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Passover Seder Recipes: Rituals Refreshed

The Passover feast, or seder (from the Hebrew word for “order”), is centered on many symbolic foods—such as unleavened bread (matzo) and dessert, haroset, and bitter greens, among others. In that vein, our menu features those items along with a host of Middle Eastern flavors. We put the emphasis on ease of preparation, to allow you more time with friends and family.

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Photography by: Stephen Kent Johnson
Little stuffed Cornish hens (each one split to serve two guests) make a lovely alternative to one large roast.

The Menu

Herb Relish (Schug) and Matzo
Haroset-Stuffed Hens with Gravy and Sweet Potatoes
Bitter-Greens Salad
Passover Chocolate-Walnut Cake with Orange

Tastes of Tradition

Matzo, an unleavened flatbread, reminds us of the Jews’ hurried flight from Egypt. According to tradition, there was no time to wait for dough to rise, so it was carried into the desert, where the harsh sun baked it into a cracker-like texture. (And since it is forbidden to eat standard flours during Passover, matzo is also often used in desserts, as with the chocolate cake here.)

 

Haroset, a mixture of apples or other fruit, nuts, and spices, signifies both the hardships of slavery (its texture evokes the bricks and mortar used by the Israelites) and the sweetness of liberation. While it’s commonly served as a condiment (much like chutney), haroset flavors the stuffing tucked into the Cornish hens in our menu.

 

Although the bitter herb at the seder table— meant to symbolize the bitterness of slavery— is often horseradish or romaine lettuce, in the Sephardic (or Mediterranean) Jewish tradition, it can also be an assertive green, one with bite. Hence we included an herb relish made with parsley and cilantro, as well as a salad composed of escarole, radicchio, and frisée.

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Photography by: Stephen Kent Johnson
In this casual family-style seder, everything—relish, salad, and main course—is served together.
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Photography by: Stephen Kent Johnson
Stiffly beaten egg whites give loft to this unleavened cake. The delicious toppings make it feel celebratory.