time and freeze it.

Tzimmes – the Heart of the Seder Table

At the heart of every Seder in my family sits a large carrot tzimmes.

Every year, I take out the fading pieces of fax paper (remember that?), which my late mother sent me in 1994 from South Africa, with her recipes for tzimmes. I tear up every time I read her wishes to me for Pesach from far off South Africa. For me, the sweetness of this dish is the sweetness of my late mother, who would make this tzimmes every year and for every chag, with great love. While we would eat this all year round, it was mandatory fare for Pesach.

She wasn't making tzimmes in this picture, but it's a great shot of my mother in action - she always pursed her lips when she was concentrating. (Taken in 1979)

Tzimmes actually means an ado or an uproar in Yiddish, but in the kitchen it refers to pretty much any sweet casserole of vegetables, fruit, and even meat. But almost every family of Eastern European decent has its own version, using various combinations of carrots, potatoes, prunes, sweet potatoes, and more. Our traditional family recipe involves cooked sweet carrots with a kneidel mixture on the inside. In addition, we also make what’s know as Flaumen Tzimmes, which is potatoes cooked with prunes (flaumen in Yiddish) – delish!!! I have adapted both recipes – I add sweet potatoes and regular potatoes to my carrot tzimmes, my sister-in-law Ruth’s contribution; and while I haven’t messed with the wonderful Flaumen Tzimmes recipe’s ingredients, I have adopted an overnight slow cooked method (not necessarily requiring a slow cooker), which results in the most amazingly moist and flavorful potatoes, into which the sauce has completely permeated.

So of course I will share both recipes with you.

LIPSCHITZ FAMILY CARROT TZIMMES

Ingredients 

Carrot tzimmes

Vegetable Mixture

About 1½ kg (3½ lb) carrots peeled and evenly sliced

2 sweet potatoes peeled, halved down the middle and cut into slices

2 large potatoes peeled, quartered length-ways and cut into slices

3 tablespoons potato flour

About ¼-½ cup honey or silan – date honey (I don’t measure this one – I just pour! Add more if you prefer it sweeter and less if you don’t – it will taste good no matter what.)

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger powder

2 tablespoons oil

Salt and pepper

Oil for greasing the dish

Kneidel Mixture

4 beaten eggs

4 tablespoons margarine

1 1/3 cup boiling water

½ teaspoon KFP baking powder (if you can get it – can be left out if you can’t)

A pinch of cinnamon and ground ginger

Salt and pepper

Very roughly 150 g (5 oz) matza meal (see how to do it #5)

How to do it

1. Cook the carrots in a large pot of water until soft. Remove the carrots with a slotted spoon and cook the potatoes in the same water for about 30 minutes or until cooked through (or in a separate pot if you don’t mind the extra wash up). Once they are done, remove with a slotted spoon and cook the sweet potatoes. Note: I cook them separately to make sure they are all properly cooked in their own time, as each of these vegetables cooks at a different speed. You can of course cook them in separate pots all at once.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C (375°F).

3. Drain all the vegetables and mix together in the large pot. In a small dish, mix the potato flour with a little water to make a runny,smooth mixture, and add it to the vegetables and mix. Add the honey/silan, cinnamon, ginger, oil, salt and pepper and mix together.

4. Grease a deep baking dish with oil. Pour about two thirds of the vegetables into the dish and make a well in the center, bringing the carrots up the sides of the dish, almost to the top.

5. Make the kneidel mixture: Beat the beaten eggs, margarine and boiling water together until the margarine is melted. Add the cinnamon, ginger, salt and pepper and beat. Then SLOWLY, stir in the matza meal with a spoon until you reach a runny consistency (the mixture should slowly, but not too slowly, pour off the spoon.) Pour the kneidel mixture into the vegetable well in the dish. Cover the kneidel with the remaining vegetables.

6. Bake covered for 30 minutes and then uncovered for another 30 minutes (I use a Pyrex dish and cover, and leave the cover on throughout the baking process). When the carrots start browning remove from the oven – don’t let burn.

Serves…a lot! Can be made in advance and reheated.

FLAUMEN TZIMMES

Ingredients

16-20 medium-sized potatoes, peeled (work on about 2 per person with a few extra “for the pot”)

1 large onion peeled and sliced

3 tablespoons onion soup powder (if you can’t get KFP onion soup powder, add an extra tablespoon of chicken soup powder and add an extra onion)

2 tablespoons chicken soup powder

1 bottle of Coke (yes, I know…not an original shtetl recipe…)

2 teaspoons ginger powder

Salt and pepper

About 15 dried, pitted prunes (more if you want)

3 tablespoons honey, silan (date honey) or sugar

How to do it

1. Pre-heat the oven to 100°C (210°F)

2. In a large oven proof pot, fry the onions until soft. Add all the rest of the ingredients, making sure the liquid covers the potatoes. If not, top it up with water. Cover, bring to the boil and reduce the heat, letting the potatoes simmer for about 30 minutes. While the mixture is simmering, take strips of foil and line the rim of the lid to create a strong seal on the pot. Return the lid to the pot, making sure it’s properly closed.

3. Place the pot in the oven, and leave it overnight (at least 12 hours).

Slow cooker option: If you want to cook these in a slow cooker, fry the onions in a pan, and then add them with all of the other ingredients to your slow cooker, and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Serves about 8. Prepare to overeat!!