Don’t Pass-over this recipe!

David is a believer that gluten-free food can be fabulous and not only on Passover. “Cooking good gluten-free food is a joy because it requires high-quality ingredients. I use non-wheat flours like tapioca and almond, great meringues for cakes and the freshest of vegetables. Sure, I love eating wheat bread but too often gluten products are used like plastic – to make food cheap and easy”.

David is a chef and with his wife Mickey, the owner of the Ben Ami café and restaurant in Jerusalem which provides many gluten-free options. “We started off providing gluten-free meals because we have close friends who have celiac, but with the huge amount of people now looking for good flour-free and gluten-free food, it has become normal for us”.

Another advantage of gluten-free food is it makes eating out over Passover easy and appetizing. “It’s no problem to make the cafe kosher for Passover. The holiday is fun. We have cake celebrations, Passover pastas and pizzas, and lots of visitors. People come to Jerusalem from overseas each year and have their second-night Seder with us”.

While 99 percent of Ben Ami’s Passover menu is gluten-free, David also prepares a few classic dishes for the holiday such as matzah brei and kneidlach. “My ‘food rabbi’ is the chef and culinary historian Smil Holland. He showed me how great Jewish food was in Europe before the war. It could be as good as the best French and Italian cuisine but somehow when we Jews came to Israel, we forgot how to make it. We make all sorts of meals in the restaurant although there’s a special emotional experience for me when I cook classic Ashkenazi dishes”.

But this Passover, David is recommending something gluten-free and a little less traditional:


Ben Ami’s Tomato Polenta (4 servings)

Ingredients for Polenta:
2 cups of corn flour
½ gallon of milk
One stick of butter
2 teaspoons of salt
2 tablespoons of grated feta cheese (can also use parmesan)
2 tablespoons of grated pecorino cheese 

Ingredients for Sauce:
Thyme, olive oil, fresh garlic, salt and pepper
4-5 ripe Tamar (or cherry) tomatoes
1 packet of mushrooms (forest, porcini or champignon)
4 egg yolks 

Polenta Preparation:
Boil milk with salt and butter. Add corn flour slowly, stirring until thick. Add the cheese and continue stirring until mixture becomes very hard, separates from sides of the pot and is lumpy.  

Sauce Preparation:
Lightly fry thyme and garlic in olive oil. Add tomatoes and cook in own juice on low heat. Season with salt and pepper. Blend to a sauce.
Stir-fry the mushrooms in butter.
Separate 4 egg yolks.

Place polenta mixture in fireproof serving dish. Sprinkle feta or parmesan cheese over it and pour the tomato sauce. Sprinkle mushrooms and place egg yolks in center. Add extra cheese and put in oven on 350° F for about 15 minutes until coating is brown and bubbling.