April 20, 2008
I hosted my family for the second Passover seder this year. In response to inquiries, I've posted details here about the foods I prepared. Judaism, many say, is simply a complicated front for eating.
This page isn't intended to be a comprehensive overview of Passover, but I've provided a lot of links to more information about the holiday and its rituals.
THE SEDER PLATE
Every seder includes an explanation of the special edible symbols of the holiday. To display the items, seder plates are made in every possible design and style. Mine, which I purchased from ModernTribe.com, was hand-forged from iron at Blackthorne Forge in Vermont.
Here's a nice little video explanation of the items on the seder plate.
In addition to the seder plate, the seder table includes:
My family has a variety of challenging dietary restrictions. Rather than make one thing that each person could eat, I wanted to create a menu that would allow everyone to eat everything. Therefore, the meal was:
Here's what I came up with:
- Kosher for Passover
In an oversimplified nutshull, this means no wheat, oats, barley, rye, or spelt that has not been first made into matzah, and no rice, millet, corn, beans, or legumes. All ingredients must be either fresh produce or packaged products that have been certified by a rabbinic authority. The kitchen must also be specially prepared for the holiday.
Note: When an ingredient below says "Passover" before it, it's because the year-round version of the product is usually made with grain vinegar, soybean oil, corn syrup, or prohibited spices. You should buy the product in the Passover aisle and check for the "Kosher for Passover" certification.
Matzah Ball Soup
Adapted from Sarah Kagen and Epicurious
This is a traditional vegetarian matzah ball soup recipe, except that I substituted oat matzah meal for the usual wheat.
Matzah may only be made from wheat, oats, barley, rye, or spelt. Of these five grains, only oats have no gluten. There is only one source for oat matzah that has been supervised and certified during the entire harvesting, milling, and baking process, both to ensure compliance with Jewish law and to prevent contamination by gluten-containing grains. The matzah, and particularly the matzah meal, is often only be available in the weeks before Passover.
If you buy vegetable stock in a box or can, be sure that it's kosher for Passover. Making it yourself is a bit of work, but it will be much lower in sodium and probably less expensive. I was so excited to eat the matzah balls by the time the soup was done that I forgot to take a picture. The oat matzah balls looked pretty much like regular wheat matzah balls, though, just darker.
Makes 8-10 large bowls of soup, each with 2 or 3 matzah balls.
- 9 onions, chopped
- 9 tablespoons unsalted, margarine
- 6 leeks (white and pale green parts only, not the leaves or stringy root), chopped
- 6 carrots, chopped
- 6 celery ribs, chopped
- 3/4 pound mushrooms, stems removed, chopped
- 3 cups potato peelings
- 36 1/3 cups cold water
- 18 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 1 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
- 3 bay leaves
- 36 long fresh parsley sprigs
- 3 teaspoon salt
- In a large stockpot or kettle, cook the onions in the margarine over moderate heat, stirring, until golden.
- Add the leeks, carrots, celery, mushrooms, potato peelings, and 1/3 cup water and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
- Add the remaining 12 cups of water, and the garlic, peppercorns, thyme, bay leaf, parsley, and salt, and bring to a boil.
- Simmer the mixture, uncovered, for 2 hours.
- Pour stock through a fine sieve into another kettle to keep hot and serve soon, or into a heatproof bowl to cool and store. The stock will keep in the refrigerator for one week or frozen for three months.
- Reserve 4 cups of stock for use in the Quinoa Pilaf recipe, below.
- 8 large eggs, separated
- 2 teaspoon salt
- Dash cayenne pepper
- 3 teaspoons onion powder
- 4 tablespoons unsalted margarine, melted
- 2 cups oat matzah meal
- In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks, and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, salt, cayenne pepper, onion, and margarine..
- Fold in the egg whites until just combined.
- Gently fold in the matzah meal in several additions.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Bring the vegetable stock to a boil.
- Wet your hands with cold water and roll the matzah mixture into 3/4 inch balls, using as little pressure as possible.
- After all the balls are formed, drop them into the boiling stock.
- Return the stock to a boil, then reduce heat.
- Cover and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, then serve.
- You can serve the soup with cooked, sliced carrots and parsnips, and garnish with parsley or dill.
- If you won't be serving the soup on the day you make it, prepare the matzah balls in salted water instead of the stock, drain them well, and refrigerate separately from the stock.
Mandarin Spinach Salad
This salad is very light and quick, but adds a splash of color early on in the meal.
- 1 bag pre-rinsed baby spinach leaves
- 1 small can mandarin oranges (no syrup added)
- 4 oz dried cranberries (a.k.a "craisins")
- 2 oz silvered almonds
- Passover salad dressing, such as raspberry vinagrette or balsamic vinagrette
- Arrange a handful of spinach leaves on each plate.
- Top with several slices of orange.
- Sprinkle cranberries and almonds.
