Can you believe we are back in Daylight Savings Time and Pesach is only a month away? Yup. Time flies and we are now in that time of year I like to call “purge the wheat.” We have to clean out the house and use up the chametz to make room for the Pesach foods.
When the kids were younger, we had a fun tradition: We would take all the open packages of pasta shapes — from alphabets to stars, wagon wheels, elbows, bow ties and more — and cook them together. We would then add all kinds of cheese and more to some of the pasta and dinner was served. The kids would count their wagon wheels or try to find words with pasta letters. Playing with the food was fine in this case, as they also ate plenty of broccoli, green beans and more while finding their favorite pasta shapes in their dinner. We would save the rest of the pasta for another diner and, instead of adding cheese, I would often mixed it with ground turkey, seitan, or hamburger and tomato sauce.
Another way to use up the chametz is to mix all kinds of leftover cereals together and add lots of dried fruits, nuts, some oats, and toss with pure maple syrup. Toast in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes and you have a light and delicious granola perfect for snacks and lunchboxes.
This can be a fun and cost-saving time of year as you get creative in the kitchen and see what you can make with what you have. Enjoy!
Vegan, Organic, Gluten-Free Scrumptious Beans and Rice ‘Kugel’
4 fairly large onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 large leeks, white part only
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 to 4 Tbsp. canola or extra virgin olive oil
3 10-oz packages mushrooms
2 to 4 cups organic mushroom, onion, or vegetable stock or water
1-1/2 cups long grain white rice. (You can also use brown rice, just pre-cook it longer.)
1/2 cup organic wild rice
1 cup (or more) cooked or canned beans, lima, navy, black, or kidney
1/2 bag frozen green peas
1/4 cup fresh chives, snipped
salt and pepper to taste
Wash the leeks and slice them in half lengthwise. Cut each half in thin, half-moon slices, and break them apart if they stick together.
Cut the onions in half and thinly slice them into half-moon slices. Break them apart.
Clean and slice the mushrooms.
Finely mince the garlic.
Drain the beans, if using canned beans.
Heat a large frying pan and add the oil. Add the onions and sauté until golden. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms give off their juices and reabsorb them. Remove from heat. Add the peas and mix to heat. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl. Set aside.
Generously grease a glass or ceramic 3-quart baking dish. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Meanwhile, parboil the rice and wild rice in different pots until each is about halfway cooked. Drain. Mix into the onion-mushroom mixture. Add the beans and the minced chives and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour into the casserole dish and spread evenly.
Add the water or stock to the pan in which the mushrooms were cooked and heat just to boiling to deglaze and get up any bits of remaining onion, garlic and mushroom. Pour the liquid carefully over the rice and cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, checking several times to make sure that there is enough liquid. Add more boiling liquid, if needed. Uncover to brown for the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking. Serves 8 to 12.
Whole Wheat and Oat Bread (Pareve)
2 packages active dry yeast
3 cups warm water (103 to 107 degrees)
1/3 cup unsulphured molasses
1/4 cup canola oil
3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1-1/2 Tbsp. salt
2/3 cup rolled oats
7-1/2 to 8 cups whole-wheat flour or white and wheat mixed for lighter bread
OPTIONAL: Add some toasted wheat germ, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, anything you find in your cabinet that you think will work. A couple of Tbsp. or more of one or several will add nutrition and texture to your bread.
Place the yeast in a warmed bowl (swirl some hot water in the bowl and discard) and add the warm water. Mix until the yeast is dissolved. Add the molasses and maple syrup and stir. Let proof for 15 minutes until bubbly. Stir oil, salt, oats, and 4 cups of flour into the yeast mixture. Beat until smooth. Add 3 more cups of flour and mix to make a stiff dough. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for about 10 to 15 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle some flour over the sough and knead it into the dough until the dough is no longer sticky, but smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl and turn to cover all sides. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Punch down, and turn onto floured surface. Knead a few times and divide dough in half. Cover and let rise 15 minutes. Shape into 2 loaves, about 8 by 3 inches, and put into 2 greased loaf pans. Let rise about 1 hour. If you like, you can press some oatmeal into the top of the loaves. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let cool on wire racks. Makes 2 loaves.
Crunchy Granola Cookies (Dairy)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup crunch peanut butter
1 extra large egg
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups of your favorite granola (I like vanilla almond and cranberry)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped almonds, walnuts or macadamia nuts
OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup mini or regular chocolate chips or white chips
1/2 cup toffee candy, finely crushed
Grease a cookie sheet and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the peanut butter and beat until creamy. Add the egg and beat well. Remove the bowl from the electric mixer stand and sift the flour and other dry ingredients over the sugar mixture. Fold in with a fork until well blended. Add the granola, raisins and nuts and mix well. Add the chips if desired and mix well. Drop by rounded teaspoons on the cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15 minutes until lightly golden. Let cool for several minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Makes about 18 to 24 cookies.