Passover is in about 2 weeks 1 week 2 days tomorrow tonight, and for many people this is a time of year that they dread. I try to think of it as a fun challenge. I mean, look, I’m not that pollyanna, but it’s only 8 days, so why not embrace it? Use this opportunity to get back to basics, cook simply, and use fresh ingredients whenever possible.
I hosted the seders for my family for 3 (or maybe it was only 2?) years in a row and developed a few guiding principles to get me through the ordeal family gathering. We had a lot of the food catered, but I made many salads, soups, and desserts. And I vowed to never buy a boxed pesadik cake mix again!
My Passover philosophy is pretty simple:
- fresh fruits
- roasted veggies
- interesting salads
- recipes that are normally made flour-free
- forget the matzah once the seders are over
Over the next 2 weeks, I will introduce you to my favorite Passover recipes but I wanted to compile the recipes already on my site that you can use as you plan your not-so-traditional seders.
I am Ashkenazi, therefore, I have not included any recipes that include kitniot (translated as legumes and includes beans, peas, peanuts, corn, rice). As the old joke goes, if anyone knows a Sephardic Dutch man (eats kitniot + only waits 1 hour between meat and milk…) who is tall, brilliant, sensitive …you know what to do.
I have color coded the recipes the traditional colors for dairy, meat, or parve. And pink for fancy cocktails (who gets to make cocktails over Passover unless you’re in South Beach?)
- Meatballs with Saffron Sunset Sauce/Chems al Aachi/Boulettes de Viande et Sauce Crépuscule – a Moroccan dish with a saffron-infusion that is in the meatballs and in the sauce; make with matzah meal instead of bread crumbs for Passover. NOTE – I have seen on one website that saffron is listed as kitniot under the category of seeds, but this does not make sense, since saffron is the dried stigma of a crocus flower. Check with your rabbi if you are unsure.
- Baked Brie sans Croûte with Caramelized Onions — great for a lunch with friends (just make with a smaller brie — Les Petites Fermieres - ”the little farmgirls” makes an O-K hechshered brie that is specifically kosher for Pesach) — thank you to Caroline in Atlanta for pointing out that this would make a great Passover dish
- Parmesan Crisps - these crisps are great to add to a soup to make it seem fancier than it is; NOTE, the Kale and White Bean Soup that I made these to accompany is NOT kosher for Passover for Askenazim and others who do not eat kitniot
- Salade Mira-Noa - the only adaptation required to make this pesadik is to leave out the za’atar since it contains hyssop and sesame (seeds) and therefore kitniot; a reader, Ariela, shared her preference for cilantro in this type of salad and I think it sounds perfect!
- Monochromatic Fennel and Pistachio Salad - This is the salad that opened me up to anise flavors. From a Passover standpoint, I believe it’s OK, but there’s one little glitch that I believe is just a little nomenclature mix-up. “Fennel” is listed as kitniot, but this must be referring to fennel seeds, NOT fennel bulbs, fronds, etc. So, I’m fairly comfortable putting this salad up here. After all, the whole seeds as kitniot is largely a ma’arat eyin (inspiring a false visual impression – since seeds can look like grains; eyin means eye) issue, not “ma’arat oznayim” (my made-up terminology… inspiring a false auditory impression; oznayim means ears). But, double check with your rabbi.
- Carrot-Coriander-Cilantro Soup - Just leave out the coriander (a seed and therefore kitniot). Note, does require an immersion blender, but you can buy an inexpensive one for Passover only (I keep mine parve) and this will really transform your culinary experience for the whole week
- Chocolate & Zucchini’s Cauliflower Soup with Turmeric and Hazelnuts/Soupe de Chou-Fleur, Curcuma, et Noisette - I made this for my “noodles and nuggets” meal and it was a big hit with some of the kids; again, requires an immersion blender
Cocktails: we might have 4 cups of wine at the seder, but who doesn’t need a good cocktail later in the week?
- Lavender Cosmopolitan – try it with a splash of some fresh juice (cranberry juice is usually not K for P becuase it contains corn syrup)
- Basil Lemon Drop – all fresh fruits, herbs – perfect for Passover!
Here’s the deal – both of these drinks use vodka which can be found for Passover (made from potatoes). The following brands can be found with an OU-P for passover: Binyamina, Carmel, Yikvei Zion, and Kedem. Make a simple syrup (bring to boil water and sugar in 2:1 ratio until dissolves) and infuse with whatever herbs you desire.
- Roasted Squash Seeds - if you make something with squash, don’t throw out the seeds, but clean and roast them
- Sugared and Spiced Nuts – make these with sugar and cinnamon which is easy to find in Passover and thrown on salad, or just keep in a bowl on the table and serve with dessert
Also, I have found that Passover is a great time to stock up on some pantry basics because many grocery stores carry more than their usual supply of kosher ingredients. For example, Passover 2008 was the first year that I ever saw Traverso white balsamic vinegar from Chile (see Resources). And many olive oils and balsamics emerge from the woodwork as well. Think of this as a time to explore (while you’re bemoaning everything else…)
Here is a picture of the K for P spices I saw on a recent trip to Kosher Marketplace in NYC:
The spices on display here are made by Pereg and are, in alphabetical order:
(whole) chile peppers
(Mexican) chili powder
cinnamon sticks and ground cinnamon
(ground) cumin – ONLY FOR THOSE WHO EAT KITNIOT
(hot red) paprika
(sweet red) paprika
(ground black) pepper
(whole black) pepper
(ground white) pepper
various spice mixes