- Serve with dressing.
Adapted from Adeena Sussman
This is a traditional charoset recipe, but with white grape juice instead of wine. Charoset is eaten with maror (bitter herb) during the part of the seder before the meal, but during the meal it's eaten on matzah or salad, or as a side with any other food.
- 3 medium Gala or Fuji apples, peeled, cored, and finely diced
- 1 1/2 cups walnut halves lightly toasted, cooled, and chopped
- 1/2 cup white grape juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and serve.
Mock Chopped Liver
Adapted from Julie Hasson
Mock chopped liver (also known as vegetarian pâté) may not taste exactly like the real thing, but it still tastes great and it's much, much better for you. Most recipes use green beans or lentils, but during Passover be sure to use mushrooms instead. You can serve this year-round with matzah or crackers, use it as a vegetable dip, or put it on sandwiches. My family practically eats it by the spoonful.
Makes 3-4 cups
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 5 cups sliced mushrooms, rinsed well and patted dry
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 cups walnuts
- Salt and white pepper, to taste
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat.
- Add the mushrooms and onions, and sauté until the onions soften and become translucent. Pour off any excess water that comes out of the vegetables.
- Sprinkle sugar over the mixture, and continue to cook until the onions are caramelized, reducing heat as necessary so that the onions don’t burn.
- Remove the skillet from heat.
- Pulse the walnuts in a food processor until they are finely chopped.
- Add the onion and mushroom mixture to the food processor, and pulse until the mixture is smooth.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve, and serve at room temperature or slightly chilled (not cold). Garnish with paprika, parsley, baby tomatoes, etc.
Garlic Roasted Potatoes
By Sue L. ("Lorie")
This is a wonderful and simple way to jazz up potatoes year-round. The recipe uses a crazy amount of garlic, but it mellows considerably when it roasts. It's worth the investment in a garlic peeler, or you'll spend forever peeling the cloves. Don't worry so much about the measurements -- just eyeball everything based on how many people you need to feed. The goal is to have one bite of garlic with each bite of potato.
- 2 pounds tiny russian fingerling potatoes, or any baby potatoes chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 6 bulbs of garlic, cloves peeled and separated (larger cloves halved)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- Toss all ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir until coated.
- Place the potatoes and garlic onto a foil-lined baking sheet, using a slotted spoon to avoid transferring excess oil.
- Bake at 400° F for 45 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Check and stir several times to avoid burning the garlic.
- Remove from baking sheet to serving bowl with slotted spoon, again to avoid transferring excess oil.
- Adjust seasonings if necessary, and serve hot.
Toasted Quinoa Pilaf
Adapted from Gluten-Free Bay
This is a very interesting and tasty recipe. Quinoa (pronounced "KEEN-wa") resembles couscous or tabouli and acts like a grain, but it's actually a grass seed and therefore perfectly kosher for Passover. It also happens to be very high in protein and cooks quickly. You can find it in any grocery store -- it's not a Passover product per se.
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup onions, very finely chopped
- 12 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
- 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
- 4 cups vegetable stock from matzah ball soup recipe above
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 large carrot, shredded
- 2 cups finely shredded kale
- 1 Tbsp Passover tomato paste
- 1/3 cup celery, minced
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- Check the quinoa box and rinse according to the instructions if necessary. Some quinoa is pre-rinsed.
- Place the uncooked quinoa in a heavy, large skillet over medium heat. Cook for about 15 minutes, shaking the pan frequently to move the quinoa around. Cook until the quinoa becomes golden brown. Remove from heat.
- Heat oil in the bottom of a medium saucepan.
- Add the onions and sautee until just beginning to brown.
- Add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Add the quinoa and sautee for another minute.
- Add vegetable stock, carrot, kale, tomato paste, thyme, and black pepper..
- Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- In the dry skillet, lightly toast the pine nuts over medium-low heat. Remove when golden brown and be careful not to burn them.
- Add the celery and mix well, then cover and continue cooking for 5 minutes or until the quinoa is tender and the spiral-like germ has separated from the rest of the grain.
- Stir in the toasted pine nuts and serve hot or at room temperature.
Adapted from Karina Allrich
There are a lot of ways to make a vegetarian loaf, but this one is also gluten-free. The sauce is very good and helps keep the flavors interesting. The loaf doesn't present very well, but it tastes good.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 5 portabella mushrooms, cut into large pieces
- 2-3 large leaves Swiss chard, spinach or other greens
- 1 roasted red pepper, drained
- 1 carrot, cut up
- 3/4 cup quinoa, cooked per directions on box
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 2 tsp Italian Herbs or dried basil/thyme/sage
- 1 Tbs Passover balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbs molasses
- 1 1/2 tsp Passover curry powder or similar spices
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2/3 cup real maple syrup
- 1 cup Passover ketchup
- 4 tsp Passover honey mustard
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- Heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet and cook the portobellos and greens until soft.
