Pereg Passover Perfection
By Ita Yankovich — Published in The Jewish Press
With Passover quickly approaching, other than the massive cleaning requirements, what most parents are panicking about is food: How do we get our picky eaters to consume kosher for Passover dishes for the eight-day holiday? This totals 24 mealtimes of potential breakdowns and tantrums. I was one of those parents. I say was in past tense because I recently had the opportunity to sample some of Pereg’s best- selling and signature spice blends: Grilled Chicken Shawarma, Seafood, BBQ, and Za’atar as well as their full line of seasoned Matzo Crumbs (all kosher for Passover!), and let me tell you, cooking with these products made making dinner a seamless breeze. Why? Because I didn’t have to think about which spices work well together, concentrate on scooping out precise measurements, or worry that my food will turn out bland.
I tested out several of their kosher for Passover products, and now I’m eagerly anticipating the upcoming holiday and I’m confident that my kids and guests will be very satisfied. Let me take you on my Pereg cuisine journey and show you how they boosted by meals from blah to brilliant.
Let’s be honest, even with all the advancements, there still are limited options on food one can eat on Passover. It’s basically a meat and potatoes kind of holiday. The problem is my kids are bored of schnitzel and all things chicken. My kids were refusing to eat another chicken-based meal, but I already defrosted the meat for dinner, so I decided to use Pereg to save the day. I sprinkled some of their Grilled Chicken Seasoning on some cut up chicken cutlets that I cubed and put on skewers and broiled them. My kids devoured it and were begging for more! The Seafood spice really came through for me one evening when I was in a rush and had to get dinner on the table fast. I was planning to make a family favored dish called “Blackened Tilapia, “but it needed a bunch of spices and I was in no mood to forage through my pantry retrieving them all. In addition, I’m pretty sure I ran out of cumin, which is one of the required spices. Lucky for me, I pulled out the Pereg Seafood spice blend and it was perfect for this recipe since it consists of a rich blend of sweet paprika, turmeric coriander, salt, garlic crystals, cayenne pepper, and yes even cumin! I fried the tilapia for five minutes on each side and the result was a beautifully colored fish that tasted bold but not overpowered. I now have two winners for Passover meals! For the Shawarma spice I decided to mix it up and use it as a marinade instead of a spice. I took the Pereg Shawarma spice and used it as a rub on some turkey chops. I simply mixed ¼ cup shawarma seasoning with ¼ cup oil and ¼ cup lemon juice. I whisked the blend together and let it sit with the meat for a few hours. The Shawarma blend transformed the turkey into a smoky aromatic dish with a Middle Eastern vibe. It was flavorful and juicy and gave it a nice kick! Over the weekend, we enjoy grilling so I took the opportunity to whip out the Pereg BBQ spice and sprinkle them on my beef patties, drumsticks, and vegetables and got to grilling. They all came out divine! The great blend of coriander and cumin with a touch of allspice and garlic really kicked off the grilled food enhancing its smoky flavor. When it came to the Pereg Za’atar, I didn’t really know what to do because I have never used this spice before. Made up of quinoa flour, coriander , olive oil , hyssop, parsley, salt and sour salt, I was a bit intimidated. So, I turned to Pereg’s website for inspiration and there was a suggestion to mash some potatoes with a scoop of Za'atar and olive oil for an easy and flavorful side dish. I tried it and it was super easy and delicious. I also plan on using it next time over scrambled eggs for a boost in our breakfast routine. Keep in mind this is Pereg’s special Za’atar for Passover; their year-round Za’atar contains chickpea flour and sesame seeds. If you’re looking for more (non- Passover) ideas, Pereg suggests using the Za’atar for not just meals, but also a quick snack. Sprinkle some Za’atar over hummus, and soft cheese with olive oil. Or consider using it to make tasty croutons/pita chips by sprinkling them over strips of bread/pita and some olive oil and then in the oven until crunchy. This makes an ideal snack when on outings with the family, or maybe as a healthy treat on movie nights. Combine this with soup, salad, or some soft cheese and you just created an amazing and healthy light dinner.
I also noticed that I need less of the spice than I would normally use and I attribute this to the packed in goodness of freshness.
The Pereg Bread Crumb Seasoning did not disappoint as well. I used them for chicken nugget coating, schnitzel frying, and as a stuffing for meatloaf and once again it really elevated the dish to another level. It gave food a nice golden crunch as well as an injection of flavor. The crumbs did not fall off the food it was coting nor did it burn while frying. I know this is because Pereg is using a higher quality of refined crumbs.
“Variety is the spice of life” is a popular idiom that Pereg Natural Food & Spices takes very seriously, even literally. A third generation family owned business; Pereg Natural Food & Spices has been operating since 1906. Their humble beginnings began with a father and a small cart trying to sell spices at the open air market. Today they have grown into a major business operating out of Clifton, NJ and selling more than 80 varieties of spices, spice blends and herbs, along with flavored ancient grain mixes, couscous, to customers all over the world. So, how did Pereg evolve from a simple push cart to a booming leader in the spice industry? It comes down to superb quality.
Pereg Natural Food & Spices obtains their spices from countries all around the world. In fact, they have an actual team that works directly with the farmers and spice processors to select only the finest spices with the highest quality. Once the company gets the spices, it then goes to a team of home chefs and industry experts who then work on developing Pereg’s signature spice blends. These professionals test the combinations so when customers buy them, they are assured that the flavors work well in conjunction to each other. They also have recipe developers who create authentic dishes and post them on Pereg’s website.
I asked Brett F. of Pereg Natural Food what we can do at home to ensure that our spices stay fresher longer, and he says it’s all about climate control and packaging. “Spices should be stored away from heat and sunlight including ovens and stoves,” he advises explaining that heat and light quicken the loss of flavor for spices. I asked Brett what’s next for Pereg and how they stay on trends. He laughed and replied that Pereg doesn’t “do trends.” Instead, they create flavors that customers can enjoy the products for years to come, even centuries. He maintains that some of their most popular spice blends have not been modified since the company started over 115 years ago.
After receiving such positive feedback from their spice blends, Pereg branched out in 2011 and decided to expand to other products like flavored grain mixes-mixing the company’s bold spice blends with other grains for easy side-dishes. In 2013 plain grains were launched. Two years later they added flours to the line; they created an amazing gluten free flours including Banana Multi- Purpose Flour, Almond Meal Flour, Chickpea Flour, Buckwheat, and Cassava Flour. If you go to their website, (www.pereg-gourmet.com) you will notice that they are always experimenting with new flavors and items to include in their assortment. Now that I sampled their spices and see how great they are, my next Pereg cuisine journey will be to their other products. I highly recommend you give Pereg Natural Food & Spices a try and transform yourself from a cook to a chef!
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