Whole foods cooking might be the last thing you'd think about when planning a Passover meal, but a beautiful, festive, healthy meal can be a refreshing change from typical fare. Passover is a celebration of Thanksgiving and a time for family and friends to gather. As part of the ritual aspect, Seder includes the drinking of 4 cups of wine, the breaking and eating of matzah, partaking of the symbolic foods on the Seder Plate, and recitation of prayers and songs.
Evolving Passover Traditions
Passover traditions have evolved somewhat over the years, allowing more artistry to come into play in the preparation of the feast itself. Rabbi Paul Kipnes, a man who might be considered a progressive spiritual leader, had this to say:
“For Ashkenazim (Jews of Eastern European descent), the tradition on Passover has been to not eat foods considered “Kitniyot,” which includes many legumes, as well as beans, peas, rice, millet, corn, and seeds. … Why is it, then, that many Jews who might not have done so in the past, now eat kitniyot during Passover? In the recent past, two groups of rabbis have met and, independent of one another, ruled that both Ashkenazim and Sephardim should be permitted to eat rice, corn, and kitniyot during Pesach.
Preserving Old Customs
On the other hand, there is only one reason to observe this custom: the desire to preserve an old custom.
… there will be Ashkenazim who will want to stick to the “custom of their ancestors,” and who will be drawn to that tradition, even though they know that it is permitted to eat kitniyot on Pesach.
Rabbi David Golinkin concluded the Israeli Conservative Movement’s Responsum by stating that with a willingness to eat kitniyot on Pesach (Passover), “This will make their lives easier and will add joy and pleasure to their observance of Pesach.”
It can become very easy to think that observing Pesach represents an unbearable burden: so much preparation, the need to give up chametz and instead eat Matzah – the list surely goes on. We must remember that Matzah is not only the “bread of affliction,” but the symbol of freedom as well!
Rabbi Golinkin ends his legal decision with an understanding and insightful directive. He notes that adding joy and pleasure to our observance of Pesach was probably not on our Passover shopping lists – and if it was, did it even make the top 10? Now we have an opportunity to prepare for Pesach with an additional item on our “to do” lists: adding joy and pleasure to our observance of Pesach.”
Appropriate Main Courses Include
- Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Puree with Miso and Crispy Sage
- Spiced Sweet Potato Puree
- Yam and Celery Root Puree
- Bitter Greens with Broth Reduction
All in all, a festive whole foods menu is not only possible but also fairly easy to pull together.
If you are cooking for a large group, roast several chickens together or steam the fish in a large sheet pan covered with foil rather than individual packets. The soup base and side dishes can be made ahead and assembled at dinnertime, and the desserts can all be can be made the day before.