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What to Eat During Passover

What is Passover?

Passover is a Jewish festival that is celebrated for eight days in early spring. It is celebrated from the 15th to the 22nd of the Hebrew month of Nissan. This year, the beginning of Passover falls on the 18th of April, and it ends on the 26th.

This festival is perhaps one of the most significant in the Jewish culture as it commemorates the time when the Israelites gained their freedom from being slaves in Egypt. As history tells it, at midnight on the 15th day of Nissan, God brought forth the 10th and last plague upon the Egyptians. It was the worst and strongest of all the plagues – the death of the firstborn in each house. To protect the firstborn of the Israelites from death, God passed over their homes that night. This is where the name of the festival comes from.

Today, Passover continues to be celebrated all over the world, to give tribute to the miracle that happened thousands of years ago.

The Seder

Seder PlateThe Seder is the highlight of the Passover. It is a 15-step tradition that the entire family has to go through and is celebrated on the first two nights of the holiday. Basically, the Seder is a feast that comes with a host of rituals. There are certain food items that are considered to be part of the Seder Plate.

  1. The Shank Bone
  2. The Egg
  3. The Bitter Herbs
  4. The Paste
  5. The Vegetable
  6. The Lettuce

Passover Recipes

An inherent aspect of celebrating Passover are the meals prepared throughout the duration of the holiday. Here are some dishes that you will most likely see served during Passover.

Traditional Passover Recipes

Borsht/Borscht

Cabbage BorshtBorsht, or borscht, is a soup that is traditionally made with beetroot. This main ingredient gives the soup a purplish-red color.

There are many varieties of borsht/borscht, with the ingredients varying depending on the location. Instead of beetroot, vegetables such as cabbage may be used. Tomatoes are also added to the soup. In other cases, meat is used as a main ingredient as well. Borsht/borscht may also be served hot or cold. There is also another kind of borsht/borscht called sorrel soup, which takes on a green color. The former version is what you will most likely see in a Passover feast, though.

Here are some recipes for the different kinds of borsht/borscht:

  1. Cabbage Borsht (shown in the image above)
  2. Cold Beet Borsht
  3. Meat Rossel Borsht

Matzah

MatzahMatzah is unleavened bread that is eaten during Passover because of the fact that leavened products are not allowed during this period. Matzah is made of plain white flour and water, with a little salt added. The result is a hard bread that is almost like a cracker. Matzah is also called matza, matzoh, and matze.

The use of matzah during Passover has a two-fold meaning. First, it symbolizes freedom and redemption – going back to the essence of Passover, when the Egyptian Pharaoh gave his permission for the Israelites to go free. Second, it serves as a reminder that the people have to be humble, matzah being considered as a poor man’s bread.

Here’s how to make Matzah.

Matzah Balls

Matzah BallsMatzah balls are actually dumplings and are rather different from the bread of the same name. Matzah balls do use matzah meal, though, but that’s where the similarity ends.

These dumplings are seasoned with salt. Sometimes, pepper and spices such as cinnamon are also added. For some families, chicken stock or fat is also used for more flavor. Matzah balls can be served on their own or in a broth as matzah ball soup. Here is a recipe for your own Matzah Balls.

Other Passover Recipes

Passover Zucchini-Stuffed Chicken

Passover Zucchini-Stuffed ChickenChicken is a regular in Passover tables. The beauty of chicken is that you can do practically whatever you want with it, and as long as you follow traditional Jewish cooking rules, then you can create a feast with countless chicken dishes.

As in many things, though, simplicity is beauty, and if you want to serve chicken during this period, here is a great idea: Passover Zucchini-Stuffed Chicken. As simple as this dish is to make, it is also healthy and tasty – making sure that everyone at the table will be satisfied.

Passover Leek and Olive Bites

Passover Leek and Olive BitesEvery meal has to start with a good appetizer. While lots of people look forward to the main course, it is always nice to take it slow and easy.

When you prepare those countless – and humongous – meals during this year’s Passover, why don’t you give this recipe a try?Passover Leek and Olive Bites. All you need are some crackers (kosher for Passover ones, of course), some olives, leeks, and well – check out the ingredients. ;)

Passover Brisket

Passover BrisketBrisket refers to a cut of beef or veal. It is usually taken from the breast or lower chest part. What you need to know about brisket – other than it is very good – is that it actually comes from the body part which supports a lot of weight. That means it can be tough, so it needs to be prepared correctly – tenderizing the meat being the goal

You don’t have to break your back cooking brisket for Passover, though. Here’s an easy way to make Passover Brisket. Easy it may be, but you’ll win your way to your guests’ hearts with this dish.

Passover Desserts

Passover is not all about depriving yourself of tasty treats. If anything, it is quite the opposite! Here are some Passover-worthy desserts that will tickle your taste buds pink!

Passover Cobbler

Passover CobblerCobbler is a common dessert that is made all over the world. It has countless variations, but cobbler basically refers to a dish made with fruit (or fruits), covered with pastry, and then baked.

For Passover, you can make your own version of cobbler with whatever fruits you want – pear, apple, strawberry, etc. Just make sure to get your hands on some matzah meal (there it is again!) and kosher for Passover vegetable and you’ll be good to go. Here are the details for Passover Cobbler.

Passover Lemon Sponge Cake with Strawberry-Kiwi Compote

Passover Lemon Sponge Cake with Strawberry-Kiwi CompoteA good cake is always good to top off a good meal. If you are having a lot of guests over, and you may not be sure as to their individual preferences, you can go simple and prepare lemon sponge cake. You really can’t go wrong with that.

This version of lemon sponge cake has a fresh twist to it, though: Passover Lemon Sponge Cake with Strawberry-Kiwi Compote. In case you are wondering, compote is a French word meaning mixture. It sounds exotic, but it simply means fruit (sliced fruit or whole fruit) in sugar syrup. With the Strawberry-Kiwi Compote, you make the ordinary lemon sponge cake something else!

Passover Mocha Cake Recipe

Passover Mocha Cake RecipeIf you want something a little richer than lemon sponge cake, then go for chocolate! The good news is that you can have all the chocolate that you want during Passover. You wouldn’t want to go overboard, of course, but some chocolate in your cake might just be what will make you a hit during the festivities.

This Passover Mocha Cake Recipe requires semi-sweet chocolate so it’s not really all that bad for your weight. It also has almonds and strawberries – definitely healthy! Of course, the ever present matzah/matzo cake meal has to be in there as well.

Whatever you decide to serve this Passover, what is important is the people around you and the reason for celebrating the holiday. Have a meaningful Passover, everyone!

Photo Credits: The Daily Green, Wikipedia, valkyrieh

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