Go meat-free on Pesach

In the past few weeks leading up to Pesach, I’ve received several requests for vegetarian dishes that would be appropriate to serve during Passover. The following dishes are not only delicious, they are also meat and chametz-free. Any of them can be the “main event” for a weeknight meal, even prepared the night before and reheated the next day.

Wild Mushroom and Potato Kugel | Serves 8

1 oz. dried wild mushrooms
1 cup hot water
4 Tbs. olive oil
2 small onions, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbs. chopped parsley
3 lbs. baking potatoes, peeled and shredded
3 eggs, beaten
2 Tbs. olive oil
Soak the dried mushrooms in the hot water for about 1 hour, or until soft. Drain, rinse and chop, reserving the soaking liquid.
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and sauté until crisp and brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. To the same skillet, add the chopped mushrooms, garlic and the reserved mushroom soaking liquid. Sauté over high heat, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the salt, pepper and parsley.
Rinse the shredded potatoes in plenty of cold water, drain and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Combine the potatoes, beaten eggs, onions and plenty of salt and pepper.
Oil a baking dish with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and place in a preheated 400-degree oven for 10 minutes, to heat the oil. Place half of the potato mixture in the baking dish, spread the mushrooms over that, then cover with the remaining potato mixture. Bake for about 1 hour, or until the top is browned. Let the kugel cool for 20 minutes before serving.

Asparagus Soup | Serves 8

8 cups vegetable stock
2 lbs. asparagus, rinsed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 lb. baking potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 leeks (whites only), cleaned and sliced
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 egg yolk
1 cup crème frâiche or heavy cream
In the soup pot, bring stock to a boil, and add asparagus, potatoes, leeks and onion. Simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Puree the soup in a food processor or blender and pass through a food mill or sieve to remove all the fibers. Return to the pot.
Beat the egg yolk and cream together in a bowl and stir the cream mixture into the soup. Check for seasoning. Reheat gently to serve.

Baked Zucchini with Cheese | Serves 8

2 lbs. zucchini, cleaned and sliced lengthwise into fourths
6 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
4 Tbs. chopped flat leaf parsley
1 lb. canned tomatoes, chopped
fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup milk
12 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4-inch thick
Brush a baking sheet with oil, spread the zucchini on top of the sheet, and brush with a little oil. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven until zucchini is soft — about 15 minutes.
In a skillet, heat the remaining olive oil; sauté the onion five minutes. Add the parsley, tomatoes with the juice and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over a low heat about 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened. In a bowl, beat the eggs and combine with the grated cheese and milk.
Spread a little of the tomato sauce over the bottom of the dish. Cover the tomato sauce with a layer of zucchini, cover the zucchini with mozzarella, then spread tomato sauce over the mozzarella. Repeat until ingredients have been used, ending with tomato sauce. Pour the milk mixture over all.
Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven 30 minutes. Allow to rest 15 minutes before serving.

Rebecca Ets-Hokin is a certified culinary professional. Visit her Web site at www.GoRebecca.com. She can be reached at [email protected].