Spring produce is in the stores and the choices are plentiful. Asparagus, artichokes, leeks and zucchini are among some of the delicious vegetables you can build your meals around. A good idea is to prepare mains of soups, roasted chickens or beef. These can be made in advance. Sides and salads can be prepared just before the meal. There are endless recipes for potatoes that are great fillers. Utilize the sweet potato. It is the healthiest vegetable in the world and contains the least amount of carbohydrates.
My son’s favorite food on Passover is my Sephardic fish balls. I would prepare this dish for my children as soon as they were eating solids, as it is very nutritious and what kid doesn’t like tomato sauce? The fish preparation is similar to gefilte fish as it uses white fish and pike with the addition of eggs, matzo meal and seasonings. The main difference is that I prepare small fish patties in a flavorful tomato sauce. The key to making this dish successfully is to buy fresh fish and cook it the same day.
You can make the patties into whatever shape you like. I form mine into little kebobs. I would suggest using a heavy bottomed wide pot so the patties can lie in one layer. If you have more than one layer of patties, cover the pot for a couple of minutes allow the patties to set and then continue to place the remaining patties on top. Do not stir with any utensils, but gently swirl the sauce around the patties while holding the pot's handles. This dish can be made in advance and even gets better the next day!
Sephardic ‘gefilte’ fish balls in tomato sauce
• 2 lbs fresh ground white fish & pike
• 2 eggs
• ½ cup bread crumbs or matzo mea
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
• ½ teaspoon paprika
• 4 garlic cloves finely minced
• 1/3 cup parsley or cilantro
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 4 -5 cloves garlic
• ½ teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
• ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
• ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• 1 teaspoon paprika
• 2 cans tomato paste
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 2 cups water
Prepare sauce first. Over a medium low heat lightly sauté garlic, chili flakes and spices. Add the tomato paste and combine with the garlic oil. Toast the paste for 2 to 3 minutes to enhance its flavor and begin adding water and stirring. Add enough water that you achieve the consistency that you like. Simmer for half hour. Add parsley.
For best results, use fresh fish and keep cold at all times. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients well. Wet your hands with water or a little oil and using about 2 tablespoons form fish into patties. I shape mine like little kebobs. This step can be done in advance and covered, placed in the refrigerator until sauce is ready.
Place carefully in the simmering sauce, do not stack. If you have more than one layer of patties, cover the pot and cook for a couple of minutes for the patties to set and then continue to place all the fish balls in the pot.
Over a low simmer cook for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the oil separates and forms a ring around the edges of the pot.
Remove from heat, cool to room temperature and serve.
This dish is best served just warm, do not overheat.
Chef Margie Arosh is a personal chef catering Service and cooking school. She is also the chairman of the “UJA Food for Thought Program”.
Reprinted with Permission from Shalom Life