One of the most important traditions in the Passover holiday is the Seder meal. According to Judaic traditions, this meal commemorates the mercy that God bestowed on the Jews when He spared them from the plague of death that was to befall the first-born sons in Egypt. God then delivered the Jews out of Egypt, led by Moses. All major Passover programs are offering huge range of Seder meal options for the guests, from completely Vegan Seder meals, traditional Ashkenazi or Sephardic menus, and special menus for diabetic, gluten and other food allergies. Different level pf Kashrut are also observed, but most programs are offering kitniyot free, as well as non-gebrochts, in order to attract a wider range of guests.
Preparing for and planning the Passover Meal
The seder plate must be present on the table. The plate must contain certain elements as representations for specific things.
1) A roasted shank bone represents the Pesach sacrifice [Zeroah]
2) The egg on the plate is a symbol for the circle of life and spring when life awakens after the winter [Beitzah]
3) The bitter herbs on the plate represent the bitterness of slavery [Mar’or}
4) The haroset, made of wine, nuts, apples and such is a representation of the mortar that the Jews in Egypt used [Haroset]
5) The greens, usually parsley, represents spring [Karpas]
Present on the table there should also be:
a) Three pieces of unleavened bread or matzah to represent the bread that the Israelite people took with them.
b) Salt water to represent the tears shed by the Israelites
c) Four cups of wine should be consumed during the seder and in some families a cup of water is set out to represent Miriam the sister of Moses.
The food served at the seder will change to some degree according to family preferences, location and availability of certain items. There will not be any leavened food made from grain. There will be no pasta, cookies, or cereal served.
Dishes you might see:
• Matzo ball soup
• Gefilte fish
• Beef briskets
There are some vegetables that are better served during the Passover meal.
• Red cabbage
• Grilled eggplant
Peas, corn and beans are often eliminated from the menu options because they can be pulverized into a flour substance. These are referred to as kitniyot and rice, peas, corn, millet, seeds, legumes and beans are usually left off the menu.
The main dish or the meat of the dinner has a lot of opportunities. Roasted chicken and beef brisket are two of the most popular meats served at Passover seder. Often the brisket is prepared with a chili sauce or a cola to create a sweet brisket.
Cakes and cookies served during seder must be gluten free deserts Many of the Jewish families serve dried fruit compete, fresh berry salads and other deserts that eliminate the need for any flours of leavening agents to be prepared.
Poached pears or grilled pears are fabulous endings to a seder meal. The pears are delectable and almost everyone enjoys them. You might also consider serving a fig, pistachio and carrot salad topped with s sweet fig vinaigrette.
The main thing to remember about the dessert is it is ending a perfect meal. Mild flavors from fruits and natural sweets from the fruits will be fabulous after the richness of a beef brisket.
The main thing you must remember about the seder menu is you need to plan ahead so you can make sure and have all of the ingredients you need on hand before it is time to prepare the food. You can also make as many of the dishes as possible ahead of time so cooking the meal on the first day of Passover will not wear you out and leave you frazzled. The cook also has to enjoy the holiday.
Enlist the help of friends and family. Let all of the families who will be attending the dinner contribute something to the festivities. Letting other cooks help you prepare the food, and shop for the food will take some of the pressure off of your shoulders.
Keep it Simple
Not every dish you serve has to be something that takes hours to prepare. Remember that you want to enjoy the holiday meal with your family. Consider doing things like scrambled eggs and matzo that can be served with a sweet jam or with maple syrup.
Roast a chicken with currants and apricots and get the sweetness, the exotic flavors and the roasted chicken all at the same time. It will taste like you spent hours preparing it but you will know that it was simple and quick.
Potatoes are great for filling people up and adding bulk to the table. Roast them with lavender, make them into a kugel, make latkes, or serve them how your family likes them most.
The traditional Jewish Passover foods are unleavened because when the slaves left Egypt they did not have time to let their bread rise. Everything about the meal has a purpose and significance, be sure you share the stories and significance with the younger people at the table so they can continue the tradition.