Beyond matzo and macaroons

BY MARGI LENGA KAHN

There was a time, not too long ago, when forbidden foods on Passover far outnumbered permitted foods, and familiar products and brands far outnumbered the rest. Shenberg’s in the University City Loop was the source for Passover foods in St. Louis, where, year after year after year, the shelves were laden with the same matzos, macaroons, gefilte fish, cake mixes, sugared fruit slices, soup mixes and wrapped hard candies. Not so today.

Take, for example, matzos. When I was growing up, there were two choices: regular or — for the adventurous — egg. How times have changed. There are now matzos to satisfy everyone’s tastes and special diets, including spelt, 100 percent whole wheat, onion, and even organic.

Kohn’s Market is no longer your Zayde’s market. In addition to the store’s great selection of the standard dry packaged and frozen foods, you’ll be in for some pleasant surprises. I was most impressed with some of the newer items — vinegars, varietal wines, sausages — which open up a whole new range of culinary possibilities during Passover.

And while Kohn’s remains the primary source for kosher foods in St. Louis, other stores in the area have expanded their offerings to better serve the more adventurous members of our Jewish community.

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On a recent day-long excursion throughout our town, I discovered some exciting new products that will change the way you think about food — and food restrictions — on Passover. They may even inspire you to add a few new dishes to your Passover repertoire.

And while you consider which of these exciting new foods to add to your shopping cart, don’t forget about the abundance of exquisite fresh fruits and vegetables that are available, especially this time of year, in local grocery stores and farmer’s markets. (Refer to one of the Web sites on page 10 for an updated list of fresh fruits and vegetables permitted on Passover.)

Combining these fresh fruits and vegetables, and of course, quinoa (a South American seed that can be prepared much like rice and may be used on Passover), with some of these new Passover items unlocks culinary possibilities that were literally unavailable during earlier times.

Although the possibilities are limited only by your imagination, here are few kosher-for-Passover thoughts I had during my excursion:

* Cubes of roasted butternut squash served atop field greens that have been tossed with a dressing of balsamic vinegar (available at Kohn’s Kosher Market, 10405 Old Olive Street Road), olive oil and fresh herbs.

* Steamed fresh asparagus simply drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil

* A sauté of fresh garlic and roma tomatoes in olive oil tossed with Geffen kosher-for-Passover pasta (available at Schnucks, 8867 Ladue Road) and topped with feta cheese, fresh basil, and freshly ground black pepper.

* Steamed baby carrots sautéed in a fresh orange juice/honey reduction, and sprinkled with fresh, chopped thyme.

* Baked potato, sweet potato or Brussels sprout gratin made with cheddar, Gouda or Swiss cheese (available at Kohn’s).

* Quinoa pilaf with a sauté of finely chopped shallots and garlic in vegetable broth.

* Fresh peeled and cored pears gently poached in a bath of red wine and cinnamon sticks.

Options available at local grocers:

KOHN’S KOSHER MARKET: 10405 Old Olive Street Road, 314-569-0727

  • Shabtai assorted frozen cakes and pies including Pecan Pie, Strawberry Shortcake, and Lemon Colada
  • Meat Mart Beef and Veal Spicy Italian Sausages
  • Macabee Kosher Passover Pizza
  • Alfasi Winery
  • Chardonnay
  • Merlot
  • Kayoumi Winery
  • Shiraz
  • Imported Balsamic Vinegar
  • Wide variety of cheeses including Gouda and Feta

WHOLE FOODS: 1601 South Brentwood Boulevard, 314-968-7744, www.wholefoodsmarket.com

  • Naturally Good Kosher Natural Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • Aviv Organic Matzo
  • Gefen Honey Bear, Organic

DIERBERGS: Brentwood Pointe, 8450 Eager Road, 314-962-9036

  • Kedem Winery
  • Marsala and Sherry Cooking Wines-
  • Barentura Winery
  • Italian Moscato White Wine- A light dessert wine
  • Baron Herzog Winery:
  • Chenin Blanc- A fruity, semi-sweet wine to serve with poultry

SCHNUCKS: 8867 Ladue Road, 314-725-7574

  • Geffen Gluten-free pastas including Ziti, Rotelle, Elbow Macaroni, and Shells
  • Savion Matzo Sticks and Chicken Flavored Couscous
  • Prager Frozen Salmon Gefilte Fish

TRADER JOE’S: 48 Brentwood Promenade, 314-963-0253

  • Baron Herzog Winery:
  • Merlot
  • White Zinfandel
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Chardonnay

EXTRA VIRGIN, AN OLIVE OVATION, LLC: 143 Carondelet Plaza, 314-727-6464, extravirginoo.com

  • Galilee Village Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Produced by a cooperative of independent farmers from an olive variety called Souri, grown throughout the Lower Galilee.

MOUND CITY SHELLED NUT COMPANY: 7831 Olive Boulevard, 314-725-9040, www.moundcity.com

  • A wide selection of nuts in bags, gift packages, and assorted dried fruit packages.

(They will ship anywhere for $9.99 regardless of weight.)

Passover Foods Online: Passover foods delivered to your home

  • AVI GLATT KOSHER ONLINE SUPERMARKET: (Shipping is free on orders over $150.00.)
  • TOLL FREE (866) AVIGLATT
  • http://www.aviglatt.com/Catalog_75.html
  • NATIONAL PASSOVER FOOD MARKET: Toll free (866) 567-4379 (866-KOSHER-9), www.kosher.com

Orders can be placed by phone or online.

For information online regarding foods that are permitted on Passover:

  • www.kosherquest.org
  • www.kashrut.com/Passover
  • www.oukosher.org/index.php/passover
  • http://www.aviglatt.com/Catalog_75.html

Margi Lenga Kahn is the mother of five and grandmother of one. A cooking instructor at the Kitchen Conservatory, she is currently working on a project to preserve the stories and recipes of heritage cooks. She welcomes your comments and suggestions at [email protected]