04/06/2012 09:44 am ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

Don't Panic, It's Just Passover

By Alessandra Bulow, Food & Wine

During the week before Passover begins, on April 6, observant Jews will prepare for the eight-day holiday by removing every piece of chametz (food with leavening) from their homes. Then panic will start to take over: "Oh, no, there's nothing to eat except matzo. I'm going to the supermarket to buy every product that's ever been marked with a 'Kosher for Passover' label." The result is often a kitchen full of packaged cookies, cakes, chips, gefilte fish and marshmallows (seriously, how did marshmallows ever become part of Passover?). For a more satisfying and relaxed Passover, without processed foods and artificial ingredients, here are some delicious and unorthodox ways to restock the pantry.

Passover Recipe Ideas

The Passover "Ham" for Easter
Having a ham in the house is like having money in the bank," says Tina Ujlaki, Food & Wine's Executive Food Editor. The Passover equivalent is turkey. You can serve it on the first night of Pesach, and there will be leftovers all week. Use the bones for turkey soup. Throw it over salad, make a chunky turkey salad or cook a turkey shepherd's pie with beautiful spring vegetables.

Salty and Crunchy Foods that Aren't Matzo
Too much of the ever-versatile matzo can sit like a brick in your stomach, and most kosher-for-Passover potato chips and flavored crackers contain MSG, plus not-great-for-you cottonseed oil. This is a good time to try tastes-like-they're-fried-but-they're-not foods like kale chips and oven fries. Or even real French fries; potatoes are your friend during Passover.

The master of disguise, this protein- and fiber-packed food looks like a grain but is actually a seed that's okay to eat during Passover. It makes a great substitute for oatmeal (which is chametz) in a warm breakfast dish sweetened with honey, and is also delicious in salads or served as a side.

Non-Boxed Desserts
What other time of year calls for four boxes of cookies and a huge bag of marshmallows for only eight days? The kosher-for-Passover cake mixes, cookie mixes, prepared cakes and cookies are often loaded with empty calories and can taste like the cardboard boxes that they came in. Flourless cakes, flourless cookies and meringues are among the easiest desserts to make, as well as the lightest calorically.

Homemade Vinaigrette
Something green and leafy is necessary when you're downing matzo by the box (you know who you are). Although white vinegar and mustard are chametz, salads can be dressed with a wine or cider vinegar and extra virgin olive oil (all EVOOs are kosher for Passover according to the Orthodox Union).

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