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Passover recipes from Michael Solomonov, Joan Nathan, Adeena Sussman, and more

Alana Newhouse
April 06, 2020
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No one needs to ask why the nights of Passover 2020 will be different than all others.

But just because the holiday is coming at a challenging moment doesn’t mean we can’t make it delicious. Whether it’s your first time hosting a seder, or you’re alone, or you’re dealing with limited ingredients, we have some very special people here to help.

Thanks to Jake Cohen, Fany Gerson, and Joan Nathan for coordinating, and to Ron Arazi, Pati Jinich, Leah Koenig, Alex Raij, Alon Shaya, Mike Solomonov, and Adeena Sussman for their recipes. Video editing by Laura Newman.

Moroccan Charoset Truffles with Dates, Almonds, and Apples, by Joan Nathan
lb almonds
lb pitted dates
apple, peeled, cored, and quartered
cup cinnamon for rolling
tsp dried ginger
  1. Put the almonds in a food processor with a steel blade and pulse until finely ground. Add the dates, apple, and ginger and continue pulsing until the apples form little pieces and the mixture comes together.
  2. Shape the mixture into balls the size of a large marble. Put the cinnamon in a bowl, and roll the balls in it. Serve 2 per person.

Yield: About 20 charoset balls, which will serve 10 people, the largest number that should be allowed at a Seder this year.

Sesame Nutmeg Mexican-Style Matzo Ball Soup, by Pati Jinich
½ cup matzo ball mix (or one 2-ounce store bought package)
1 Tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
2 fresh serrano or jalapeño chile, finely chopped (seeded if desired), plus more for garnish
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
⅛ tsp ground white pepper
½ tsp kosher or sea salt, or more to taste
2 large eggs
3 tsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp sparkling water
6-8 cups chicken broth, home-made or store-bought
1 lime, quartered, for garnish (optional)
finely chopped white onion to garnish (optional)
finely chopped fresh cilantro to garnish, optional
ripe avocado, peeled, halved and diced to garnish (optional)
  1. In a large bowl, combine the matzo ball mix, parsley, fresh chile, nutmeg, white pepper, and salt. Incorporate the vegetable and toasted sesame oil and mix well. Add the sparkling water and mix until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, when ready to cook the matzo balls, bring about 3 quarts salted water to a rolling boil in a large pot over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and keep at a steady simmer. With wet hands, shape the matzo ball mix into 1 to 1½-inch balls and gently drop them into the water. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until the matzo balls are completely cooked and have puffed up.
  3. Heat the chicken broth in a soup pot. When the matzo balls are ready, transfer them to the chicken broth.
  4. When ready to eat the soup, serve, let everyone garnish with onion, parsley, cilantro, chile, avocado and if desired, a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Serves 4 to 6

Mexican Gefilte Fish, by Fany Gerson

Tomato Sauce

2 lb tomatoes
1-2 clove garlic, unpeeled
3-4 guajillo chiles
1-2 dried chipotle or canned chipotle chiles
½ small white onion, coarsely chopped
kosher salt
avocado or vegetable oil, as needed

Fish Patties

½ small white onion
1 small carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 pound red snapper, carp, and/or flounder fillets, skinless and boneless, cut up in pieces
⅓ cup matzo meal
kosher salt, to taste
ground white pepper, to taste
pinch of sugar (optional)
1-2 eggs
avocado or vegetable oil, as needed

Tomato Sauce

  1. Heat oven to the broiler or hottest setting. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and put the tomatoes with the unpeeled garlic. Cook until the tomatoes are charred and blackened the garlic feels soft to the touch, about 10-15 minutes, turning as needed. In the meantime, remove the seeds and stems of the guajillos and put them with the dried chipotles, if using, in a skillet for about a minute on each side, pressing down, until its slightly glossy, and soak in hot water until soft, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the soaking liquid and reserve both the chiles and liquid. Once the tomatoes are cool, place in a blender, skins and all, along with one of the peeled garlics, onion, half of the chiles, and some salt. Puree until smooth. Add about ½ cup of the soaking liquid and blend. Taste and add more chile and the other garlic if you want. Blend, taste and, adjusting seasoning as needed. (you can leave chunky if you prefer).
  2. Heat about 2 Tbsp of oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat; Strain the tomato purée onto the pan and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so it’s at a simmer and continue cooking for 10 minutes, adjusting heat as needed and taste. If the sauce seems to thick add 1-1½ cups of water. While the sauce simmers, prepare the fish patties.

