Looking for some fresh menu ideas for the week-long holiday of Passover?
ISRAEL21c asked six well-known Israeli chefs to share recipes for unleavened dishes so good you’ll want to eat them year-round.

The holiday begins this year on the night of April 22.

B’teavon! Hearty appetite!

TOM FRANZ: Fennel cream soup

Tom Franz, 41, winner of the third season of Israel’s MasterChef culinary TV show, is a former Catholic attorney from Germany who moved to Israel and converted to Judaism at the age of 30. Franz wrote a bestselling kosher cookbook and cohosts Flavors, a daily TV show in Israel. He offers a private gourmet catering service, cooks on TV shows in Israel and Germany, and develops recipes for a variety of clients.

Tom Franz photo by Dan Perez/AT Verlag
Tom Franz photo by Dan Perez/AT Verlag

Fennel Cream Soup

½ cup olive oil
4 pounds fennel (set aside 2 bulbs for optional garnish), cleaned and coarsely chopped
2 large onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons pastis or arak
2 leeks, white part only, chopped
2 heads of celery, rinsed well and diced
3 liters chicken or vegetable stock, or equal amounts water and milk
2-3 potatoes (optional, for a more hearty soup)
1 star anise
Salt and white pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large pot and fry the onions just until translucent. Add the pastis or arak and leeks and continue frying. Add the diced celery and stir. Stir in the fennel pieces (and optional potato) and soften the vegetables at least 10 minutes. Add the stock and star anise and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook until all the vegetables are soft (about 40 minutes). Remove the star anise.

Drain the vegetables (keeping the liquids) and place in food processor or blend with a hand blender until smooth. Strain the puree to remove hard fiber bits.

Transfer the puree to the pot, adding the liquids as needed until achieving the desired consistency (I love creamy). Reheat and season with salt and white pepper to taste.

Garnish bowls of soup with toasted almonds or pine nuts and a drizzle of olive oil, or make a caramelized fennel garnish using the 2 fennels set aside. Slice them thinly and heat a large skillet with ¼ cup olive oil. Arrange the slices nicely in the skillet, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon brown sugar and a little salt, and begin to brown them over medium heat. When they are golden brown, turn and brown the other side. Set aside until serving the soup.

10 servings

Tom Franz’s fennel cream soup. Photo by Daniel Lailah
Tom Franz’s fennel cream soup. Photo by Daniel Lailah


Rafik Jabarin has been working in the Hilton Tel Aviv for the last 20 years and has been its executive chef for the past eight years. He has hosted many world-famous chefs, hosted Israeli food festivals abroad and was guest chef in hotels, fine dining rooms and Michelin restaurants in London, Paris, Tuscany and Spain. Jabarin likes to cook in the modern healthful Mediterranean style.

 Rafik Jabarin, executive chef of the Tel Aviv Hilton, with his sea bass dish. Photo courtesy of Hilton Worldwide
Rafik Jabarin, executive chef of the Tel Aviv Hilton, with his sea bass dish. Photo courtesy of Hilton Worldwide

Fillet of Sea Bass Wrapped with Grilled Zucchini Shaves, Hot Red Pepper Salad and Bouillabaisse

1 zucchini, shaved or cut thinly lengthwise
4 fillet of sea bass, 120 grams each
2 peppers grilled on an open fire, peeled and sliced lengthwise
20 pitted and sliced Kalamata olives
4 basil leaves, thinly cut
1 clove of garlic, peeled and shaved
Salt and pepper
200 ml olive oil
Lemon juice

1 cup of arak liquor
1 cup of brandy
1 bay leaf
1 stalk of thyme
1 white onion, roughly cut
1 carrot, roughly cut
1 fennel bulb, roughly cut
2 cloves of garlic
½ kg red mullet fish bones
50 grams tomato paste
100 ml plain soy milk (or whipped cream)

Add salt and pepper to the zucchini shaves, with a bit of olive oil. Grill on a hot grill till you have grill marks each side. Season the fish with salt and pepper, olive oil and a bit of fresh-squeezed lemon juice. Wrap the fish with the zucchini shavings.

Heat an oven to 200 C (400 F) degrees, bake the fish for 7 minutes.

In a hot pan, with some olive oil, toss the garlic shavings; add the red peppers, basil, salt and pepper, and a bit of lemon juice.

For the sauce, heat a pot, add olive oil, add the vegetables and scorch them on fire; add tomato paste and spices and keep cooking. Add the arak and brandy, and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the fish stock and cook on low fire, till liquid is reduced by half. Strain the liquid. Keep cooking on low fire, till reduced to half, and sauce becomes thick. Add the soy milk.

Adjust flavor, remove from fire.

4 servings

ORI SHAVIT: Stuffed kohlrabi

Food writer, photographer, critic and chef Ori Shavit is a vegan recipe consultant for many Israeli restaurants and hotels. The English version of her website Vegans on Top offers resources about plant-based eating, including an Israeli vegan restaurant guide.

