Let's Eat

Pesach meal ideas

Tips and tricks to keep everyone fed this week


Cauliflower couscous with dried cranberry, pomegranate, pistachio and pine nut

Pesach can feel like a culinary hamster wheel. It’s true that a week without pasta, bread and rice (unless you’re lucky enough to be following Sephardi rules) needs a little more thought, so here’s some inspiration for some quick, easy and tasty meals for the eight days:

Magic mornings:

If you’re bored of your breakfast matzah, try whizzing up a fruit smoothie from bags of berries and sliced bananas stored in your freezer. Or try roasting fruits: peel and core four ripe apples and the same number of ripe pears. Cut both into eighths, put them in an ovenproof dish with the juice and zest of a lemon and of three oranges plus zest from one of the oranges. Add a cinnamon stick, a drizzle of honey and a splash of water. Cover with foil and roast at 180°C for about 30 minutes or until the fruit is soft. Store in the fridge. Serve hot or room temperature with thick, creamy yoghurt.

Turn matzah brei into fritters with Amir Batito's delicious recipe twist. Or bake a batch of delicious matzah granola. It’s so much better than store bought versions. Layer it up with Greek yoghurt and fresh or roasted fruit or nosh from the jar.

Less laborious lunches (and dinners)

If the weather continues to behave like January, soup is a filling and warming answer. Make large batches and freeze them for fast meals.

One of my favourites is quick and comforting leek and sweet potato. Slice three leeks down the middle – from top to bottom and wash them well. Slice each half into 1–2 cm thick slices and sweat them in a soup pan, in olive oil over a medium-to-low heat (pan lid on) for about 10 minutes until soft. Dice two large, scrubbed but unpeeled sweet potatoes into 1cm cubes. Add these to the softened and slightly caramelised leeks, then pour over enough boiling vegetable stock to just cover. Put a lid on the pan and simmer until the sweet potato is soft – about 20 minutes, then blend until smooth. This will make a thick soup, so you could add more stock to thin it down a bit and stretch it out.

Roasted vegetables are another useful and flexible standby. At this time of year there are plenty of roots and other winter veg like sweet potatoes, parsnips, swede, red onions, butternut squash and carrots which, when roasted with garlic and thyme make a great base for a warm salad. Or pick a kosher-for-Pesach spice blend – shawarma mix adds a real flavour hit when generously sprinkled over oiled, seasoned veggies before roasting.

Serve your veggies piled on a bed of salad leaves, scatter with toasted nuts (pistachio nuts or flaked almond pair well with the shawarma-spiced ones) and top with grated cheese or crumbled feta. Dress with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice or silan (date syrup) or pomegranate molasses and you have a delicious lunch.

Garlic-roasted vegetables also make a delicious base for a frittata. Serve with crisp salad leaves and you have a light dinner or lunch. The frittata is also good at room temperature and handy for a packed lunch or picnic.

Cauliflower rice/couscous is the work of minutes, it’s super-nutritious and useful as a starchy side if you’re not Sephardi. Make it by washing and thoroughly drying the separated florets of a large cauliflower, then either blitzing it to a grain-like consistency in a food processor or simply grating it on a box grater.

Serve it raw, or cooked and cooled to make a great salad base. To cook either microwave it for five minutes on high power – no need to add water as it will release plenty of its own moisture. Or heat some olive oil in a frying pan and stir fry the cauliflower grains until tender. Serve hot or cold with chopped fresh herbs, toasted nuts and dried fruit. To take into lunch or dinner territory, flake in some smoked or poached fish or add shredded cooked chicken.

Try a few new dishes and every day will be a festival of flavour.

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