How to Prepare a Simplified Passover Seder Meal
Passover is a Jewish festival commemorating the Jews’ liberation from slavery and flight from Egypt. Although traditions differ from one another around the world, the fundamentals are as follows: The holiday lasts seven or eight days (depending on where it is observed), and the first night of Passover begins with a ceremonial dinner called a Seder, during which the story of the exodus is told.
The Passover Seder meal is a well-known tradition, but that doesn’t mean you have to make the meals in a completely conventional way.
Looking for Ingredients
You’ll need matzo whether you strictly adhere to Passover dietary restrictions or spend the week eating carbs as usual. Most years, these ingredients are readily available, but the panic-fueled shopping that has left toilet paper shelves empty has also reached the Passover aisle.
Begin sourcing now to ensure you have everything you need to cook! You can visit any Fresh Farms location to assemble everything on your shopping list. Meanwhile, prepare dishes with fresh ingredients that are naturally kosher for Passover, such as fruit, nearly all vegetables, quinoa, eggs, fish, chicken, and meat. Remember that you can use kosher wine, pareve margarine, and matzo meal if you prefer.
Preparing the Seder Plate
You can turn a large round plate into a cedar by simply adding a small bowl to hold the various iconic items you need. To commemorate the ancient Paschal sacrifice, families traditionally use a roasted lamb shank bone. If you can’t find one, a roasted chicken leg or wing will suffice. Some vegetarians have even started using roasted beets!
For the time being, charoset—a fruit and nut relish that represents the mortar used by the Israelites while enslaved in ancient Egypt—is naturally pantry-friendly. Apples, walnuts, cinnamon, and sweet wine or grape juice are the only ingredients used in the traditional Ashkenazi (Eastern European) recipe. However, if your pantry is more stocked with dried fruit, this Greek-inspired version will suffice.
Making a Scaled-Down Menu
Passover is the Thanksgiving of Jewish holiday feasts, with people going to great lengths to impress family and friends. However, while you want your seder to be festive and delicious, this may not be the year to braise a 6-pound brisket! Instead, choose dishes that are both comforting and easy to prepare.
- Matzo ball soup is a must, and you can keep it uncomplicated with an easy chicken broth (or your favorite mushroom broth if you want to keep it meatless), and some matzo balls from the matzo meal box recipe, and some dill. Alternatively, try this slightly fancier version, swirled with a Passover-appropriate dill-horseradish pistou.
- Braised chicken is an excellent choice, especially given how difficult it is to find brisket right now. And, with chicken thighs, you can easily scale up or down based on the number of people eating. The combination of rosemary, olives, and tomatoes gives this chicken-thigh braise holiday-caliber richness in just 30 minutes. This lemony, smoked paprika-spiced braise is both filling and straightforward. What if you don’t like olives? This braise is made with leeks, herbs, and fennel, which creates a very springy flavor profile.
- Braise a brisket if Passover just doesn’t feel like Passover without one! Gail Simmons’ horseradish-spiked recipe has just the right amount of zing to keep things interesting.
- Quinoa has been designated as a Passover grain, and it makes a delicious side dish without the need to peel potatoes for kugel. A light quinoa salad with roasted sweet potatoes, crunchy apples, and herbs is just what the doctor ordered.
- Asparagus is without a doubt one of the most elegant—and easiest to prepare—spring vegetables. Roasting makes this recipe even more hands-off, and you can jazz it up with some fresh lemon zest or a sprinkle of parsley.
- Chocolate Toffee Matzo has always been my favorite Passover dessert. Add fresh berries and citrus to taste, or simply enjoy it on its own.
Create Joyful Moments
It’s not easy to express in words. For many, this year’s Passover festival is characterized by the disappointment and sadness of not being around a loved one. So be gentle with yourself and look for moments of joy wherever you can find them. Set up a remote pre-seder cooking party in which you cook and converse with a friend or family member. Wear your favorite sweatpants to the seder (no one will notice online)! And, with each of the four glasses of wine, toast to someone at your virtual table so that your guests can feel the love even if they are thousands of miles apart.
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