Fish Patties

  1. Coarsely chop the onion and carrot and then pulse in a food processor until finely chopped. Add fish and pulse until the fish is chopped but not mushy. (If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a meat grinder or chop by hand as finely as possible, and mix the rest by hand.)
  2. Move the fish mixture to a medium bowl and add matzo meal, salt, black pepper, and one egg. Mix well with your hands and add the other egg if the mixture feels too dry.
  3. Line a plate or sheet pan with some plastic wrap. Gently wet the palms of your hands lightly. Using your hands, mold the fish mixture into a 3-by-2-inch oval patty (about 2 ounces) and gently place on a platter. Repeat with the remaining fish mixture, dipping your hands in water as needed.
  4. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and put enough oil to cover about ½ an inch. Gently pan fry the fish ovals for a few minutes on each side until they are lightly browned and carefully submerge in the simmering sauce. Cook for abut 20 minutes until they are cooked through and serve warm. These can be made ahead of time and reheated.

Makes 6-8 patties

Seder Plate Salad with Roasted Lamb and Soft Cooked Eggs, by Alon Shaya
large (or 2 small) lamb shanks
teaspoons kosher salt, divided
tsp ground black pepper
sprig of rosemary
cup chicken broth or water
cup walnut pieces
apple, cored and sliced
large head of green leaf lettuce
tablespoons prepared horseradish
tablespoons whole grain mustard
tablespoons thinly sliced spring onions (or scallions)
tablespoons chopped parsley
tablespoon honey
lemons, zested and juiced
cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. Fill a small sauce pot up with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. With a spoon or ladle, gently lower the eggs into the water. Boil on medium heat for 8 minutes, then rinse under cold water until they are no longer hot and peel. Cut the eggs into quarters and set aside. The yolk should still be slightly runny. Feel free to cook the eggs for 11 minutes for a perfect hard boiled egg.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the remaining 2 tsp of salt, horseradish, mustard, spring onions, parsley, honey, lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil. Whisk with a fork until well combined. It will separate as it sits, but that is OK.
  3. In a large salad bowl, toss the salad greens with the horseradish dressing, top with the apples, walnuts, lamb and egg.
  4. Season the lamb shank with 2 teaspoons of the salt and the black pepper. Place the lamb shank in covered baking dish or sauce pot that it fits into nice and snug. Add the broth, or water, the sprig of rosemary and cover. Place into a 325 degree oven and cook until the meat is easily able to be pulled off the bone with a fork. This should take about 1½ to 2 hours. Remove the lamb meat from the bone and set aside. Discard the rosemary sprig.
  5. Pre-heat your oven to 300F. Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 10-12 minutes or until they are golden brown. Set aside.
  6. Fill a small sauce pot up with 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. With a spoon or ladle, gently lower the eggs into the water. Boil on medium heat for 8 minutes, then rinse under cold water until they are no longer hot and peel. Cut the eggs into quarters and set aside. The yolk should still be slightly runny. Feel free to cook the eggs for 11 minutes for a perfect.
  7. In a small mixing bowl, combine the remaining 2 tsp of salt, horseradish, mustard, spring onions, parsley, honey, lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil. Whisk with a fork until well combined. It will separate as it sits, but that is OK.
  8. In a large salad bowl, toss the salad greens with the horseradish dressing, top with the apples, walnuts, lamb and egg.

This salad is fun, symbolic and just down right delicious as well! There are ways to think about how to cook for Passover and having a creative outlook on the traditional foods can yield great results. Lamb, combined with apples, walnuts, and honey, is a sure bet flavor combination, as are horseradish and eggs. Green leaf lettuce brings the bitterness we must reflect on during the Seder, and parsley goes with just about anything. Have fun with this salad and feel free to substitute roasted chicken or even grilled salmon for the lamb. You can also use whatever salad greens you’d like. Chag Sameach.

