Keep the menu simple. Have a main dish, sides, salad, and dessert. Some people roast lambs, smoke briskets, or make casseroles to share. Church groups tend to potluck-it which is great. Others challenge their friends to bring Jewish-themed dishes. Pinterest is a WONDERFUL resource for more authentic Passover menus too.
Also, as Christians we are not bound by Jewish dietary rules or customs – so don’t get hung up on being “Kosher.” If you have Jewish people attending your Seder, let them know, you aren’t following the Kosher customs they may be used to.
The key idea is to spend time together focused on the true meaning of Resurrection Sunday – Jesus came and became our Passover Lamb! Below are some of our favorite recipes.
Green Salad with Strawberries & Balsamic Vinegar
(Recipe from Passover Recipes – Gourmet Kosher Cooking: gourmetpassovercooking.com)
4 teaspoons strawberry jam
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 pint strawberries, sliced
2 scallions, sliced
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
4 to 5 cups chopped romaine or mixed greens of any kind
Place jam in a medium bowl and whisk in vinegar then olive oil. Season the dressing with salt and pepper. Add the strawberries, scallions almonds and greens to bowl and toss to coat evenly in dressing.
Grilled Leg of Lamb (Serves 8)
(From Gourmet Magazine June 2007)
4 large garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
5 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 (6 1/2- to 7-lb) bone-in leg of lamb, trimmed of all but a thin layer of fat
Mince garlic, then mash to a paste with salt. Stir together garlic paste, oil, lemon zest and juice, thyme, pepper, and allspice. Put lamb, fat side up, in a large ceramic or glass dish. Using a paring knife, make 1 1/2-inch-long slits (about 2 inches deep) 2 inches apart all over leg. Reserve 1 teaspoon thyme mixture and push remainder into slits, then rub all over with reserved teaspoon of mixture. Marinate lamb, covered and chilled, 12 hours.
Let lamb stand at room temperature 30 minutes before grilling.
Prepare grill for indirect-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (high heat for gas). If using a gas grill, preheat all burners on high, covered, 10 minutes, then turn off all burners except burner closest to you.
Oil grill rack, then grill lamb over area with no coals (or over turned-off burner or burners), covered, without turning, until thermometer inserted into thickest part of roast (almost to the bone but not touching it) registers 125°F for medium-rare, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours (temperatures in thinner parts of leg may register up to 160°F). To maintain medium-hot charcoal, add more charcoal (about 2 cups) every 15 minutes.
Let lamb stand on a cutting board, uncovered, 30 minutes.
If you aren't able to grill outdoors, lamb can be roasted on a rack set in a large (17- by 11-inch) roasting pan in a 375°F oven, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.
Roasted Garlic Asparagus (Serves 6)
(By Susie Fishbein, Epicurious, March 2011)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons fresh finely chopped parsley
2 pounds thin asparagus, ends trimmed
Fleur de sel or coarse sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Line a large jelly-roll pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a small pot, heat the oil, garlic, onion powder, and parsley on medium-low heat. Cook for 3 minutes, until the garlic mixture is fragrant but not browned.
Spread the asparagus in a single layer on the prepared pan. Lightly sprinkle with coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle on the garlic-oil mixture.
Roast for 8-10 minutes, until the asparagus are bright green; do not overcook.
Transfer to a platter and serve hot.
Wild Rice with Mushrooms (Serves 8 to 10)
(Recipe from Bon Appetit Magazine November 2001)
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
4 large onions (about 2 3/4 pounds), halved, thinly sliced
1 1/4 pounds assorted wild mushrooms (such as crimini and stemmed shiitake), sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
5 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
3 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1 1/3 cups wild rice (about one 8-ounce package)
1 1/4 cups long-grain white rice
1 3/4 cups coarsely chopped dried pears (about 7 ounces; optional)
3/4 to 1 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Add dried pears for subtle sweetness
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until very tender and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Transfer onions to large bowl. Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in same pot over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and 1 tablespoon thyme; sauté until mushrooms are deep brown, about 12 minutes. Add to bowl with onions. Season with salt and pepper.
