So GoodApr/May 2014 Issue

Passover Seder: A Gluten-Free, Allergy-Friendly Menu

A traditional Passover Seder menu can be daunting, especially when cooking for a crowd and managing various food sensitivities and allergies. Custom requires that the story of Passover be retold during the Seder but there’s no rule saying you have to fall over exhausted making a memorable holiday feast.

During Passover, a symbolic custom is to eat only unleavened bread (matzo) that represents what was eaten during the hasty exodus from slavery in Egypt to freedom. Many traditional Seder menus rely on dishes prepared with matzo, which is made from wheat.

Here we forge new traditions by reinventing Passover dishes to make them gluten-free, allergy-friendly—and easier. This menu also takes advantage of the abundance of spring vegetables and fruit to create a delicious dinner that’s lighter and healthier.

For the Seder’s traditional charoset, a nut-free version with apples, coconut and dried fruit is certain to become a new family favorite. Ingredients in the main dishes lean more toward Sephardic (Mediterranean) than Ashkenazic (eastern European) tradition, yet each takes into account the stricter Ashkenazic Passover dietary traditions. Recipes for double chocolate macaroons, lemon coconut Pavlova and lemon coconut sponge cake are healthy, modern updates on classic desserts.

This menu guarantees this year’s Seder will be particularly wholesome and delicious. It will also be memorable: Everyone at the table, including those with food sensitivities, can partake.


Photography by Tim Horel

Nut-Free Apple Coconut Charoset

SERVES 6 TO 8

Charoset typically contains chopped apples and nuts. This updated version is nut-free, made with a combination of fresh and dried fruit. It can be prepared one day ahead and refrigerated. For best flavor, serve at room temperature.

2 large red tart apples, diced into -inch cubes
cup dried figs, finely chopped (about 5 to 6)
cup whole dates, finely chopped (about 6)
cup dried apricots, finely chopped (about 10 to 12)
-Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tablespoon kirsch, red wine or orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh peeled ginger, grated or minced
teaspoon kosher salt

1. Place apples, figs, dates and apricots in a medium bowl. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, coconut, kirsch, honey, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Stir to combine.

Each serving contains 126 calories, 1g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 62mg sodium, 30g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 23g sugars, 1g protein, 13Est GL

Photography by Tim Horel

Braised Tarragon Lemon Chicken

SERVES 4 TO 6

Using chicken thighs helps keep the meat from drying out as it bakes in a low oven. Green olives are a favorite for this dish but pitted Kalamata olives taste great, too. This dish can be made up to two days ahead and refrigerated. Warm in a 250F oven for 60 minutes or until heated through.

4-6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (1 pounds)
-Zest of 1 small lemon
1 cups baby carrots
12-14 extra-large garlic-stuffed green olives, sliced in half
3-5 very small spring onions, cut in half
3 tablespoons rough-chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
-Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon fresh or dried tarragon
cup gluten-free vegetable broth or white wine
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (white preferred)
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 325F.

2. Place chicken thighs, lemon zest, carrots, olives, onions, parsley, salt, pepper and tarragon in a heavy-duty oven-safe pan with a lid. Add broth, vinegar and olive oil.

3. Cover pan and place in preheated oven. Bake 90 minutes. Serve warm.

Each serving contains 106 calories, 6g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 38mg cholesterol, 635mg sodium, 5g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 2g sugars, 9g protein, 1Est GL.

Short Ribs with Cinnamon and Garlic

SERVES 4 TO 6

Trim the short ribs before braising and you won’t have to skim much fat from the dish. It pairs well with Sweet Potato Gratin. This dish can be prepared up to two days in advance and refrigerated. Reheat in a 250F oven for 60 minutes or until heated through.

4-6 short ribs, fat trimmed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
-Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3-4 fresh garlic cloves
1 cup baby carrots
5-8 small cipollini whole onions, peeled
cup dried apricots
1 whole cinnamon stick
1 cups gluten-free vegetable broth or cup red wine + 1 cup vegetable broth
cup whole pitted green or Kalamata olives
teaspoon ground cloves
teaspoon fresh or dried thyme
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (dark preferred)

1. Preheat oven to 325F.

2. In a large heavy-duty oven-proof pan with a cover, brown short ribs in oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. Remove pan from heat and add garlic, carrots, onions, apricots, cinnamon stick, broth, olives, cloves, thyme and vinegar.