Yields 4 servings

Maror and Karpas-Stuffed Cucumbers, by Alex Raij
tsp salt (plus more for ice water) mixture
Tbsp plus 1 tsp sugar
cup cider or champagne vinegar
cup white distilled vinegar
horseradish skin/trim
juice of 1 lime or lemon
tsp fish sauce (optional)
Persian cucumbers
cup chiffonnade (shaved into ribbons) parsley, including stems
cup chiffonade of cilantro, including stems
small endive, halved and sliced thin
olive oil
sumac (optional)
grated horseradish to taste
  1. Bring the salt, sugar, and vinegars to a simmer, stir, turn off heat, drop in the horseradish trim, a few cilantro and parsley stems, and little spring or diced white onion to make a tasty vinegar that is slightly sweet. It’s up to you how sweet really.
  2. Let cool completely.
  3. Prepare the following as you would a salad dressing just before serving.
  4. Meanwhile, make a salted ice water bath.
  5. Halve the cucumbers, scoop out the seeds and soak them for 5 minutes in the ice bath.
  6. Pat dry.
  7. Before serving: Cover the cucumbers in the vinegar mixture to marinate 3-5 minutes or so.
  8. Combine the herbs and endive with some of the remaining vinegar, salt, lime juice, fish sauce if using, and some olive oil.
  9. Taste and add sumac if using.
  10. Place cucumbers cut side up on a platter and fill the little cucumber boats with the herb mix.
  11. Grate the horseradish on a microplane grater and top the little salads.
  12. Serve immediately.

My first Seder was at an American Ashkenazi family’s house. I was the youngest that could read (if you could call what I did reading). I was exceptionally nervous because I really and to this day can’t decode or follow a line. I also did not know what a Seder was. I was completely unprepared. The concepts were completely foreign as my family was secular and I was not very old. These were the first American Jews I knew (my parents immigrated to the U.S. from Argentina), I had never tasted horseradish or matzo, and I had never experienced cooking so impossibly bland or hospitality so incredibly generous. The desserts were amazing and it turned out I loved horseradish and salty parsley.

This recipe is a translation of the maror and karpas from the Seder plate and also the lasting memory of what are still my favorite components of the Seder plate. It’s a delicious little finger salad.

Printed with express permission of Alex Raij. All rights reserved

Hawaij-Braised Cabbage Recipe, by Ron Arazi

Hawaij Braised Cabbage Recipe, by Ron Arazi

cabbage, cut in four pieces
Tbsp olive oil
Tbsp sea salt
Tbsp New York Shuk hawaij

Herb Salsa, by Ron Arazi

garlic clove, chopped
Tbsp New York Shuk preserved lemon paste, or to taste
cup olive oil
bunch parsley, chopped
any other herbs you have on hand: scallions, dill, or basil would all work beautifully

Hawaij Braised Cabbage Recipe, by Ron Arazi

  1. Place cabbage in a pan (the smallest you can fit it in; you want the cabbage to be snug). Spread the salt, hawaij, and olive oil evenly on all 4 quarters of cabbage. Add approx. 10 cups of water to cover the cabbage.
  2. Bring to a boil and cook on medium-high heat for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until cabbage is soft enough to poke all the way through with a sharp knife.
  3. Make sure to always have at least 1 cup of water in the pot for as long as you cook it to make sure it won’t burn.
  4. At the end, you can simmer down the rest of the liquid and use it when serving.

Serves 3-4 (depending on the size of the cabbage)

Prep time: 5 min

Cook time: 60-90 min

Herb Salsa, by Ron Arazi

  1. In a mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients.
  2. On a serving plate, place the herb salsa and top with the cabbage wedge.
Apple Kugel (Babanatza), by Leah Koenig
sheets matzo
eggs, lightly beaten
cup vegetable oil
cup sugar
teaspoon ground cinnamon
teaspoon kosher salt
large green apple, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
cup raisins
cup walnut halves, roughly chopped (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch square baking dish with parchment paper and lightly grease the parchment paper.
  2. In a shallow container, cover the matzo sheets with warm water and soak for 10 minutes. Then drain and squeeze completely dry; set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
  4. Crumble the soaked matzo into the egg mixture and add the apple, raisins, and walnuts (if using) and stir well to combine. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly before slicing. Serve hot or warm.

