Throughout the year, a common Shabbat side dish might be butternut squash pies made with store-bought crusts laden with shortening. A dessert might be I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-cream-cheese cheesecake. Chicken might be smothered in duck sauce (what sauce? You mean sugar and cornstarch?) or barbeque sauce (a.k.a. molasses, vinegar and cornstarch).
On Pesach, those very same people might find themselves making the freshest, simplest and most delightful dishes: Light salads with freshly squeezed lemon juice, chicken soup with healthy chunks of parsnip and kabocha squash, avocado blended in salad dressings to create creaminess in place of mayonnaise, and fruit-based desserts. There is something beautiful about simple food, a mouthful of nature unto itself.
This type of eating doesn’t have to be limited to Pesach, or even just to spring. There’s a real beauty to eating seasonally. Imagine the feeling of having waited almost a year to finally eat a peach, or even a gorgeous, red, vine-ripened tomato. Throughout the winter, tomatoes are terrible and anemic-looking, yet people keep buying them and eating them like there’s no other produce to eat in the country. You can go ahead and eat tomatoes if they mean that much to you, but realize that they’ve probably traveled a long distance, which means they were picked while still green.
When fruits and vegetables are picked too early, they don’t get a chance to reach their potential — whether in nutrients or in taste. Compared to out-of-season imported fruit, local summer tomatoes are not only a flavor explosion, they’re also better for you. The recipes I’ve shared below use only seasonal spring produce. If you try to shop locally as much as possible, you’re also avoiding the extra costs of importing, you’re supporting your own country’s economy, you’re supporting local farmers (and, yes, you’re helping lessen pollution and reliance on Middle Eastern oil).
Use this opportunity to bring vegetables back into your diet in a wholesome and simple way. Instead of pumpkin pie made from canned pumpkin, baked in store-bought crusts, try basic pumpkin slices drizzled with a little olive oil and tamari, and roasted with sesame seeds. And when it comes to creating new dishes, remember: gorgeous, fresh, seasonal vegetables will speak for themselves.
Recipes published in JOY of KOSHER with Jamie Geller Magazine Passover 2013 SUBSCRIBE NOW
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