The beauty of the Sephardic Seder is not just the punchy flavors and bounty of spices that represent the breadth of Mediterranean cuisine . . . It’s that, as Sephardic Jews, we get something over our Ashkenazi brethren on Passover: a pass on eating foods that are deemed “kitniyot” (which is literally Hebrew for “legumes” but denotes a broader range of foods prohibited from consumption during the holiday), including rice, corn, beans, lentils, and various seeds.
Whether you are a Sephardic Jew or just want to celebrate Passover like one, here are some dishes that make for a delicious Seder.
If you want to kick things off with a soup, get our Cauliflower-Parsnip Soup with Beet Crisps recipe. A creamy vegetable blend makes an excellent dairy-free starter: just replace the butter with oil if you’re serving any meat, to maintain a kosher meal. Crispy beet chips are an interesting twist on a vegetable that’s commonly served during Passover.
Holiday Honey Chicken with Fruit
Roast chicken is a holiday mainstay. This version hits the sweet and sour notes typical of Middle Eastern cuisine thanks to the addition of dried fruit, honey, and orange. Use your matzoh to sop up all the delicious juices! Get our Holiday Honey Chicken with Fruit recipe.
For an alternative main course (and an alternative to serving traditional brisket, too), try our Stuffed Fish with Pomegranate recipe. This is a showstopper. Infused with Persian flavors like pomegranate, saffron, and candied orange peel, and garnished with walnuts and pomegranate seeds, it may as well replace the Seder plate as a centerpiece.
And for a meatless dish, try our Olive, Tomato, and Millet-Stuffed Zucchini recipe. Millet is one of those often-overlooked grains that happen to be kosher for Passover for Sephardic Jews. Stuffing zucchini with a Mediterranean medley of veggies with millet makes for an entrée hearty enough to satisfy your vegan or vegetarian guests.
Shaved Carrot Salad
This carrot salad is a little bit Moroccan, a little bit Middle Eastern, and a whole lot delicious. Shaved carrots are spiced with fiery harissa (a hot pepper paste), earthy cumin, and fragrant caraway, brightened by fresh mint and parsley, enlivened with a kick of lemon juice, and finished with tangy, creamy crumbled feta. With all sorts of intriguing textures, beautiful colors, and wonderful flavors, this salad could steal the wow factor from your meal’s main protein. It’s just that good. Get our Shaved Carrot Salad recipe.
Or, try our Spinach with Raisins and Pine Nuts recipe. This classic Catalan dish is a nod to the Jews of Spain. Garlicky spinach coated in good olive oil meets sweet, plump raisins and golden pine nuts for a side dish that won’t be overlooked.
This recipe for charoset (a spread intended to represent the mortar the Jews used to lay the bricks for Egypt’s pyramids) combines a traditional Ashkenazi recipe (which relies on apples and walnuts) with the dates, figs and orange zest of the Sephardic version. Get our Ashkephardic Charoset recipe.
To round out the main meal, try our Saffron Steamed Plain Basmati Rice recipe. A staple of the Persian diet, the long grains of this basmati rice are extra fluffy thanks to a parboil-and-steam method. The crispy bottom of the rice, called tahdig, is a special treat. If you’re keeping kosher, leave out the yogurt if you are serving any dishes with meat.
Grilled Fig and Orange Blossom Sundaes
This ice cream sundae is a nod to the Persian Jewish tradition of ending Passover with a dairy dish. Pistachios, honey, and orange blossom meet grilled figs for a flavorful ice cream topping that will end your Seder on a bright note. Get our Grilled Fig and Orange Blossom Sundae recipe.
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