,•L a Seder Plate Inspires Healthful Menu
By LESLYE MICHLIN BORDEN
Since food occupies such a
central position during the Passover
festival, deciding what to prepare for
the holiday meal assumes great
importance for the Jewish
homemaker. This year, draw
inspiration from the seder plate in
planning your seder menu. The
components of the seder plate tell
the Passover story.
The roasted shank bone,
Zeroah, represents the sacrifice God
demanded of the slaves in Egypt.
The Baytzah, roasted egg,
symbolizes the offering ancient
Jews made during the time of the
Temple. Also a symbol of mourning,
its placement on the seder plate
suggests that modern Jews still
grieve for the loss of the Temple.
Karpas, a mild vegetable, often
parsley, celery, or a root vegetable,
has several meanings. It signifies
new growth in spring. At the time of
the Temple, meals began by dipping
vegetables. The Passover meal
begins by dipping the karpas into
saltwater. The saltwater reminds
modern Jews of the tears the
Israelites shed in Egypt because
their life was so hard.
Severity of life in Egypt is
emphasized again by the placement
of Maror, bitter herbs, on the seder
plate. Usually, this consists of thin
slices of fresh horseradish or leaves
of bitter lettuce, like romaine,
escarole, or chicory.
Finally, the seder plates
includes Charoset, a delicious
mixture of apples, nuts, and wine
which looks like the mortar the
Israelites used to build Pharaoh's
These symbols arranged on the
seder plate inspire a wonderful
festive dinner. Start the meal with
spring beet soup (Karpas). Continue
with chopped eggplant stuffed in
celery (Hazerat). For the fish course,
prepare sea bass in jelly, garnished
with horseradish sauce (Maror).
Bake cornish hens or chicken
breasts with a stuffing made of
matzah, apples, almonds, cinnamon
and wine (Charoset). Garnish the
plate with sauteed beet greens.
Between dinner and dessert,
cleanse the palate with a salad of
romaine, chickory and escarole. For
dessert, stress the springtime
aspect of the occasion by preparing
fresh strawberry pie served in a
crust of light, fluffy meringue
This entire menu has been
organized according to the
requirements of a low-fat, low-
cholesterol, high complex-
Start your meal off with a tasty
spring beet soup garnished with
little meatballs. In Eastern Europe,
Jewish women used to start making
beet russel right after Purim so it
would be ready in time to make
borscht for Passover. Today rabbinic
authorities frown on russel-based
beet soup at Passover because the
beets are fermented. Yet a non-
fermented soup is absolutely
acceptable and a lot easier to
Make meatballs from ground
white meat turkey and drop them
into the soup after they are cooked.
Chopped liver is another
Passover delicacy not recommended
for people trying to maintain a low-
cholesterol diet. But if you want to
serve something that looks similar,
prepare Chopped Eggplant in its
place. Long a favorite of Sephardic
Jews because of its spicy flavor, the
dish enjoys an additional benefit in
that it contains no saturated fat or
Gefilte fish, a mainstay of the
seder meal, uses eggs as the glue
which holds the chopped fish
together. Usually, egg substitute
could be used, but so far there isn't
any available that is kosher for
Passover. Sea bass in gel is much
easier to prepare and contains all
the essentials of gefilte fish —
onions, carrots and gel.
For the entree, bake cornish
game hens (or chicken breasts) over
a delicious matzah, apple and
almond stuffing made with no fat
whatever. Brush the poultry with an
apricot-mustard glaze during baking.
SPRING BEET SOUP
Replace the strained broth in a pan and
bring to a simmer. Add the fillets and simmer
gently 8 minutes (allow 10 minutes per inch
thickness of the fish). Carefully remove the
fish fillets. Place in an 8 x 8 square glass
dish. Cover and chill.
Bring the stock to a boil over high heat.
Cook until the liquid reduces by half, about
15-20 minutes. Taste and add more salt or
pepper if necessary. Pour a little of the
reduced stock into a small dish. Refrigerate.
If the cooled liquid has enough gel in it, pour
it all over the fish. If not, dissolve the gelatin
in 1/4 cup of stock. Add this to the remainder
in the pan and heat until well combined.
Pour this over the chilled fish pieces. Chill at
least 4 hours.
To serve, divide into 8 and place on
chilled fish plates.
2 bunches medium beets, scrubbed
2 onions, peeled
2 quarts water
2 t. salt, or to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
2 c. rhubarb, cut in 1/2-inch pieces OR 4 T.
fresh lemon juice
OR 1/2 t. sour salts
Low-fat spicy meatballs
Place unpeeled beets and water in a
large pot. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook
until almost tender, about 15 minutes (or
longer) depending on the size of the beets.
