Passover, Shabbat and an in-person “Festival of Freedom”

The first Passover seder takes place on Friday, April 15 at sundown, on the 15th day of Nissan and Shabbat in addition. During the eight-day holiday, no leavened or fermented food or drink is consumed, a reminder of the Israelites’ hasty exodus from Egyptian slavery. It is said to be the most celebrated Jewish holiday, mainly because it takes place at home with family and friends, and not in the synagogue. For observant Jews, no work is done on the first and second days of the holiday, as well as the last day, the middle ones – Chol Hamoed – being mainly reserved for family activities and reminiscent of the “Freedom Day”. In Israel, the holiday is celebrated for seven days.

Today, people of all ages and faiths gather around Seder tables, not only in homes, but also in community centers, restaurants, and other large spaces. For many, this will be the first year since 2019 that young and old will come together in person.

Now, it wouldn’t be a seder without traditional Ashkenazi dishes like matzah balls floating in chicken soup, braised brisket, sweet and savory kugels, tzimmes and salads, and desserts like nut macaroons. of coco, the flourless chocolate cake and a favorite of the Hofman family: the chocolate mousse.

But for the second seder, consider a lighter meal. This could well be the start of a new tradition for the world’s younger generations in search of fresh, healthy but still tasty and traditional holiday dishes. In Southeast Florida, where you can dine out year-round, I looked for such alternatives. At Dvash (Hebrew for “honey”), a Mediterranean restaurant in Boca Raton owned and run by a dynamic Israeli couple, Ilan and Lauren Cohen, I dined on dishes like pumpkin soup with sweet potato nuggets and roasted turmeric cauliflower. Prepared without yeast or pulses, it is perfect for any Passover meal. Ilan, who began his career in Jerusalem, uses farm-fresh ingredients fortified with aromatic spices (available at general markets) to create mouth-watering dishes while eliminating the need for mundane seasonings like salt and pepper.

Inspired, I adapted the recipe. Naturally, Ilan didn’t want to share his, but told me the spices he used. Lauren’s Citrus Salmon is citrus infused by cooking the fish on a bed of sliced ​​oranges. A savory caponata – diced vegetables topped with olives and capers, a sweet and sour version of ratatouille – is heaped onto the matzah to replace a heavier kugel. For a tropical twist on Pavlova, a traditional Australian dessert, mounds of coffee-flavored whipped cream are layered into a meringue shell, then topped with mango and starfruit (a sweet and sour fruit that’s shaped like a star five branches). Any fruit can be used, such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Halvah ice cream is a contemporary Sephardic delicacy; if not for an Ashkenazi Passover, save the recipe for a sensational warm-weather dessert. It’s easy to prepare with good store-bought ice cream. Tahini, toasted ground sesame seeds, adds a delicious nutty flavor and crumbled frozen halva adds an irresistible contrast and texture.

All items used must be labeled “kosher for Passover”.


Pumpkin soup with sweet potato nuggets

Lauren’s Citrus Salmon

Matsa Caponata

Arugula salad with simple dressing

Pavlova with tropical fruits

Sephardic halvah ice cream

Pumpkin soup. Credit: Pixabay.

Pumpkin soup with sweet potato nuggets (Pareve)

For 6 to 8 people

Cook’s tips:

* Canned pumpkin (not pie mix) makes this quick and easy or cook 3 cups diced pumpkin in salted boiling water until tender. Drain well and pass through a food processor.

*Soup and Baked Sweet Potato can be made 1-2 days ahead and refrigerated.


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, diced (about ½ cup)

3 cups vegetarian broth

1 (15 ounces) pumpkin

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¾ teaspoon of cinnamon

2 tablespoons coarsely grated ginger root

1½ tablespoons honey or to taste

½ cup non-dairy cream

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1 large sweet potato, cooked, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice

Chopped chives, parsley or slivered almonds for garnish (optional)


In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.

Add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until golden brown.

Add broth, pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. Reduce heat to medium and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes.

Stir in honey and non-dairy cream.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Stir in the sweet potato and heat through. Serve hot with garnish (optional).

Sweet and tangy stewed salmon. Credit: Pixabay.

Lauren’s Citrus Salmon (Pareve)

For 6 persons

Cook’s tips:

* If you can’t find imitation kosher soy sauce for Passover, substitute with Dijon mustard.

*Rinse the salmon in cold water and pat dry. Run your fingers over the surface to remove the bones.

* If using an instant read thermometer, the internal temperature should be 145 degrees.


