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Passover and the Healthy Jewish Kitchen

March 20, 2018 | by Paula Shoyer

Celebrate Passover without all the fat, salt, sugar and processed heavy foods usually associated with this holiday.

This Passover, Paula Shoyer, best-selling author and frequent TV guest, is sharing delicious recipes that allow you to celebrate Passover without all the fat, salt, sugar and processed heavy foods usually associated with this holiday. Paula, an expert on Passover food, has published over 100 Passover dessert recipes and devoted her third book, The New Passover Menu, to this subject.

With over 80 recipes in her latest book, The Healthy Jewish Kitchen, including both Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jewish classics as well as American and international trends that extend beyond the Jewish culinary world, Paula has something for everyone.


Fish, Gluten-free, Passover (omit seeds not available for Passover) • Serves 6

This recipe started out as one thing and then turned into something else. My plan was to coat fresh salmon with the spices that are used to cure pastrami. I rubbed my spice mix on the fish and even then I noticed that it was not very black and pastrami-like. After letting the rub sit on the salmon for a while, I simply baked it in the oven. It was only when it was done, and I’d taken it out of the oven, that I realized I’d never added any oil to the fish or the pan! I served it anyway and it was flavorful and moist, without any fat, other than what was naturally in the fish. Feel free to add more black peppercorns to the spice mix if you want more kick.

PREP TIME: 5 minutes to make spice mix; marinate for 30 minutes • COOK TIME: 20 to 22 minutes

• ADVANCE PREP: Spice mix may be made 1 week in advance; fish may be cooked 1 day in advance •

EQUIPMENT: Measuring spoons, cutting board, knife, jelly roll pan, coffee grinder or food processor (or mortar and pestle, or quart resealable plastic bag and rolling pin), small bowl, spoon large plate

  • 3-pound (1.5-kg) salmon fillet, whole or cut into 6 8-ounce (250-g) servings
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon black or yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons juniper berries
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked or regular paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

• Place the coriander seeds, black peppercorns, mustard seeds, juniper berries, and fennel seeds into a coffee grinder or food processor and grind them into small pieces (making sure none are left whole), but not completely into a powder. If you use a food processor and some of the spices are still too big after processing, crush them using a mortar and pestle, or put them in a quart resealable plastic bag and then smash it with a rolling pin. Transfer the ground seeds, peppercorns, and the rest of the mixture into a small bowl. Add the brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cloves, and salt, and mix well.

• Spread the spice mix on a plate and press each slice of salmon into the mix to cover it completely. Use all the spice mix. Place the fish on a roasting pan, leaving space between the pieces. Let the fish sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, covered with plastic wrap, or refrigerate it if you will be cooking it later.

• Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Bake the salmon for 20 to 22 minutes, 20 minutes if you like it a little pink inside, longer if you want it fully cooked. Serve the fish hot or at room temperature.


Meat, Gluten-free, Passover • Serves 10 to 12

This recipe is inspired by Julia Child’s famous beef bourguignon recipe, which is featured in the film Julie and Julia. In that movie, Julia’s story is also my story: I was living in Europe with a diplomat husband and thought, “Why not? I’ll go to cooking school.” Then I started teaching cooking classes in my small European apartment, as Julia did. I came to book writing later, and, like Julia, it took some time to get that first book published. Even now, when I recall the scene in the film when she pulls the published book out of its packaging, I just want to cry for joy.

PREP TIME: 10 minutes • COOK TIME: 3 hours • ADVANCE PREP: May be made 3 days in advance or frozen

• EQUIPMENT: Paper towels, measuring cups and spoons, cutting board(s), knife, vegetable peeler, garlic press, large Dutch oven, tongs, plate, large roasting pan, aluminum foil, colander, carving knife, small saucepan, medium frying pan or saucepan, medium bowl, silicone spatula, fork

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 tablespoons potato starch
  • 5 pounds second-cut brisket, rinsed and dried very well with paper towels
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 onions, halved and cut into ½-inch (12-mm) slices
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeds removed and chopped into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) dry red wine
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 to 10 ounces (225 to 280g) pearl onions
  • 8 to 10 ounces (225 to 280g) button mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian flat parsley
  • Pinch salt

• Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle potato starch on both sides of the meat, shaking off any excess, and brown the meat in the pan on both sides until you see crispy parts on the meat, after about 8 minutes. Using a fork, transfer the meat to a plate.

• Reduce the heat to medium. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, carrots, and onions to the Dutch oven and cook them for 8 minutes over medium heat, stirring often. Add the tomatoes, garlic, thyme, and bay leaves and cook for 2 minutes. Place the meat in a large roasting pan. Add the wine and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the salt and pepper. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake the meat in the oven for 1½ hours.

• While the meat is cooking, prepare the pearl onions and mushrooms. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add the onions and cook them for 2 minutes. Drain off the water, and when the onions are cool enough the handle, snip off the ends and press the onions out of their skins.

• Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium frying or saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onions until they’re browned on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the onions to a medium bowl. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and cook the mushrooms over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, or until browned, stirring often. Add a pinch of salt. Add the mushrooms to the bowl with the onions.

• Remove the roasting pan from the oven and place the meat on a cutting board. Using a carving knife, slice it against the grain to make thin slices. Reduce the heat to 350°F (180°C). Return the slices to the pan and immerse them in the liquid. Cover and bake the meat for another hour. Add the mushrooms and onions to the sauce. Cover the pan and return it to the oven. Bake the meat, covered, for another half hour or longer, until it is soft when pierced with a fork. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper, if needed. Sprinkle the meat with parsley and serve.

Searing Meat:

Searing intensifies the flavor of meat. The moisture on the surface of the meat evaporates, and the creation of a caramelized crust results in more flavor compounds. After you place the meat into the hot pan, wait until the meat releases from the pan on its own, and then turn it over to sear the other side.


Parve, Gluten-free, Vegan, Passover • Serves 8

 This recipe uses three types of cabbage, but you can also substitute with arugula, slivered spinach leaves, or sliced fennel, or add half a shredded carrot for more color, if you like. The dressing can be used on any salad. Serve this coleslaw with Fish Tacos with Cilantro Lime Rice on page 68, the Grilled Steak with Everything Marinade on page 60, or the Baked Schnitzel with Nut Crust on page 55.

PREP TIME: 10 minutes • ADVANCE PREP: Dressing may be made 2 days in advance; salad may be made 1 day

in advance • EQUIPMENT: Vegetable peeler, cutting board, knife, measuring cups and spoons, citrus juicer, food processor, large bowl, tongs to toss the salad


  • 1 large ripe mango, peeled and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • Juice of 1 lime, about 2 to 3 tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons avocado, sunflower, or safflower oil
  • ½ cup (20g) loosely packed cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • ½ large green chili pepper, such as jalapeño
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper


  • 2 cups (200g) shredded red cabbage, about ½ small head
  • 2 cups (200g) shredded green cabbage, about ½ small head
  • 2 cups (200g) shredded Napa cabbage, about 1/3 head
  • 4 scallions, ends trimmed, sliced

• To make the dressing, place the mango, red onions, lime juice, vinegar, oil, cilantro, honey, chili pepper, salt, and black pepper into the bowl of a food processor. Process until puréed; it will be a yellow sauce with green specks.

• To make the salad, in a large bowl, place the shredded cabbages and scallions and toss. Add the mango dressing and mix well.

Chopping Onions

Trim the ends off the onion and cut it in half the long way. Peel off the skin. Place one half, cut side down, on a cutting board, with one end facing toward the tip of your knife. With your knife, cut slices into the onion lengthwise, in the width that you want, but do not slice all the way through the onion; keeping the onion par- tially intact on one end gives you stability in cutting. Make perpendicular cuts across the long slices all the way until your first cuts end.Turn the small piece of the onion around and then cut slices into that piece. Slice across that slice.

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