When the beets are ready, remove them
from the cooking liquid and let them cool.
Save the liquid. Remove the skins, which
come off easily at this point. Grate the beets,
using a medium blade. Then grate the
Strain the cooking liquid. Add the grated
beets, onions, rhubarb (if used), salt and
garlic to the liquid. Bring to a boil. Reduce
the heat and cook about 10 more minutes.
Add the sour salts or lemon juice if rhubarb
is not used. Cool and chill.
To serve, reheat the soup. Ladle it into
individual glass bowls. Garnish each bowl
with 2 Spicy Meatballs. Makes at least eight
LOW-CHOLESTEROL SEA BASS
2 lb. sea bass (or any other firm fresh white
fish) cut into 8 pieces
2 lb. fish heads and bones
1 onion, chopped coarsely
2 stalks celery, chopped coarsely
2 carrots, sliced
1 T. lemon juice
1 /2 t. white pepper
1 /2 t. salt
1 T kosher unflavored gelatin (if needed)
No-cholesterol horseradish sauce
In a pan large enough to hold all the
ingredients, add the fish bones, onion, celery,
carrots, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Bring
to a boil. Cover and simmer 1 hour. Strain
the stock through a fine sieve. Save the
carrot slices for the garnish and discard the
rest of the solids.
LOW-FAT SPICY MEATBALLS
/2 lb. ground white meat turkey or chicken
1 /2 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 /4 c. chopped parsley
1 /2 t. salt, or to taste
freshly grated black pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients in a small mixing
bowl. Divide mixture into 16 and then form
into small balls. Brown the meat balls in a
non-stick frying pan. Then place on a rack in
a 350 degree oven and cook until ready,
about 40 minutes. May be made ahead. To
serve, reheat in the fry pan. Makes 16 balls.
1 large onion, chopped
1 c. celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 /4 cup parsley, chopped
1 /2 cup raisins
3 green apples, cored and coarsely chopped
1 /2 c. chopped almonds
1 t. cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
1 c. low-fat chicken broth (or more)
8 matzahs, broken up
1 /2 c. Passover white (or red) wine
In a large frying pan, saute the onion,
celery, garlic and parsley in a few
This will keep the skinned poultry
from drying out and it will give it a
zippy flavor as well.
Round out the menu with a
salad of bitter greens — romaine,
escarole and chickory. Toss the
salad with a tangy dressing made
with mustard, onion and vinegar. It
will clear your palate so you are all
ready for the grand finale —
By all means, avoid Passover
sponge cakes made with 12 whole
eggs. Instead, bake a meringue pie
crust and fill it with the beautiful
strawberries just coming into the
With a little planning, the
demands of a low-fat, low-
cholesterol diet merge easily with
the rules of Passover. So have a
tablespoons of low-fat chicken broth until
vegetables are tender and begin releasing
their own juices. Add the raisins, apples,
almonds and cinnamon. Season to taste with
salt and pepper. Turn heat off. Add broken up
matzahs and enough additional chicken broth
and wine to moisten. Place in a lightly-oiled
baking dish large enough to hold the stuffing
and all the game hen pieces or chicken
breasts. During cooking, baste with more
chicken broth depending on hov ∎ crisp you
like the stuffing. Serves 8 generously.
NO-FAT, NO CHOLESTEROL
STRAWBERRY MERINGUE PIE
3 baskets fresh strawberries, washed and
Dry washed berries with paper towels.
Save about half of the best ones for the top.
Slice the rest and place into the baked
meringue crust. Then arrange the reserved
berries on top, placing the largest berries in
center. Surround by smaller ones. Serves 8.
3 egg whites at room temperature
1 /4 t. salt
3 /4 c. sugar
Lightly oil the bottom and sides of a 9-
or 10-inch glass pie plate. Preheat oven to
In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg
whites and salt at high speed until the whites
form soft peaks when the beaters are slowly
Gradually add the sugar, 1/4 cup at a
time, beating well after each addition.
Continue beating until very stiff peaks form.
The meringue should be shiny and very
Spread 2 /3 of the meringue on the
bottom of the prepared pan. Use the rest to
cover the sides and mound around the rim.
Bake 50 minutes, then increase the
temperature to 400. Bake 10 more minutes.
Cool on a wire rack before filling.
Leslye Michlin Borden is a Detroit native
residing in California who specializes in
healthful kosher cooking.
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS