Theres no way to miss chametz with springs wonderful bounty

I know some people grumble about keeping kosher for Passover for the entire week. They “miss out” on pasta, pizza, bread, muffins, pastries, pancakes and oatmeal, and often attempt to substitute the above with awful-tasting products made from matzah meal. I’m the first to agree that matzah isn’t delicious, but eating matzah is a way to link ourselves to Jews all over the world.

The eating of matzah and the foregoing of chametz for eight short days seem a small sacrifice for Jews, especially us, who have so much liberty. Not only does this holiday makes us appreciate freedom, but the matzah also represents the “bread of the poor,” a way to remind us of the poor of the world and remind us that they are not forgotten.

Currently, the suffering of the people of Tibet and of Darfur at the hands of the Chinese government is on our minds, as the Olympic torch recently passed through San Francisco. Perhaps the most important reason to eat matzah is as a reinforcement of our own freedom — of speech, of religion and from hunger.

Rather than focusing on what we can’t eat, I revel instead in all the luscious foods that are available to us at this time of year — asparagus, radishes, strawberries, green garlic, fresh carrots and artichokes. There’s plenty to eat, baruch HaShem, and all of it delicious.

Green Garlic Soup

Serves 6

1 lb. green garlic

4 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 lb. potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tsp. fine sea salt

1 tsp. black pepper

6 cups vegetable stock

Cut the darkest green leafy parts of the green garlic, leaving the white and pale and medium green parts. Cut each garlic in half lengthwise, and chop finely.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over moderate heat. Add the chopped garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes to soften. Add the potatoes, salt and pepper, and mix well. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the potatoes are tender enough to mash with a wooden spoon, about 25-35 minutes.

Mash the potatoes into the broth, or puree in a food processor or blender. Serve warm.

Roasted Spring Asparagus with Lemon Zest

Serves 6-8

2 lbs. asparagus, peeled and trimmed

4 Tbs. olive oil

2 tsp. coarse sea salt

1 tsp. black pepper

zest from 1 lemon

Toss the asparagus with the olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon zest. Roast in a 425-degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Marinated Artichokes with Mint

Serves 6

3 cups water

6 oz. fresh lemon juice

1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. fine sea salt

1 bay leaf

1⁄2 tsp. whole coriander seed

4 medium artichokes

1 Tbs. chopped mint

Place the water, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, bay leaf and coriander seed in a large pot. Remove the tops and stems from the artichokes as well as the outer leaves. Cut each artichoke into quarters, and remove the choke (the furry part) and drop each quarter into the pot as you go — this prevents them from discoloring.

Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the artichokes are tender, about 7 or 8 minutes. The artichokes should be tender, but not too soft — they continue to cook as they cool. Once the artichokes are cool, remove them from the cooking liquid and toss with the chopped mint. Serve at room temperature.

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