Bring broth, 1 tablespoon thyme, and 2 teaspoons sage to boil in heavy large deep saucepan. Mix in wild rice; return to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 30 minutes. Mix in white rice; cover and simmer until all rice is tender and almost all liquid is absorbed, about 18 minutes longer. Stir in caramelized onions and mushrooms, remaining 1 tablespoon thyme, and 1 teaspoon sage.
Stir in pears, if desired. Cover and simmer 5 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in 3/4 cup parsley.
Matzoh Ball Soup
(Recipe by Joyce Goldstein from Fine Cooking Issue 44)
EASY Matzo Ball Soup: Purchase Matzo Ball Soup Mix in the Kosher Section of your grocery store. You can just add the chicken, carrots, celery, etc.
Or you can make it! The matzo balls can be made ahead and then warmed in the broth before serving. To turn this into a more filling meal, you could add cooked chicken, peas, or carrots.
4 large eggs
1/4 cup rendered chicken fat or fat reserved from the chicken broth, at room temperature
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
5 oz. (1-1/4 cups) matzo meal
7 cups Chicken Broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1/3 cup cold water. Add the rendered or reserved chicken fat and whisk until the fat blends in. Mix in the salt and pepper. Gradually but quickly stir in the matzo meal with a spoon; the mixture will be thick and stiff, like muffin batter. Don't overmix. Chill for at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours.
Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper and fill a bowl with cold water. Dip a large soupspoon in the water, and gently scoop up the chilled matzo mixture and shape it with your hands into 12 medium balls (about 1-3/4 inches in diameter) or 18 smaller ones (about 1-1/4 inches in diameter), being careful not to compact them. Put the matzo balls on the lined baking sheet. Cook immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 hour.
To cook the matzo balls, bring 1 or 2 large pots of salted water to a boil. Drop in the matzo balls, cover the pots, and reduce the heat after the water returns to a boil. Simmer, covered, until the matzo balls have doubled in size and have lightened all the way through (cut one in half to check) 30 to 40 minutes; drain. Cooked matzo balls can be held at room temperature for several hours.
To serve, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Taste for salt and pepper. Add the matzo balls and heat until they're hot in the middle, 8 to 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, put 2 medium or 3 small matzo balls in a warm soup bowl. Ladle in hot broth and sprinkle generously with the parsley. Serve right away.
Flourless Chocolate & Vanilla Marble Cake (Serves 16)
(by Abigail Johnson Dodge from Fine Cooking Issue 54)
For the vanilla batter:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
For the chocolate batter:
10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
5 oz. (10 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
3 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs. dark rum or espresso
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Pinch table salt
Cocoa powder for dusting
To slice the marble cake neatly, use a hot knife (run it under hot running water and dry it). Wipe the blade clean between slices.
Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 300°F. Lightly grease a 9x2-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment.
Make the vanilla batter: In a medium bowl, beat the softened cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and continue beating until well blended and no lumps remain. Add the egg and vanilla and beat just until blended. Set aside.
Make the chocolate batter: In a medium bowl, melt the chocolate and butter in a large metal bowl over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave. Whisk until smooth and set aside to cool slightly. With a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the eggs, sugar, rum or espresso, vanilla, and salt on medium high until the mixture is pale and thick, 3 to 4 min. With the mixer on low, gradually pour in the chocolate mixture and continue beating until well blended.
Combine and bake: Spread about half of the chocolate batter in the bottom of the pan. Alternately add large scoopfuls of each of the remaining batters to the cake pan. Using a knife or the tip of a rubber spatula, gently swirl the two batters together so they're mixed but not completely blended. Rap the pan against the countertop several times to settle the batters.
Bake until a pick inserted about 2 inches from the edge comes out gooey but not liquid, 40 to 42 min.; don't overbake. The top will be puffed and slightly cracked, especially around the edges. It will sink down as it cools. Let cool on a rack until just slightly warm, about 1-1/2 hours. Loosen the cake from the pan by holding the pan almost perpendicular to the counter; tap the pan on the counter while rotating it clockwise. Invert onto a large flat plate or board. Remove the pan and carefully peel off the parchment. Sift some cocoa powder over the cake (this will make it easier to remove the slices when serving). Invert again onto a similar plate so that the top side is up. Let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 4 hours or overnight, or freeze.