This year I have lots of Passover-friendly recipes for the seder. But it gets difficult to plan meals for the rest of the week that aren’t boring or so chock full of matzo or matzo meal that we can barely move.
That’s where these surprising ingredients that are kosher for Passover come in.
I do love food we serve at the Seder. Of course, there is matzo in various forms. My favorite matzo dishes are matzo (Passover) rolls and matzo kugel (pudding). And the main course is always scrumptious. Typically we serve room temperature salmon or a variation on Silver Palate Chicken Marbella.
Vegetables are always on the seder table too. For example, Swiss chard and potatoes in various dishes. (Hint: The vegans in my family are likely to get this easy potato and onion casserole or hasselback potatoes.)
Chametz and Kitniyot
Anyway, back to permissible and forbidden foods. Or, as my friend Stacey would say, The Whole Kitniyot and Caboodle.
The forbidden foods, or chametz (sometimes spelled in transliteration from Hebrew as hametz, chametz, or chometz) are five specific grains in a fermented state.
- spelt (By the way, farro is not spelt, as Pasta Grannies explain here.)
Matzo (also spelled matza, matzah, or matzoh, ) is allowed because the rule against chametz refers fermentation, which only takes place if the grain combines with liquid for more than 18 minutes. Kosher for Passover matzo bakes in no more than 18 minutes. Therefore, it is allowed even though its ingredients are wheat flour and water.
Sephardic Jews have always eaten rice and legumes during Passover. However, Ashkenazic Jews (like my family) traditionally avoided rice, split peas, and other legumes. We call those ingredients kitniyot. The tradition dates from the 13th Century. But now Reform and Conservative rabbinic authorities have decreed that there is no requirement to abstain from those ingredients. Yay!! By the way, Orthodox Ashkenazic Jews still abstain from kitniyot even as their Reform and Conservative brethren have dropped the prohbition.
Surprising Ingredients that are Kosher for Passover
Ingredients in this category include both kitniyot and a few that have always been fine, but which I never thought about using. In this latter category are baking soda, baking powder and yeast that is not made from wheat or barley.
Yeast? Yes, even yeast can be kosher for Passover. The Orthodox Union explains that for its purposes, as long as yeast does not contain any of the prohibited grains, it is OK. That means wheat-based yeast is not kosher for Passover, but corn-based yeast is. I did not check the ingredients of Fleischmann’s and use the photo of that company’s yeast only for purposes of the food group, not as a recommendation of that brand for Passover consumption.
While the concept of gluten-free rice bread with yeast might seem to violate the spirit of Passover, it also seems to be technically “legal.”
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- Rice and rice krispies
- Nuts & nut flours (eg. almond flour)
- Lentils, split peas & other legumes
- Corn & corn products (eg. cornstarch)
- Gluten free flour mixtures made without the forbidden grains
- Vanilla extract (made without alcohol or with alcohol not derived from forbidden grains)
Suddenly, the week of Passover doesn’t seem such a daunting challenge, food-wise.
There will be lots of choices.
I’m thinking about corn chowder as a light main course
or perhaps lentil soup
I could do vegetarian chicken liver (with lentils) for an appetizer or snack
and even corn arepas for breakfast
And maybe, best of all (as I’m a dessert person), I can try my friend Molly’s Gluten-Free Crêpes with Almond Flour. during Passover.
With the addition of rice, legumes and the other surprisingly kosher for Passover ingredients, my food horizons for Passover week are suddenly much broader.
Bonus tips for Passover Baking
- If you have a recipe with just a few tablespoons of flour, you can substitute matzo cake meal (finer texture than matzo meal, more like uncooked flour) and the recipe should turn out fine. That’s what I plan to do if I get a hankering for Dried Fruit and Nut Bars or No Butter or Shortening Date Nut Bars.
- Matzo meal lasts. Maybe not forever, but… If you have some from last year, don’t throw it out. Smell it. If it still smells good and it looks fine, you can use. it.
Whether you celebrate Passover, Easter, Ramadan or none of them, I wish you a happy, healthy week. And if you’re cooking for a crowd, or just having a few people over and feel rusty as a host after too many months of isolation, just remember – it’s really about family, friendship, and being together. Don’t stress, just enjoy each other!