Hosting Your First Passover

Because your ancestors had it harder than you, so honor them

Why is this night different from all other nights? Because it’s your first Seder. This menu can largely be made ahead

(see below for tips on how), bursts with spring flavors, yet still honors tradition (nothing leavened, a bit of schmaltz, some chicken livers). For info on all the associated customs, here’s a Seder tip sheet. And if you don’t celebrate Passover, don’t discount the recipes: The flavors here are so delicious you’ll want to whip up these dishes regardless.

Starter: Chopped Chicken Livers

First Course: Bitter Greens Salad with Caper Vinaigrette

Main Dish: Braised Lamb Shanks with Mint-Parsley Pesto
Side Dish: Potato and Parsnip Mash

Dessert: Passover Orange Angel Food Cake with Strawberries

Make-Ahead Tips

  • This dish can be made a day ahead and stored covered in the refrigerator.

    Chicken Livers

  • Wash your greens for the salad up to four days ahead and keep them wrapped in damp paper towels in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator. The vinaigrette can also be made up to four days in advance; just toss it with the salad at the last minute.


  • The shanks can be braised up to two days ahead. Cover and store them in the refrigerator, and warm them up over medium-low heat on the stove when you’re ready to eat. The pesto can also be made up to two days ahead and stored covered in the refrigerator—but don’t add it to the lamb until the last minute so the flavor is nice and bright.


  • The mash can be made up to two hours ahead. Keep it covered on the stove over low heat or place it in a slow cooker on low.


  • The angel food cake can be made a day in advance—leave it in the pan, cover it, and store it at room temperature for up to 24 hours. The strawberries can be prepared up to one hour ahead.


For an alternative menu, check out our Southern Seder.
And see gefilte fish made from scratch.

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