4. Cover pan and place in preheated oven. Bake 2 hours. Serve warm.

Each serving contains 300 calories, 18g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 53mg cholesterol, 573mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 9g sugars, 19g protein, 6Est GL.

Photography by Tim Horel

Sweet Potato Gratin

SERVES 6 TO 8

This side dish pairs perfectly with either chicken or short ribs. Simmering thin potato slices in spiced coconut milk imparts creamy flavor to this dairy-free gratin. It can be prepared one day ahead and refrigerated. Warm in a 250F oven for about 45 minutes or until heated through.

1-2 large sweet potatoes, peeled (1 pounds)
1 (13-ounce) can full fat coconut milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
teaspoon garlic powder
-Fresh thyme, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9x9-inch casserole dish.

2. Using a food processor or a hand grater, slice potatoes as thin as possible.

3. Whisk coconut milk, cinnamon, salt, pepper and garlic powder in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until just simmering. Place sliced potatoes into simmering liquid, cover the pan and turn heat to low. Cook 15 minutes. (Potatoes will not be fully cooked.)

4. Remove potato slices from saucepan and layer them in prepared casserole dish no more than -inch deep. Pour coconut milk mixture over potatoes.

5. Place dish in preheated oven and bake 55 to 60 minutes or until top is turning brown and potatoes are well cooked.

6. Remove from oven and let cool until liquid is absorbed. Top with fresh thyme. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Each serving contains 192 calories, 12g total fat, 10g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 266mg sodium, 20g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 2g sugars, 1g protein, 8Est GL.

Roasted Vegetables with Balsamic Vinegar

SERVES 4 TO 6

This eye-appealing side dish is flavorful and nutrient dense. It can be prepared ahead and refrigerated. Warm veggies in a 250F oven for about 35 minutes or until heated through.

4-8 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch asparagus tips (1 pound)
1-2 cups spring carrots (with some green top left on)
3-6 red or golden beets, cubed (1-inch)
1 red pepper, sliced
1 yellow pepper, sliced
4-5 small spring onions
1 teaspoon kosher salt
teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (dark preferred)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Place 4 tablespoons olive oil on 2 baking sheets (2 tablespoons oil for each baking sheet).

2. Group vegetables on prepared baking sheets, one layer deep, making sure different types of vegetables don’t touch one another. (Beets bleed color.) Drizzle remaining oil over vegetables and sprinkle them with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

3. Place in preheated oven and bake 30 to 40 minutes or until vegetables are cooked through and begin to caramelize.

4. Remove vegetables from oven and arrange them on a serving platter. Serve warm, drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

Each serving contains 141 calories, 10g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 374mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 7g sugars, 3g protein, 5Est GL.

Photography by Tim Horel

Spring Vegetable Strata

SERVES 4 TO 6

This is a dressy meat-free entre. Roasting the vegetables first gives them a delicious caramelized flavor. While strata is best when freshly baked, it can be prepared one day in advance and refrigerated. Warm it in a springform pan in a 250F oven for about 45 minutes or until heated through. This recipe serves 6 to 8 as a side dish. For best results, do not replace the eggs.

Vegetables

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large leek, sliced into rings
1 large red pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 large yellow pepper, cut into rings
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 bunch thin asparagus tips, trimmed (3-inches long)
teaspoon kosher salt
-Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
teaspoon garlic powder

Strata

2 cups (generous) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained thoroughly
4 extra-large eggs
cup gluten-free vegetable broth
teaspoon kosher salt
teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
teaspoon garlic powder
teaspoon fresh or dried thyme
-Zest of 1 small lemon

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Generously grease a large baking pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil.

2. Place leeks, peppers, mushrooms and asparagus on prepared pan, keeping them slightly separated. Drizzle remaining oil over vegetables and sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Place in preheated oven and roast 30 to 35 minutes. (Veggies can be roasted ahead and stored in the refrigerator, packed in individual containers until ready to assemble the strata.)

