Passover is a story told through food. From God’s “recipe” for the Israelites’ pre-flight meal-on-the-go to the way a slow braise evokes the decree to commemorate the successful getaway with a leisurely meal, the Seder table is rich with meaning.
See those adorable quail eggs? I’m not being trendy; I’m being biblical. When the Israelites were wandering hungry in the desert, God provided quail at night and manna in the morning. Last year, I got the idea from Adina Rimon to serve quail—instead of chicken—eggs to recall this passage in Exodus (16:13). Adina, who works with farmer Peter Schaner, who raises quail, chickens, and ducks, in addition to beautiful fruits and vegetables in north San Diego County, really knows her Bible. Very cool the way my weekly shopping and the story of Exodus had a moment together. The tiny speckled eggs were an enormous hit with four generations of my family and a great Passover conversation starter. And now, a new tradition at my house.
What tales does your Seder meal tell? Is your charoset built from apples or silan (date syrup)? Do you include or disallow legumes during the holiday week? Consider this: The foods you assume are definitive actually say more about you–your family story of origin and where you live–than about a Jewish culinary universality (which doesn’t really exist, since Jews went global thousands of years ago).
Or–do your holiday meals reveal menu fatigue? Whether you’re hosting your first Seder or your thirty-first, bringing a dish to share, or simply want something tasty to eat during Passover week, here are my go-to recipes and, for those of you who have SJK, page numbers to lots more. Enjoy, refresh, reboot, and–I hope–find food for thought about why we eat what we eat during Passover. For more ideas and holiday backstories that may surprise you, check out Four Ways to Build a Better Seder. Vegans, you’ll never again feel like the meatless poor relation.
The Seder Table
- Safta Rachel’s Iraqi Charoset
- Mom’s Sort-of-Ashkenazic Charoset (SJK, p. 170)
Soup & Starters
- My Family’s Matzah Ball Soup
- Pan-Roasted Fish with Green Almonds and Kumquats
- My Family’s Gefilte Fish (SJK, p. 172)
- Blistered Chicories with Tuna and Salsa Verde (SJK, p. 144)
- Bat-Sheva’s Horseradish (SJK, p. 174)
Sides & Salads
- Carrots and Radishes with Passover Herb Salsa Verde
- Spring Greens Sauté
- Roasted Carrot and Sweet Potato Tzimmes
- Herb Salad with Feta Cheese, Halvah, and Green Almonds (SJK, p. 176)
Kugels & Kigelach
- Mazzagna Verde
- Sweet Dairy Brunch Kugel
- Chicken and Artichoke Matzoh Pie With Eggs and Gremolata
- Savory Spring Leek Matzoh Kugel
- Kigelach with Long-Cooked Leeks
- Roast Chicken with Tangerines, Green Olives, and Silan
- Braised Lamb Shanks with Crisped Artichoke and Gremolata
- Pure and Simple Beef Brisket (SJK, p. 63)
- Green Garlic and Leek Matzah Brei with Smoked Salmon and Horseradish Cream
- Chocolate Pavlovas with Tangelo Sorbet and Seville Orange Sauce (SJK, p. 195)
- Rustic Almond-Orange Macaroons
- Meyer Lemon Sundae with Tangelos and Cara Caras
- Salted Almond and Chocolate Meringues with Matzah Shards (SJK, p. 197)