Cook | Amp up the flavors for exciting holiday dishes

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This is the time of year I begin to think about what I want to serve my family for Passover, during the seders and throughout the holiday. While I make plenty of traditional kugels and potato dishes, I’m always on the lookout for new recipes using fresh, unprocessed foods.

Side dishes are particularly challenging. We like ours full of flavor. With restrictions on some favorite seasonings during Passover, I amp up the taste with ingredients such as the poblano chilies in the Cauliflower Matzah Bake and the parsnips in the Apple and Vegetable Cobbler.

If your tradition allows for using cumin during Pesach, try adding 1⁄4 tsp. of ground cumin to the cauliflower dish when you add the other spices. For a simpler version of the apple and vegetable dish, skip the dumpling topping.


Cauliflower Matzah Bake

Serves 6-8

4 cups vegetable stock, divided

4 sheets matzah, broken into eighths

1 large head cauliflower

3 Tbs. oil, divided, plus extra for baking pan

2 cups chopped onion

1 tsp. minced garlic

1⁄2 cup chopped fresh green poblano chili pepper (see note)

1⁄4 tsp. salt

1⁄4 tsp. ground black pepper

1⁄4 tsp. paprika, optional

2 Tbs. minced flat leaf parsley

Heat 2 cups of the stock. Pour over matzahs in a bowl. Mix occasionally until matzah has absorbed all the liquid. Trim and core the cauliflower. Cut the rest into bite-size pieces (about 5-6 cups).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil an 8×12-inch baking pan. Heat 2 Tbs. oil in large fry pan over medium-high heat. Sauté onions until beginning to soften, add garlic. Sauté until golden. Add chili pepper. Sauté until beginning to soften. Add salt, black pepper and cauliflower. Mix well. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower begins to brown.

Add 1 cup stock, cover pan and lower heat to simmer. Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is almost cooked. Remove from heat. Mix with matzah and remaining stock. Taste and correct seasonings. Put into baking pan. Drizzle with 1 Tbs. oil, sprinkle with paprika. Bake 50 minutes until browned and somewhat firm. Garnish with parsley.

Note: Poblano peppers are sometimes labeled pasilla chilies. (A true pasilla is a dried chili). Bell pepper is a milder substitute.


Apple and Vegetable Cobbler

Serves 8

oil for baking pan

3 medium Granny Smith apples

2 large orange yams or sweet potatoes

1 cup orange juice

2 medium parsnips

1 small onion

1⁄4 tsp. salt

1⁄4 tsp. ground black pepper

1⁄4 tsp. cinnamon

dumpling batter (see below)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a 10×14-inch baking pan. Scrub or peel apples and yams. Core apples and cut into thin rings. Toss with juice. Cut yams into thin slices. Peel and cut parsnips into thin slices. Peel and cut onion into very thin slices and separate rings.

Mix salt, pepper and cinnamon. Place half of the yams in a layer in pan. Cover with half the onions, then half the parsnips and half the apples. Sprinkle with a third of the spice mix. Repeat. Pour in remaining juice. Sprinkle with remaining spice mix.

Cover with foil. Bake 50 minutes until the vegetables are almost cooked through. Remove from oven. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Place large spoonfuls of batter across top. Bake uncovered for 50-60 minutes until dumplings are cooked and vegetables are very soft.

Dumpling batter: Combine 2 cups matzah meal, 1 cup water, 1⁄2 cup oil,

8 beaten eggs, 1⁄4 tsp. salt, 1⁄4 tsp. ground black pepper, 1 tsp. sugar and 1⁄8 tsp. cinnamon. Mix well.

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Louise Fiszer. She blogs at Contact her at [email protected].

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is Contact her at [email protected].