3. When it’s time to make the strata, preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper. Wrap the springform pan bottom and sides with a sheet of foil to catch any liquid that might leak. Place pan on a baking sheet.

4. Place drained spinach in the bottom of prepared pan, pressing to flatten into an even layer. Place roasted leek rings on top of spinach and gently press to fit. Add roasted red pepper strips in a wheel pattern and press gently into the leek layer. Place roasted mushrooms on top of red peppers, filling in the layer completely. Add roasted yellow pepper rings on top of mushrooms in an overlapping pattern. Place roasted asparagus tips on top of yellow peppers, pointing tips out in a wheel pattern. Fill it in with as many tips as you have.

5. In a small bowl, whisk eggs with broth, salt, pepper, garlic powder, thyme and lemon zest. Slowly pour mixture over vegetable layers, letting liquid penetrate strata until all liquid is used. Make sure some asparagus pieces show above the liquid on top.

6. Place in preheated oven and bake 55 to 65 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

7. Remove from oven and let strata cool 15 minutes in the pan. Use an offset spatula to loosen the edges but don’t remove the collar. Let strata cool another 30 minutes or until it is almost room temperature. Undo latch on the pan, remove the collar and slide strata onto a serving plate, using the parchment paper to help keep it in place. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Each serving contains 152 calories, 9g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 141mg cholesterol, 424mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 4g sugars, 9g protein, 5Est GL.

Photography by Tim Horel

Coconut Lemon Sponge Cake

SERVES 6 TO 8

This light variation of sponge cake is reminiscent of coconut custard pie. Although best served the same day it is baked, it can be made one day ahead and stored at room temperature, covered loosely with foil. For best results, do not replace the eggs in this recipe.

3 extra-large egg yolks, room temperature
cup sugar
-Zest of 1 large lemon
teaspoon pure vanilla extract
cup tapioca starch/flour or potato starch or combination
1 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 extra large egg, room temperature
1 cup fresh berries, optional
-Whipped cream or dairy-free whipped topping

1. Preheat oven to 300F. Grease a 6- or 8-inch springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and grease the paper.

2. In a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer, whip egg yolks and sugar on high until mixture turns pale yellow and doubles in volume, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add lemon zest, vanilla and tapioca starch/flour. Mix on low speed until tapioca is incorporated. Then turn mixer on high speed and whip for 1 minute. Add coconut and blend. Add olive oil and egg and whip until batter is light and fluffy.

3. Pour batter into prepared pan and set it on a baking sheet to catch any drips. It will probably leak a little bit.

4. Place cake in preheated oven and bake 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with dry crumbs. Cake will form a crusty dome and turn golden brown. When done, the top will crackle like a meringue and center will be firm.

5. Remove from oven and let cake cool in the pan 15 minutes. Use an offset spatula to loosen edges and gently release the collar but don’t remove it entirely. Let pan continue to cool until it is just barely warm. Then remove the collar and slide the cake onto a serving plate. Cool to room temperature and cut into slices. Serve with fresh berries and whipped cream, if desired.

Each serving contains 210 calories, 13g total fat, 8g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 105mg cholesterol, 25mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 13g sugars, 2g protein, 12Est GL.

Photography by Tim Horel

Double Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

MAKES 34 TO 36 COOKIES

Many commercial Passover macaroons are overly sweet and contain ingredients that aren’t allergy friendly. These meringue macaroons are slightly chewy. They’re infused with vanilla and a double dose of dark chocolate, delivering rich flavor. They can be baked a day ahead and stored in a covered container in layers, separated by parchment paper. This recipe can be made with egg replacement; see instructions on page 66. Keep in mind that egg replacer and regular baking powder are not kosher for Passover and may not meet some Passover guidelines.

2 extra-large egg whites, room temperature
⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
teaspoon kosher salt
cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups finely shredded unsweetened coconut
1 cups semisweet mini chocolate chips
cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate disks or chips

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, whip egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until soft peaks form. While mixer is running, slowly drizzle in sugar. Whip until meringue forms glossy white peaks. Then add vanilla.

