Passover is an eight-day spring festival celebrating freedom and the Jewish people’s escape from slavery in Egypt. Passover is also known for its dietary restrictions (no leavened bread!) and focus on eating matzah, the thin, hard, cracker-like bread the Jews ate during their 40-year exodus through the desert.
One of the highlights of Passover is the seder, a ritual dinner held on the first two nights (depending on your tradition). Many traditional seder foods tend to be delicious, but not necessarily healthy — think brisket, matzah ball soup, macaroons and candy fruit slices.
Luckily, since Passover is a spring holiday, there are also delicious and healthy ritual foods — such as charoset (a mixture of fruit and nuts meant to resemble mortar) and karpas (a green vegetable to represent spring) — and meal options that feature fresh produce. Many soups, salads and vegetable dishes are (or easily can be) kosher for Passover, including these spring and early summer recipes from the blog. Just note that there is a wide spectrum of observance for Passover, and for some people certain store-bought ingredients such as broth should be marked kosher for Passover — or you can always make your own stone stock.
Asparagus soup Braised collard greensRoasted romanescoAsparagus revuelto
This spaghetti squash lasagna is a lighter vegetarian main dish that works for Passover — or any time of year. It is also simple to prepare for a hectic family meal. The spaghetti squash and sauce can be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge until ready to assemble. Just add another 10 to 15 minutes to the baking time to make sure the lasagna is heated through.
<strong>For the sauce:</strong>
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided), plus 1 teaspoon for the squash
3-4 medium tomatoes, cut into thick, ½ inch slices
2 cloves garlic, peeled and trimmed
½ small onion, chopped into large (½ inch) chunks
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4-5 large fresh basil leaves, torn in half
2 tablespoons dry red wine (optional)
<strong>For the lasagna:</strong>
1 spaghetti squash, baked and shredded with a fork
1 ½ cups shredded part-skim mozzarella
To prepare the squash:
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cut the spaghetti squash in half, and remove the seeds and strings in the center. Bake cut side up for 15 minutes, then brush a teaspoon of olive oil on the flesh before turning cut side down to bake for an additional 25 to 35 minutes, until the flesh is tender and a knife slides through easily.
2. Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 10 minutes. When the squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to separate the flesh from the skin, but leave the flesh in each half skin until ready to assemble the lasagna. You should have two roughly equal mounds of squash resembling short spaghetti strands.
To make the sauce:
1. While the spaghetti squash is roasting, prepare the sauce. Rub one tablespoon of olive oil on a baking sheet and arrange tomato slices on the sheet, avoiding overlapping as much as possible. Place the whole, peeled garlic cloves on the baking sheet, and intersperse with chopped onions. Sprinkle with dried oregano and basil leaves, spreading across tomatoes. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and roast in the oven with the squash for 12 to 15 minutes, flipping tomatoes about halfway through. Remove from the oven when the tomatoes are soft and cooked through and the onions are starting to become translucent. The tomatoes will have leaked a lot of juice; be sure to include this in your sauce!
2. Measure out the wine (if using) in a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup or medium glass bowl. Scoop sauce ingredients, including juice and seeds from the tomatoes, into the wine (or directly into the bowl if not using wine) and let cool for at least 5 to 10 minutes.
3. When sauce ingredients have cooled slightly, pour into blender and puree until smooth. NOTE: To safely puree hot liquids, remove center piece of blender lid to allow steam to escape and secure blender lid on blender. Then place a clean towel or pot holder over the opening in the blender lid to avoid splatters.
To assemble and bake the lasagna:
1. Preheat (or reduce the heat in the oven) to 350 degrees.
2. To assemble the lasagna, ladle one-third of the sauce in a 9 x 9” square baking dish and spread evenly across the bottom. Take half the squash by the forkful and cover the sauce. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the squash. Ladle another third of the sauce over the cheese, and then follow with the remaining half of the squash. For the top layer, spread the remaining third of the sauce and finish with the remaining cheese on top.
3. Bake the assembled lasagna for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and it is heated through. Serve hot and enjoy!