Cook | A last hurrah before hametz goes in hiding

As Passover approaches on April 14, it makes sense to start clearing out cupboards by eating your way through your leavened carbs.

This becomes a wee bit more challenging for Costco shoppers prone to buying in bulk. Or so I thought until I learned about a nifty little Jewish work-around. The ever-knowledgeable senior educator at JCC of San Francisco, Rabbi Batshir Torchio, informed me that from the perspective of Jewish law, you can sell your hametz (leavened foods) to a non-Jew and leave it all in your home, covered and hidden from view. What you actually do is sell that portion of your home.

Simply “list the exact amount of hametz and where it is located in your house,” says Rabbi Torchio. “You must provide free access … and not make any condition with the purchaser beforehand that he or she sell it back to you. You are actually subleasing the property on which the hametz is stored. The moment Pesach ends, you buy the hametz back, you own it again and are free to consume it.”

Jews are so smart.

In my home, this sale would represent a large percentage of real estate, because Ashkenazi Jews also stay away from legumes and grains, not to mention spices that come in seed form. Avoiding these kitniyot, or “small things,” is a Passover practice that strikes terror in the hearts of Jewish parents nationwide.

No pasta. No beans and rice. No mustard as mild flavoring agent. So get your kicks while you can. Kitniyot, it’s your time to shine.


Caramelized Tomato Risotto with Peas

Serves 4

1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil

1 1/2 Tbs. butter

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

2 Tbs. tomato paste

2⁄3 cup dry white wine

4 to 4 1/2 cups simmering vegetable stock

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, minced

1 1/2 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest

1/2 tsp. salt

plenty of freshly ground black pepper

1 cup frozen peas, defrosted

1 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped, plus extra for garnish

Bring chicken stock to a simmer in a small saucepan on the stove.

In another medium saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat until butter foams. Add the onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until translucent. Add the Arborio rice and stir for 1 minute to coat. Add tomato paste and stir vigorously to distribute. Caramelize by cooking for 1 more minute. Add white wine and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until most of wine has been absorbed. Add the simmering chicken stock, 1⁄2 cup at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more.

After 15 minutes (you should be 2⁄3 of the way through your stock), add sun-dried tomatoes, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly. After two more minutes, add peas. Cook 3-5 minutes more (adding stock as necessary) until the rice is tender but still firm.

When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice, Parmesan and parsley. Serve hot, garnished with extra Parmesan and parsley.


Crisp String Beans with Cured Olives

Serves 3-4

3/4 lb. string beans, ends trimmed

1 Tbs. olive oil

1/4 tsp. black mustard seeds

1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

1 Tbs. water

salt and pepper

1/4 cup pitted cured black olives, coarsely chopped

Heat a 12-inch skillet. Add olive oil. When shimmering, add mustard seeds. When they begin to pop, add garlic and then count to 5 and add string beans. Sauté 1 minute. Add 1 Tbs. water. Cover pan and cook 2-3 minutes over medium heat. Season with 2 pinches of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in olives and serve.

Josie A.G. Shapiro is the co-author of “The Lazy Gourmet.” Her columns alternate with those of Faith Kramer. Her website is

Josie A.G. Shapiro

Josie A.G. Shapiro won the 2013 Man-O-Manischewitz Cookoff and is the co-author of “The Lazy Gourmet.”