3. Using a spatula, gently fold in coconut and mini chocolate chips. Egg whites will deflate a bit.

4. Scoop batter by generous tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets, placing macaroons inch apart. Using damp fingers, flatten them slightly. Place a chocolate disk or chips into the center of each, pressing down so the center is lower than the sides (like a thumbprint cookie). If meringue appears to crack, use dampened fingers to smooth it out around the edges.

5. Place in preheated oven and bake 15 minutes. Rotate pans. Bake 6 to 8 minutes more or until macaroons are light golden brown.

6. Remove from oven and let cool 15 minutes. Place macaroons on a wire rack to cool completely. Do not layer until chocolate centers are set.

Each macaroon contains 108 calories, 7g total fat, 5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 18mg sodium, 12g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 8g sugars, 1g protein, 6Est GL.

To make Egg-Free Double Coconut Chocolate Macaroons, omit the egg whites. In a small bowl, combine 3 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer and 4 tablespoons warm water. Mix well. Add 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder and 1 teaspoon baking powder, stirring to combine. Use this mixture in Step 2 to replace the egg whites. Reduce semisweet mini chocolate chips to 1 cup, adding more chips as needed. Form each macaroon with fingers. Makes about 30 cookies.


Photography by Tim Horel

Lemon Coconut Pavlova with Berries

SERVES 4

This impressive dessert is easy to prepare. Adding lemon and coconut makes it dressier for special occasions. Pavlova shells can be made a day ahead and stored in a single layer on parchment paper covered loosely with foil. If the Pavlova loses its crispness and becomes soft, reheat in a 250F oven for 10 minutes; cool before filling. The eggs cannot be replaced in this recipe.

3 extra-large egg whites, room temperature
teaspoon kosher salt
⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
cup sugar
teaspoon pure vanilla extract
-Zest of 1 small lemon, divided
cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut
2 cups fresh berries
1 tablespoon honey, optional
-Whipped cream or dairy-free whipped topping, optional

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, whip egg whites with salt and cream of tartar until soft foamy peaks form. With mixer still whipping, slowly add sugar. Whip until stiff, glossy peaks form. Then add vanilla and half the lemon zest.

3. Use a large piping bag fitted with a plain or star tip. Make 4 meringue bowls by piping 4-inch-wide circular coils, 1 layer deep, placed about 2-inches apart on the parchment. Pipe a single ring on the outside ring of each meringue coil to form a bowl. (Alternatively, use a spoon to form four 4-inch bowls of meringue on the parchment paper.) Sprinkle coconut over meringue bowls, including outside edges.

4. Place in preheated oven and bake 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300F and bake 35 to 40 minutes more. Coconut will turn nutty brown and meringue bowls should be crispy and golden.

5. To serve, place each bowl on a dessert plate. Fill with mixed berries and top with remaining lemon zest. Drizzle each with honey. Add whipped cream, if desired. Serve immediately.

Each serving contains 183 calories, 4g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 164mg sodium, 35g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 30g sugars, 4g protein, 20Est GL.

©Viktor Fischer/iStock/Thinkstock

Dairy-Free Whipped Coconut Cream

MAKES 1 TO 1 CUPS

This dairy-free, soy-free, nut-free whipped cream must be served very cold. Choose full-fat canned coconut milk that separates when chilled. The coconut fat, which should be very thick, will rise to the top of the can.

1. Refrigerate the can of full-fat coconut milk overnight or longer. Place a medium-size mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for several hours to chill.

2. Open the can and spoon out the solid coconut fat at the top. This is the part you will whip. Set the liquid in the can aside for another purpose. (It’s great for smoothies.)

3. Add sugar and whip with cold beaters until cream fluffs. Do not over-whip since beaters will warm up and melt the fat, requiring refrigeration.

4. Keep chilled until serving and serve immediately. Whipped coconut fat will melt at room temperature.

Each tablespoon contains 13 calories, 3g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 6mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g sugars, 0g protein, 0 Est GL.

*Confectioners’ sugar is not kosher for Passover and may not meet some Passover guidelines.

Lisa Stander-Horel (glutenfreecanteen.com) is author of Nosh on This, Gluten-Free Baking from a Jewish-American Kitchen.

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