Whether you are preparing for your first Passover seder or your 31st, this post is full of tasty Passover recipes, tips, and holiday information to help you gather, learn, and celebrate with your friends and family.
Want to deep dive into matzo, check out my matzo page.
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What is Passover?
At Passover (or Pesach in Hebrew), Jewish people around the world celebrate the freeing of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. The seder, the Passover meal eaten on the first two nights of the holiday, requires planning and preparation but it is so worth the effort.
So much of the story of Passover is told symbolically through the food we eat. The salt water represents tears. The charoset (chopped fruit and nuts) represents the mortar the slaves used to hold the bricks together.
And of course, the matzo represents the speedy exit of the freed Israelites - no time to let the bread dough rise.
What is a Haggadah?
The Haggadah is the book used to run the seder meal and tell the story of Passover. Jewish and non-Jewish guests enjoy how the food becomes part of the storytelling and how the seder meal becomes interactive as we read through the Haggadah. Haggadahs have come a long way since the free Maxwell House version we suffered through when I was a kid. These are a few of my favorites:
by David Dishon and Noam Zion
This creative haggadah offers a myriad of choices of how to conduct each section of the seder, drawing on alternative views and interpretations as well as art, humor, modern societal relevance and so much more. This version is flexible, instructive, educational, and always encourages lively conversations.
by Rahel Musleah
A great option if you have young kids or an interfaith family, this book offers a modern retelling of the Passover story at a level that your elementary age children or really impatient family member will appreciate.
by Rachel Anne Rabbinowicz
The conservative movement's updated approach to the seder including extensive commentaries in the margins, Hebrew and English readings (no transliterations though) and beautiful artwork.
I haven't used this book yet, but in my family, there is always someone who wants the seder to go faster and someone who still wants to go through the traditional service. This sounds like a great combination of both!
Symbolic Foods for Passover
The center of the seder table is the seder plate, with small indentations for symbolic foods. For example, we dip parsley in salt water. The parsley represents the coming of spring and the salt water represents the tears that were shed.
We eat a fruit and nut mixture called charoset which represents the mortar the Israelite slaves used for brick-building.
The roasted egg on the seder plate represents rebirth and renewal. And the roasted shank bone (zeroa) reminds us of the ancient ritual of a sacrificial lamb.
We eat matzo crackers to symbolize how quickly the Israelites fled, leaving no time for the bread to rise. Instead, they baked it unleavened and hence the flat, crispy matzo crackers or as it is often called: the bread of affliction.
Why do we need special recipes for Passover?
If you keep kosher for Passover, then you have 21 or 24 meals plus snacks to eat “chametz” free. Chametz is food that contains:
When these grains come in contact with water and ferment for longer than 18 minutes, they are considered “leavened”. Why does this matter?
The story is that when the Jewish people fled Egypt and slavery, they left in a hurry without time for their bread to rise and matzo was born. That's why matzo, the traditional unleavened bread eaten on Passover, is watched over to be sure it is baked in under 18 minutes or before the flour can begin to rise. Need even more detail about all the matzo products available for Passover - check out my Matzo page for the unleavened truth!
Passover Recipe Inspiration
So much of this wonderful holiday is about the food. So let's dive into some delicious ideas for both the seder menu and the rest of the meals you'll be eating throughout the weeklong observance. Below are lots of Passover recipes for you to add to your mix.
Traditional Seder Menu Items
Some of the dishes we look forward to while we read through the Haggadah.
Breakfast and Lunch Passover Recipes
Seders are great but don't forget the rest of the meals!
Vegetable Side Dishes
After all the eggs, you'll want your veggies!
Main Course Passover Recipes
From brisket to chicken, you'll find something to love!
Passover Dessert Recipes
If you have any room left ...
I hope this round up has given you some fun and delicious Passover recipes to get you through the holiday feeling inspired by ways to honor the food traditions. Remember spring is here when Passover arrives so indulge in all the exciting new produce at the market to really add vibrancy, flavor and color to your unleavened creations!
Want even more dessert inspiration? There are several more Passover dessert recipes in my cookbook plus all the bread recipes you'll be craving once Passover ends!
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