2 large oranges, sliced ​​about ¼ inch thick

6 (4 to 6 ounces each) salmon steaks, skin on

⅓ cup honey, warmed

2 tablespoons of soy sauce

2 tablespoons coarsely grated fresh ginger

½ teaspoon chopped bottled garlic

½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper or to taste


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Spray a large baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Spread the orange slices in a layer to cover the bottom of the dish. Place the salmon steaks on top, skin side down. Put aside.

In a small bowl, combine the honey, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper. Place half of the mixture on the salmon steaks.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and pour the rest of the mixture on top. Return to oven and bake 8 to 10 minutes longer or until fish flakes easily with fork.

Caponata. Credit: Karen and Brad Emerson via Wikimedia Commons.

Matsa Caponata (Pareve)

For 6 to 8 people

Cook’s tips:

*Prepare the caponata 2-3 days in advance so that the flavors blend. Coldness.

* A good catch-all for the best vegetables of the past.

*Replace dried cranberries with raisins.


1 celery rib, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices

½ medium onion, thinly sliced

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 medium eggplant, trimmed and cut into coarse ½-inch pieces

2 red or yellow bell peppers, seeded and sliced

2 small zucchini, roughly cut into ½-inch pieces

1 tomato, roughly chopped

1 cup tomato puree (reserve an additional ¼ cup)

¼ cup vinegar

8 to 10 pitted olives, halved

¼ cup raisins

2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

2 teaspoons of capers

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

3 to 4 matzah leaves, halved


Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add celery and onion. Cook until tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir in eggplant, peppers, zucchini and tomato. Add 1 cup of tomato puree and vinegar.

Cook 10 to 15 minutes more, until the vegetables are tender.

Add the olives, raisins, nuts and capers. If the mixture is too dry, add the remaining ¼ cup of tomato puree. Season with salt and pepper.

Simmer 5 to 10 minutes more, stirring often.

Serve chilled, spooned over matzahs.

Rocket. Credit: Pixabay.

Arugula salad with simple dressing (Pareve)

For 6 to 8 people

Cook’s tips:

* Whisk the vinaigrette in the bottom of a serving dish. Put the arugula on it. Do not throw. Cover and refrigerate. If needed, remove from fridge, drizzle with dressing and serve.

*Dressing ingredients can be doubled and refrigerated.

* Pour the dressing ingredients into a jar with an airtight lid. Shake to combine. Ready to use at room temperature.


1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons of vinegar

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 containers (5 ounces) arugula, washed and dewatered


In the bottom of a mixing bowl, whisk together mustard, vinegar and oil until well blended.

Garnish with arugula. Do not throw. Refrigerate.

When ready to serve, toss to coat the arugula so that each leaf is lightly coated in the dressing.

Sliced ​​carambola (or carambola) with the usual seven, six and five points. Credit: K-MUS via Wikimedia Commons.

Tropical pavlova (Pareve)

For 6 to 8 people

Cook’s tips:

*A mixture of berries can replace tropical fruits.

*Prepare the meringue shell 2 days in advance. Store in a tightly closed container at room temperature. Do not refrigerate!

* Heavy cream must be cold from the refrigerator to whip well.

*Egg whites whip best at room temperature.


4 extra-large egg whites

1¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 teaspoons potato starch, sifted

1 pint heavy cream

1½ teaspoons unsweetened cocoa, sifted

Slices of mango and carambola


Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw a 9 inch circle on the paper.

In a large bowl, beat egg whites until slightly stiff. Gradually add 1¼ cups sugar, 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time, beating after each addition. On last addition, beat until stiff, glossy peaks form.

Stir in vanilla, lemon juice and potato starch. Pour the mixture inside the circle onto paper.

Spread so that there is a slight depression in the center.

Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour or until firm to the touch. Turn off the oven. Leave in the oven for 3 to 4 hours or overnight to cool completely.

To serve: Transfer the pavlova shell to a serving platter. In a large bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks form. Do not beat too much. Stir in 1 tablespoon of sugar and the cocoa. Pour the mixture into the depression (some will overflow). Arrange the mango and star fruit on top. Serve immediately.

halvah. Credit: A. Savin via Wikimedia Commons.

Sephardic halvah ice cream (Dairy)

For 4 people

Cook’s tips:

*Sprinkle chopped glazed walnuts on top.


4 scoops vanilla ice cream, slightly softened

1½ tablespoons tahini

½ cup halva, crumbled, divided

2 tablespoons honey, warmed (optional)


In a large bowl, mix the ice cream with the tahini. Blend until smooth. Stir in ¼ cup crumbled halva. Place in the freezer until ready to serve.

Place a scoop of ice cream in each of the 4 dishes. Drizzle with honey (optional). Sprinkle the remaining halva on top. Serve immediately.

Ethel G. Hofman is a Jewish American food and travel columnist, author, and culinary consultant.

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