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.
What is Passover
At Passover (or Pesach in Hebrew), Jewish people around the world celebrate the freeing of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. We tell much of the story symbolically through food. The seder, the Passover meal eaten on the first two nights of the holiday, requires planning and preparation but it is worth the effort. 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 — the book used to run the seder meal and tell the story of Passover.
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.
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. 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.
Beyond the Seder – Keeping Kosher 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.
Whether you lean towards a traditional passover meal or an updated variation, here are recipes to help you conquer the challenge of creating a seder menu, bringing a dish to another host’s home, or just feeding your family throughout the 7 (or 8) days of Passover.
Turkish Charoset from Blue Kale Road – I always make a very simple Ashkenazic style charoset with toasted walnuts, chopped apples, cinnamon, and red wine (yes I have even used Manischewitz). This Turkish charoset recipe by my friend Hannah straddles the line between a traditional Ashkenazic style and a more complex Sephardic style that incorporates dried fruits and different nuts. She uses raisins and dates in addition to apples, pistachios instead of walnuts, and orange juice in place of wine.
Breakfast/Lunch Passover Recipes
Bubbe’s Bubula – My Grandmother’s Puffy Matzo Meal Pancake – I first posted this recipe for National Pancake Day in 2011, not realizing just how special this recipe would be to my extended family — each of whom has their own childhood memories related to this simple matzo meal pancake. Make it your own by pan frying in butter or olive oil or coconut oil and experimenting with toppings. But you’ll love the light fluffy result of this simple Passover recipe staple.
Matzo Farfel Kugel – The most popular post on my blog, this comparison of two matzo farfel kugel recipes with the The Jewish-American Kitchen version winning the taste test will get you on the road to kugel mastery.
Apricot Apple Matzo Farfel Kugel – This version is inspired by a recipe a reader sent to me and offers some lightened up options if you are feeling overwhelmed by the number of eggs in your Passover preparations.
Passover Vegetable Side Dishes
Roasted Cauliflower – Colorful cauliflower may be plentiful at early spring produce departments and farmers markets. Buy a few heads – any color – and roast some up for a simple side dish to lighten up what can often be a heavy meal.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts w Pomegranate Two Ways – With the yogurt sauce alongside, this could almost be a vegetarian main course. Without it, it will work with a meat main course if you keep kosher. Inspired by a dish in Amelia Saltsman’s Seasonal Jewish Kitchen, I originally prepped this dish with cauliflower too. Be creative and feel free to mix your cruciferous veggies together.
Main Course Passover Recipes
Sandy’s Sweet and Sour Brisket – The variations on this brisket are plentiful if you google it. This is the recipe my mother always made with no clear story of where her version originated. If you keep kosher for Passover, you’ll have to make some changes – substitute broth for the beer and check the ketchup bottle for corn syrup – a no-no for Passover.
Brisket with Tzimmes – This variation of a Gourmet recipe from 2005 departs from my mother’s tried and true version, using sweet potatoes, carrots, and a plethora of dried fruits as well as sherry vinegar and beef (or chicken) broth for the braising liquid. It regularly gets as many compliments as my mother’s version (but please don’t tell her I said that).
Desserts for Passover
Chocolate Covered Matzo with Toasted Nuts and Sea Salt This classic recipe originally created by Marcy Goldman in A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking is augmented with new toppings and slight changes to the ingredient amounts. Simple to make ahead and refrigerate or freeze and adaptable to different dietary restrictions or flavor profiles.
Dairy Free Chocolate Truffles We often think of sponge cakes or flourless chocolate cakes as obvious choices for Passover dessert. But really, after such a long meal with so many courses, doesn’t a small bite sound just perfect? I created this recipe for chocolate truffles with a dairy-free modification making it perfect to serve after a meat-based meal. And just like the chocolate covered matzo, you can prepare these ahead to minimize how much you need to do the day of the seder meal.
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