Vegan chef and consultant Ori Shavit. Photo by Dan Lev
Vegan chef and consultant Ori Shavit. Photo by Dan Lev

Baked Stuffed Spring Kohlrabi

8 medium kohlrabis
Olive oil
Atlantic sea salt
½ bunch fresh spinach or ½ package frozen spinach, chopped
3-4 leaves Swiss chard, chopped
3 large leaves kale, chopped
1 stalk green (baby) garlic, soft parts only, chopped
Handful of chopped dill
1 small red bell pepper, roasted or raw, diced
Juice of ½ lemon
Rind of ½ lemon, grated
1 Tablespoon pickled lemon paste, optional
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

Preheat oven to 220 C (425 F).

Put the peeled kohlrabi in a bowl and rub on all sides with the olive oil and salt. Place on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and put into the oven about 30 minutes, until just soft. Remove and let cool slightly.

With a spoon, scoop out the middle of each kohlrabi and dice. Heat a little olive oil in a wok or large frying pan. Add the green garlic and the kohlrabi dice. Add the greens and stir-fry 2-3 minutes until the leaves begin to soften.

Add dill, diced pepper, lemon juice and grated rind, pickled lemon (if using) and pine nuts. Stir fry 1-2 minutes. Season with Atlantic sea salt and pepper to taste. Fill the kohlrabi with this mixture; top with a little grated lemon peel and serve.

If preparing in advance, reheat in the oven 2-3 minutes at a high temperature.
8 servings

 Ori Shavit’s vegan stuffed kohlrabi. Photo: courtesy
Ori Shavit’s vegan stuffed kohlrabi. Photo: courtesy

JOHNNY GORIC: Roasted rack of lamb

Award-winning chef Johnny Goric is executive chef at the Legacy boutique hotel in Jerusalem and head instructor at a culinary school in Ramallah. Goric, who has cooked for several kings and presidents, is a member of Chefs for Peace,  a nonprofit, apolitical, Jewish-Muslim-Christian group that prepares dishes at events around the world to promote harmony in the Middle East.

Johnny Goric, center, cooking at a Chefs for Peace event at Eucalyptus restaurant in Jerusalem. Photo courtesy of US Embassy
Johnny Goric, center, cooking at a Chefs for Peace event at Eucalyptus restaurant in Jerusalem. Photo courtesy of US Embassy

Lemon-Garlic Roasted Rack of Lamb

2 racks of lamb, frenched
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 tablespoon French mustard (or grated horseradish, for those who do not use mustard on Passover)
One lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

Generously season rack of lamb with salt and pepper.

In a large bag, add lamb and olive oil, garlic, and lemon juice, mustard and lemon zest. Let marinate at least two hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F).

Heat a heavy cast iron pan on the stovetop at medium-high heat.

Remove lamb racks from marinade, pat with towels to remove excess oil and liquid (doesn’t need to be bone dry, just not dripping).

Add racks to pan and brown on each side, about 4 minutes per side.

Move pan to oven and let roast for 15 minutes, fat side down.

Flip racks on other side, and roast an additional 10-15 minutes, until internal thermometer reaches 125 degrees for medium-rare, then remove from oven.

Let stand for 10 minutes before carving.

6 servings

Johnny Goric’s roasted rack of lamb ready for roasting. Photo: courtesy
Johnny Goric’s roasted rack of lamb ready for roasting. Photo: courtesy

ALFRED JEVNISEK: Passover pancakes

Austrian native Alfred Jevnisek has been the executive chef of the David InterContinental Tel Aviv for 18 years. He’s an avid practitioner of tai chi and a member of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, a Paris-based international gastronomic society dedicated to fine cuisine and presentation.

Chef Alfred Jevnisek. Photo via Facebook
Chef Alfred Jevnisek. Photo via Facebook

Passover Pancakes

4 tablespoons potato flour
2 cups matzah flour
2 teaspoons kosher-for-Passover baking powder
3 tablespoons brown sugar
5 eggs
2.5 cups milk
A pinch of salt
For frying: 2 teaspoons of oil or butter

Sift potato and matzah flours into a mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix until a smooth texture is achieved. Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes and then stir again.

Place a teaspoon or two of butter or oil on a frying pan. When butter foam subsides or oil shimmers, ladle batter onto pan, making pancakes of any size you like. Adjust heat as necessary; usually, first batch will require higher heat than subsequent batches.

Flip pancakes after bubbles rise to surface and bottoms brown, usually after 2 to 4 minutes. Serve with your choice of fresh jams, powdered sugar, maple syrup, applesauce or sour cream.

About 30 servings


Sharona Levinbaum of Tel Aviv creates decadent desserts and makes videos of the process to post on Facebook. She has millions of views for her high-calorie concoctions such as chocolate cake French toast, toasted pita with Ferrero Rocher “falafel” balls, triple-layer Oreo cake and candy brownies.

 Social-media dessert queen Sharona Levinbaum. Photo courtesy
Social-media dessert queen Sharona Levinbaum. Photo courtesy

Chocolate Matzah Tower

1 box of matzah
1 tub of chocolate spread
Kosher-for-Passover candies
1 650-ml bottle of sweet red wine

Put one matzah into a baking dish and spread it with the chocolate. Add any chocolate (or other) candy you prefer and repeat layer upon layer until all the matzah is used.

Pour the wine over the tower and let it sit for a few hours in the refrigerator until soft. Cut into small squares and serve.

About 30 servings