Shopping & Preparation
- 1). Kosher your home for Passover as you ordinarily would. Before the meal can be cooked in your kitchen or served in your dining room, the house must be properly cleaned and inspected for Passover. As each have our own traditions, depending on affiliation and whether we are Ashkenazic (of Eastern European descent), Sephardi (of Spanish-Portuguese descent) or Mizrahi (of Middle Eastern descent), consult with your rabbi or congregation for guidelines.
tomato salad image by Bartlomiej Nowak from Fotolia.com
Serve a salad. Passover is a spring holiday. Not only is a green salad seasonal, and therefore a celebration of "karpas" (the green vegetable that is an essential part of the Seder), but it should help whet the appetite. Matzah (unleavened bread) can also be difficult to digest, and the additional fiber in a green salad should help prevent your guests from becoming uncomfortable and feeling bloated at the end of the evening.
- 3). Plan your Passover Seder meal just as you would any other festive dinner party. When you initially put the menu together, don't worry about whether or not it's "Passover" food or not or if you have a "Kosher for Passover" recipe for it. Just think of what makes a great meal. Look at the recipes you have. Chances are, they are either already Kosher for Passover or can be modified to be Kosher for Passover. For example, if your meal of choice is a turkey and stuffing, simply re-think the ingredients for stuffing.
In some areas, local farmer's markets are open and make a great source for your Seder.farmers market image by AGITA LEIMANE from Fotolia.com
Make a shopping list for the Seder meal itself. Plan to make a last minute trip to the grocery store or farmer's market for fresh produce.
Be creative with your place settings.table setting image by Dana Burns from Fotolia.com
Make up a menu as well as place cards. Don't forget that the word "Seder" means order in Hebrew. Presenting your dinner guests with a menu as well as a preset place at the table reinforces this concept. Point this out to your guests.
- 6). Use ingredients and spices that have significance to the Passover story, or to your ethnic background. For variety, look to other parts of the world for inspiration. If you're used to an Ashkenazi Seder, research Moroccan or Yemenite Passover dishes and Seder traditions. Incorporate spices like cumin, turmeric, sumac and other flavors of the Middle East in your meal.
Spring bulbs and other live plants as centerpieces reinforce the season and make wonderful gifts for your guestsBanquet Table With Grass Centerpieces on Plates image by NorthEnder from Fotolia.com
Decorate your table with fresh flowers and herbs. Sprigs of rosemary and other fragrant herbs along with beautiful flowers make for intriguing, spring-themed centerpieces as well as stimulate the appetite.
Salad Recipe - Citrus & Watercress Salad (Serves 10-12)
Make sure to remove all pith from the grapefruits.juicy grapefruit image by Stepanov from Fotolia.com
Section grapefruits. Cut sections in half and place in a large bowl.
- 2). Chop watercress and add to the salad bowl. Add olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Toss ingredients together.
Set the endive leaves in a decorative fashion.Endiviensalat image by bbroianigo from Fotolia.com
Take apart, clean and pat dry endive. Put 2-3 endive pieces on individual salad plates.
- 4). Slice the avocados and arrange avocado slices on top or next to the endive (whichever looks better on the plate).
- 5). Serve watercress and citrus salad on top of the avocado and endive. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds.
The 4 Cups of Wine
red wine poured into wine glass image by Allen Penton from Fotolia.com
Plan the wine service as you would for any multi-course meal. Kosher wine choices are very broad, now, and we're no longer restricted to Manischewitz.
- 2). The first cup of wine is drunk before having any food. Consider a light wine, like a Pinot Grigio, to start the meal. A red wine may be too heavy this early in the Seder, as it can take some time before something is eaten.
- 3). The second cup could be a light red wine. It's poured immediately after the first cup is finished, so the wine should be allowed to breathe. Additionally, this is the wine that is used to represent the 10 plagues during the "maggid" (telling of the Passover story itself), so the red color would be appropriate to represent the blood of the first plague and the Egyptians.
- 4). The third cup is served immediately after the Afikomen, the dessert course. A dessert wine, like a Moscato, would work beautifully. You may consider repeating the Moscato or another Kosher dessert wine for the fourth cup, as well.