- Remove from heat; cool a bit; and pulse with the roasted pepper in the food processor until roughly diced.
- Scrape into a large mixing bowl.
- Process the carrot, cooked quinoa, almonds, and walnuts until coarse, and add to mixing bowl.
- Add the basil, thyme, sage, balsamic vinegar, molasses, and 1/2 tsp curry powder, and mix.
- Add the beaten egg and stir the mixture until well blended.
- Press the mixture evenly into an oiled loaf pan.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, ketchup, honey mustard, nutmeg, brown sugar, and remaining 1 tsp curry powder to make a sauce.
- Pour most of the sauce over the loaf and bake for about 45 minutes, until the loaf is firm and done.
- If you are making the loaf far in advance and will be refrigerating and reheating it, use the remaining sauce to freshen the top during the last 10 or 15 minutes in the oven.
- Allow the loaf to rest before serving, or the pieces will be very difficult to slice. You pretty much have to serve from the loaf pan (i.e. don't try to put the slices on a serving plate first).
Adapted from Ellen
"Tsimmes" means "a big to-do" in Yiddish, and this recipe is basically a "a big to-do" of colors and flavors. You can use just about any dried fruits you like.
- 2 large carrots, peeled
- 2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled
- 2 oz. dried apple rings
- 2 oz. dried mango
- 2 oz. dried pineapple
- 1 ½ oz. crystallized ginger
- 4 oz. dried plums
- 2 oz. dried cherries
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
- Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup orange juice
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut all the solids into one-inch pieces, and dice the ginger.
- Mix all the ingredients in a large casserole dish or roasting pan.
- Bake 2 – 2 ½ hours, covered.
- After two hours, make sure there is still some liquid remaining. If not, and if the veggies are soft enough, do not bake any longer. If the veggies aren’t soft enough yet, add another 1/2 cup of orange juice and continue baking.
Sweet Noodle Kugel
By Hope Trachtenberg-Fifer
This is a classic dairy noodle kugel, without the classic dairy or noodles.
Non-dairy Passover whipped topped substitutes admirably for the traditional cottage cheese and sour cream. You can use whatever fruits you like; I used pineapple and apricots at my mother's request, but golden raisins and diced apples are also popular.
Several companies make Passover noodles, but the best ones for kugel are Manischewitz Wide Egg Noodles. Make sure they say "Kosher for Passover," because the same manufacturer may also make year-round noodles and most grocery stores don't notice the difference. If you need to avoid gluten, make sure the noodles are made from potato flour and not matzah meal.
No matter what kind of Passover noodles you use, they're going to be gloppy and very difficult to work with. Read the directions carefully, but plan to boil the noodles for less time than directed (probably just two or three minutes) and use more oil in the water than directed. The moment you empty the noodles from the pot, add more oil or margarine and mix well to keep the noodles from sticking together. Mix the noodles in the colander to drain them -- do not let them sit to drain. For best results, don't cook the noodles until you've mixed all the other ingredients in the mixing bowl. This way, you can pour the noodles into the bowl immediately after draining them, and let the mixture get between the noodles.
I made this kugel two days in advance, and I think the time in the refrigerator helped everything firm up together.
- 16 oz. Passover noodles
- 2 cups Passover whipped topping (such as Kineret brand), thawed and whipped a bit to thicken, but not whipped all the way to whipped cream
- 1½ cup unsalted margarine, melted
- 1½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 5 eggs, beaten
- 1 20 oz. can pineapple tidbits in own juice, well drained
- 4 oz. dried apricots, diced
- 1/4 cup cinnamon sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease a 9” by 13” casserole dish or baking pan
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except noodles and cinnamon sugar.
- Cook the noodles, keeping in mind the notes above.
- As soon as the noodles are drained, mix them into the bowl.
- Pour from the bowl into the prepared pan.
- Sprinkle on top with the cinammon sugar.
- Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes, removing foil during last 5 minutes or so, or until golden brown, if not already browned.
Raspberry and Strawberry Sorbet
I just bought Klein's kosher for Passover sorbet (no corn syrup), in raspberry and strawberry. Serve with Passover whipped topping and chocolate chips.
Chocolate and Chocolate Chip Macaroons
Some Manischewitz macaroon flavors use matzah meal (which contains gluten) and some don't. I bought chocolate and chocolate chip, which use only potato starch and coconut.
Also during Passover 2008, I attended a black-tie political dinner at the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City. I have been to countless of these events, and as a vegetarian I'm often lucky to wind up with a plate of steamed vegetables.
So when I asked for a vegetarian Passover meal, I was astounded to be presented with homemade matzah pasta and sauce! I want to recognize Banquet Chef Jeune for truly going above and beyond.
B'te'avon, and L'shanah haba'ah b'Yerushalayim!