It cannot be a traditional Passover feast without haroseth | News
When Passover begins at sundown on Friday, April 15, it is tradition for Jews near and far to celebrate the commemorative Seder dinner much the original way.
They will light candles, read from the Haggadah, retelling the ancient story of the Exodus about freedom from oppression through joyous song and prayer, eat the unleavened bread and sweet haroseth, taste bitter herbs, ask the four ritual questions and drink four cups of wine.
They will leave a special Seder plate on the table for the duration of the meal that features the karpas, parsley or celery, which is first dipped in salt water and then tasted, to symbolize the tears shed; haroseth, made with fruits, nuts and red wine to resemble the mortar used by the slaves; maror, a piece of horseradish or some romaine lettuce to signify the bitterness of slavery; beitzah, a roasted egg that is not eaten and symbolizes the cycle of life and new beginnings; and zeroah, a roasted lamb shank that represents the lamb that was sacrificed the night the Jews left Egypt.
Although it is a set tradition to feature haroseth, “there is no set anything when making haroseth,” says Deena Ross, who owns Creative Kosher Catering in East Pittsburgh and Shabbox in Squirrel Hill.
The point of haroseth is to remind us of the mortar that the Jews used as slaves to lay bricks in Egypt, she explains, so ultimately anything that resembles mortar is acceptable.
“When my daughter was young she had a friend who didn’t like apples or dried fruits. So her family used to make haroseth with chocolate chips, mini marshmallows and grape juice,” she recalls.
Most of the common Passover variations call for few ingredients and even fewer techniques.
“Mine is a basic Ashkenazi Jewish recipe. The Sephardic Jews use dates, raisins and dried apricots instead of apples, add spices like cloves and cook down theirs,” she says. “The Moroccans do more of a haroseth ball, kind of like a nut ball. It’s almost paleo as they use prunes, dates, figs, raisins, almonds, honey and cinnamon. They make into a paste and then roll it into tiny balls in the size of an olive on finely ground almonds.”
Ross has a “very, very simple recipe that anyone can make.” She peels and cores four large ‘Roma’ or ‘Macintosh’ apples and pulses them in a food processor until coarsely ground. Then she adds 1 cup ground walnuts or almonds, 3/4 cup sweet red wine and 2 to 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon to the apples, gives a good stir and places in the refrigerator. She makes her haroseth three days ahead, stirring it every day so that wine does not settle at the bottom and the flavors meld together.
For a nuttier haroseth, she recommends roasting the nuts first and for a drier taste, she substitutes the sweet wine with a cabernet or merlot. Although ground cinnamon is the spice of choice for most haroseths, she has come across ones with ground nutmeg and all-spice. But she does draw the line at turmeric or anything spicy.
“The beauty of a haroseth is no matter where ever you are going to be in the world for Passover and you sit down in a Seder, there is going to be haroseth there. There is going to be maror and all those other foods on the plate. and it is going to feel like home,” she says. “The tradition ties us together and the food ties us together.”
When growing up, her father always led the Seder at Passover “because he was the man of the house etc. and it was very typical in the 1960s and ‘70s.” But as time went by and her children grew up, the practice in her house changed.
“Today, everybody reads a paragraph from the Haggadah and they do it in the way they want to. One of my kids was taking Spanish and so she read her little section in Spanish. We try to make it inclusive,” she says. “We sing the Mah Nishtana together instead of just the little kids singing it.”
The food, too, at her house has evolved with time. When she was young, her family did not eat anything roasted as it signified the sacrificial lamb but now slow-roasted brisket features on her Passover menu along with some sort of potato, chicken, gluten-free noodle souffle, grilled vegetables, hearty salad, cookies such as almond marzipan, chocolate-chip and brownies.
So along with the remembrances, rituals and symbolisms like haroseth, she celebrates Passover with a gourmet meal.
APPLE, PEAR AND TOASTED WALNUT HAROSETH
A crisp apple like a ‘Granny Smith’ also works well here. While you can make the haroseth ahead of time and refrigerate it, serve it at room temperature.
1 1/4 cups walnut halves
1 Pink Lady apple, peeled, cored, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
1 red Bartlett pear, peeled, cored, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
3 tablespoons sweet Passover wine
2 tablespoons (or more) honey
1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Chopped fresh mint
Stir walnuts in a heavy small skillet over medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Cool and chop nuts; place in a medium bowl.
Add apple, pear, wine, 2 tablespoons honey, orange peel and cinnamon.
Stir to blend, adding more honey if desired.
Sprinkle haroset with mint and serve.
Makes about 4 cups.
— Adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2008
PISTACHIO AND DRIED FRUIT HAROSETH
The chutney-like condiment tastes better when it is made at least a day in advance.
1 1/2 cups unsalted pistachios
1/2 cup chopped pitted dates
1/2 cup chopped dried cherries or dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup sweet Passover wine
1/4 cup pure pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Fresh mint sprigs (for garnish)
Stir pistachios in heavy medium skillet over medium heat until lightly toasted and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Combine dates, cherries, apricots, wine and pomegranate juice in a medium bowl. Let stand 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Mix in honey, lemon juice, orange peel, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Chop pistachios; mix into haroseth. Garnish with mint sprigs.
Makes about 3 cups.
— Bon Appetit, April 2009
RHUBARB AND STRAWBERRY HAROSETH
To avoid the haroseth from becoming runny, cut the strawberries in half if they are medium-sized.
1 pound rhubarb, cut into1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons sweet wine
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup strawberries, quartered
3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
In a heavy, medium saucepan, stir together rhubarb, sugar and wine or grape juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and add cinnamon and strawberries.
Simmer, stirring gently a few times, until rhubarb is tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Turn heat off and add almonds.
Taste haroseth and add more sugar if needed. Transfer to a serving bowl, and serve at room temperature.
Makes about 3 cups.
— Arthi Subramaniam