Susie Fishbein says that during Passover, people are not celebrating the food, but the togetherness of families.
And why not celebrate by spicing up your traditional matzo meal?
The kosher food expert has just come out with her new cookbook Kosher by Design-Short on Time, Fabulous Food Faster just in time for Passover.
“Being a working mom with four kids makes me short on time. I’m travelling around the country and hearing from people ‘give us something faster’ because most people don’t have the time to cook but they don’t want to (short-change) their families,” Fishbein says.
During Passover, Jews cannot eat anything that is leaven – in other words, no foods with yeast, baking powder or any other substance that would cause fermentation and the expansion of dough.
Just as important, Jews are forbidden to eat anything that has chametz (fermented grain products such as bread, cake, pasta and cookies.)
Instead, they eat matzo, a flat, crispy unleavened bread that doesn’t rise – much like a cracker.
Rabbi Spalter, at the Lubavitch Youth Organization in Thornhill, says that during the seder, a ritual that takes place on the first and second nights of Passover, Jews should eat bitter herbs. “It reminds us of the bitterness of how the slaves suffered in Egypt. We eat matzo because when the Jews were leaving Egypt they left in a rush and didn’t have time to allow the dough to rise so they baked their crackers.”
However, Fishbein still wants people to eat well during Passover, even though they are not allowed to eat leaven bread. One of her easy-to-cook recipes is a salmon primavera with tomatoes, zucchini and squash. “It is a gorgeous, colourful food for spring,” she says, adding that it only takes 10 minutes to prepare.
Other mouth-watering dishes include tomato basil chicken, potato-crusted snapper with mushroom sauce and whole grain matzo pilaf, which makes a healthy side dish.
If, however, you are looking for a more upscale dinner, Fishbein suggests a braised rib roast with tomatoes, which make a beautiful counter piece. Asparagus and horseradish are perfect light side dishes to finish off the evening.