Monday, October 14, 2019 -
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Pesto, pecans…

We all have our Passover culinary traditions. Subconsciously, I think one was created here in this column when it seems, as Passover rolls around (ooh, pardon that pun!), I write a food column.

Not one to break with tradition, I shall oblige you.

But instead of a nostalgic food memory column, this year I shall be pragmatic.

We all have our food quirks on Passover. I am no exception.

A column on that would probably turn into a megillah.

But one thing I’ve noticed these past few years is my tendency to cook and prepare about 10 or a dozen or so basic foods or sauces I keep on hand in bulk, which is a lot of work initially, but then once the holiday commences and with all the visiting relatives and countless meals, it makes things a lot easier.

In addition to stocking the freezer with soups, pastries and meats (on a good year when I am very organized!), here are some of the foods I prepare in bulk:

Pesto. It keeps well in the fridge or freezer and it a terrific and healthy condiment. Want to jazz up soup or potatoes? Reach into the fridge and, presto, it’s already prepared, pesto. Want a savory and flavorful spread on matzah? Pesto. To add a garden fresh flavor to a salad dressing? There you go again, pesto.

Caramelized almonds or pecans. It’s true the caramelization process, especially in bulk, can be a pain. But once you have them on hand in a canister at room temperature, or in the freezer, they are a good addition. Good for plain old snacking. A nice addition to sprinkle onto a fruity lettuce salad, or to blend into a glassy caramel nut dust to sprinkle and add a certain je ne sais quois to those starchy desserts.

Compote. I cut up and eat and serve a lot of fresh fruit on Passover. It is the tastiest, healthiest dessert and snack around. But I also simmer a huge pot of cut-up apples, maybe add some pears or rhubarb, depending on the time of year; but a plain apple compote is always delicious. It is another good and pretty healthy snack, or a refreshing dessert at the end of a heavy food laden seder meal. And it is perfect in the morning on yogurt. Which leads me to my next item:

Granola. Simmer a syrup of oil, honey and brown sugar. Coat matzah farfel in it. Add spices and bake it, turning from time to time so it doesn’t burn, and when it comes out of the oven sprinkle on some chopped dried fruit of your choice. Voila, you’ve got one more thing to sprinkle on your morning yogurt, or cereal for the children. And again, a terrific snack that is always welcome and good to take on day trips, too.

Chrein, or horseradish. If this is not the perfect time of year to prepare your very own homemade chrein then I don’t know when is. It is easy, and pretty healthy. Aside from using it as the expected accompaniment for the multiple gefilte fish courses, it can be good in a salad dressing or also as a spread on matzah. Just be sure to make a huge quantity so you will continue gracing your Shabbat table with your homemade horseradish.

Oh, and if you are preparing the condiment close to the holiday, be sure and use rubber gloves if you want to avoid attending synagogue with purple hands.

Cranberry sauce. It’s not only the perfect condiment for Thanksgiving. It’s good for Passover too. My mother got us into this tradition, and we look forward to it each year. It’s perfect relish alongside a brisket or London broil, or just to have around.

Caramelized onions, the basis for so many of the dishes you will be preparing. Instead of sighing every time you need to cut up and saute yet another onion, do it all at once. Make two batches, slicing some onions long and dicing others. They are terrific to have on hand to spread on matzah as well.

Eier lukshen. Nothing beats a fresh soft batch of lukshen crepes rolled like cigars and sliced into ribbons, with a schmear of sour cream. By all means, be sure to fry up at least one or two fresh batches at some point on the holiday itself. But those soup noodles do freeze well. Just defrost a batch in the fridge a day in advance, and you are set. Just add them to the soup.

I’m crazy and make my own mayonnaise. It takes some time, as you need to whisk the oil extremely slowly, but it’s worth it. Try it.

Some years I have added jars of lemon curd to the mix or fruit jam, but the above list contains the basics, there each year, convenient and good.

Try it! Enjoy!

Copyright © 2015 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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