Serves 6-8

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Recipe reprinted with permission from The Jewish Cookbook, by Leah Koenig.

Apricot Chicken with Matzo Stuffing, by Jake Cohen
tablespoons olive oil
medium yellow onion, finely chopped
cups chicken stock, divided
tablespoons apricot preserves, divided
tablespoon chopped thyme
teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
sheets matzo, crushed into ¼-inch pieces
medium (2½ pounds) chicken breasts, butterflied open
cup mayonnaise
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a medium cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened and just beginning to caramelize, about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup of the chicken stock, 2 tablespoons of the apricot preserves, the thyme and 1 teaspoon salt to combine. Place the matzo in a medium heatproof bowl and pour the onion mixture over top. Toss to combine, then set aside for 5 minutes to soak up the liquid.
  4. On a cutting board, open each butterflied chicken breast and divide the stuffing between each. Close each chicken breast to seal in the stuffing, but don’t worry about stuffing peeking out on the sides (that makes for crispy bits!). Transfer the stuffed breasts to the same cast iron pan and season with a heavy pinch of salt.
  5. In a small bowl, stir the remaining 4 tablespoons apricot preserves with the mayo until smooth then brush over the chicken. Pour the remaining ¼ cup chicken stock into the pan on the side, being careful not to pour over the chicken.
  6. Roast until golden and the center of the stuffing reads 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest in the pan for 5 minutes, then serve.

Serves 4

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Salt-Baked Brisket, by Michael Solomonov
4 lbs second cut brisket
4 tablespoons, plus 1 large box, kosher salt
2 tablespoons freshly cracked coarse black pepper
1 cap pomegranate molasses
8-10 brined grape leaves
  1. With a paring knife, score the fat cap on the top of the brisket in a shallow criss-cross pattern. Season the brisket on all sides with 4 tablespoons of salt and the black pepper. Slather the seasoned brisket with pomegranate molasses, making sure to cover the entire surface area of the meat. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and, if there’s time, refrigerate for 5 days. Using immediately is perfectly great too.
  2. The day you’re serving the brisket, preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Line a cookie tray or wide saute pan with aluminum foil. Mix the box of salt with just enough water to resemble wet sand. Take some of the salt and form a small bed for the brisket on the foil-lined vessel. Wrap the grape leaves around the brisket in a single layer (don’t worry if they overlap). Place the brisket on the salt bed and cover entirely with the rest of the salt until it looks like a loaf of bread. Bake for 6-7 hours or until the brisket feels tender when pierced with a paring knife.
  3. Remove from the oven and let rest, still covered in salt, for at least 20 minutes. Discard the salt and place the brisket on a cutting board. Wipe off any excess pieces of salt with a dry towel. Slice against the grain into thin slices, about ¼” thick, and impress your friends and family.

Serves 8

Israeli-Style “Barton’s Kisses,” by Adeena Sussman
medjool dates, pitted
roasted almonds, salted or unsalted
cups semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
  1. Wrap a dinner plate in plastic wrap.
  2. Stuff 2 Almonds inside each date.
  3. Place the chocolate In a small microwave-safe bowl and melt, stopping microwave every 30 seconds to stir chocolate, 90 seconds to 2 minutes total.
  4. One at a time, to put the dates in the chocolate, rolling them around with a fork, then lifting them out of the chocolate with the fork and letting the excess trip off. Transfer to the plastic-wrapped plate. Repeat with the remaining dates and chill in the refrigerator until the shell is hardened, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the refrigerator and wrap each date individually in plastic wrap for snacks, or serve unwrapped as a dessert course on a platter.

Makes 10

Alana Newhouse is the editor-in-chief of Tablet Magazine.