It may sound impossible, but believe it or not, you can survive a whole week of Passover without eating a single potato. And you don’t even have to eat much matzo, either. This is what Aviva Kanoff is out to prove it in her new cookbook, “The No-Potato Passover.”
The book is a helpful and attractive guide for those of us looking to cook light, healthy and easy-to-prepare meals over the holiday. In fact, many of Kanoff’s recipes are appropriate for healthy (kosher) eating year-round.
Although almost all of the book’s recipes would look delicious to anyone, it definitely helps to be predisposed to liking quinoa and spaghetti squash. These two items figure prominently among Kanoff’s dishes, as do a few other key ingredients, like almond milk and ground walnuts and almonds — all flavorful substitutes for either less healthy traditional Passover foods or ones forbidden on Passover all together.
Some of the recipes call for imitation mustard and soy sauce (both not eaten on Passover). In those cases, we are left wondering not only whether cooks living outside large Jewish metropolitan areas might have a hard time finding these, but also whether the imitation products really cut the mustard, so to speak. “Kosher By Design” celebrity kosher chef Susie Fishbein has said that “The flavors are so off, they’re not worth working with.”
Few of Kanoff’s recipes, inspired by her world travels, break new culinary ground, but what makes them appealing are the fresh ingredients they call for, as well as Kanoff’s simple and straightforward preparation instructions. They are perfect for those of us wanting to make a colorful and taste-full impression without having to spend hours chained to the stove. Indeed, the author herself closes her introduction with: “…In regards to being trapped in the kitchen…Passover is about being free from slavery; being enslaved in the kitchen would not be in the spirit of the holiday.”
Kanoff offers 83 appealing recipes for soups, salads, sides, meats, poultry, dairy and pareve dishes (vegetarian and fish), and desserts, but very little about herself in the bio that appears on the last page. A little research reveals that she is a 29-year-old graduate of the French Culinary Institute and a personal chef and kosher caterer in New York, as well as a photographer. She took almost all of the excellent travel and food photographs that appear in the book. It is a shame that she does not include any anecdotes about her travels and their relationship to her recipes in her cookbook, which she has subtitled, “a journey of food, travel and color.”
I’m already thinking about the multi-course no-potato Passover meal I am going to prepare using some of Kanoff’s more interesting and unusual recipes. It’s going to include her golden ruby beet salad, mushroom spinach quinoa, pomegranate brisket, lavender mint roasted chicken, Moroccan baked salmon, and Viennese crunch for dessert.
Lavender Mint Roasted Chicken
From “The No-Potato Passover”
One 3-pound whole chicken
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons mint
2 tablespoons lavender
¼ cup white wine
1) Preheat oven to 400°.
2) Place chickens in a large roasting tin on top of diced onions.
3) Rub chickens with olive oil, wine, honey, spices, and herbs.
4) Cover and bake for 1½ hours.
From “The No-Potato Passover”
1 cup matzoh cake meal
¼ teaspoon salt
12 ounces chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts, any kind
1 cup margarine
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1 cup sugar
1) Preheat oven to 350°.
2) Put margarine in a bowl and beat on medium speed, adding sugar slowly, until the
mixture has a creamy texture. Add the sugar, egg, coffee, cake meal, and salt.
3) Spread mixture onto a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes.
4) Remove from oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips on top, spreading them as they
5) Sprinkle nuts on top of chocolate
6) Cut into squares while warm.