It may feel impossible to gather the enthusiasm to prepare food, table settings and prayer books for a second year of socially distanced Seders. But great food always helps, even if just a little. So whether you hold a five-minute video chat, a full Seder for only household members, a pared-down outdoor gathering, or any combination, here are some ideas from NYT Cooking to make it special.
A Passover-friendly casserole from Melissa Clark that changes up the holiday’s flavor profile feels like a lifesaver this year. What have we done to deserve Melissa Clark?
A marinade with fresh citrus, sumac, olive brine, garlic, thyme and honey does all the work in this recipe from Susan Spungen. You’ll just want to give the chicken, apricots and olives at least two hours — and up to 24 hours — in that marinade for maximum flavor.
In this recipe, Alison Roman writes that gently simmering the stock — not letting it boil — is the key to keeping your chicken juicy, not dry, and your broth clear, not cloudy. And the secret to great matzo balls is chicken fat, of course. Don’t skimp on the dill and celery.
For the sweet tooths among us, Passover brings a welcome excuse to eat lots of Melissa Clark’s matzo toffee, a layered confection of matzo crackers, brown sugar caramel and melted chocolate.
A food processor fitted with a grating plate makes quick work of this adapted recipe that came to Francis Lam by way of Itta Werdiger Roth and the cookbook “Spice and Spirit.” For Passover, use matzo meal in place of flour to make this dish kosher. It is “simple and perfect,” wrote one commenter. “My daughter asked if we could have this every night.”
Recipe: Potato Kugel
This recipe from Susan Spungen makes moist, chewy macaroons that any coconut lover will adore. They’re perfect, she points out, after a big meal when there isn’t much room, or even time, for dessert: “It’s late — who wants to wash even more plates and forks?”
Recipe: Coconut Macaroons
Short ribs aren’t typically braised in white wine and vermouth. (Red wine is more familiar here.) But the combination in this Melissa Clark recipe gives the hearty ribs a brightness that’s perfect for an edge-of-spring holiday like Passover. “This may be the best short-rib recipe ever,” wrote a commenter. “I was concerned that using white wines, instead of red, was not the way to go. My friends raved about the taste! I would not change a thing.”
Recipe: Vermouth-Braised Short Ribs
In this Susan Spungen recipe, halved and roasted sweet potatoes are topped with a glaze made from citrus juices and zest, honey, cinnamon, ginger, prunes and a big pinch of salt, mimicking the flavors of the traditional stew tsimmes. Make it for Passover and you may want to make it all the time.
This brilliant Melissa Clark recipe is adapted from the molecular gastronomist Hervé This and has only one ingredient: chocolate. Slowly melt high-quality bittersweet chocolate in water, then whisk it vigorously in a bowl over an ice bath for three to five minutes until it becomes fluffy and thick — et voilà!
A classic Ashkenazi recipe, haroseth symbolizes the mortar used by enslaved Israelites. It’s a mixture of chopped apples, toasted nuts, cinnamon and a big splash of sweet Passover wine such as Manischewitz. Melissa Clark adds lemon juice to brighten the dish.
Recipe: Apple and Walnut Haroseth
If a rich, spicy broth made from two whole chickens, serrano chiles and cilantro sounds thrilling, then this matzo ball soup — inspired by the chef Fany Gerson’s Jewish upbringing in Mexico City — is for you. Serve it with onions, epazote, avocado, lime wedges and even more chiles and cilantro.
Recipe: Matzo Ball Soup a la Mexicana
Joan Nathan got the recipe for this moist sponge cake while reporting about an Iranian family’s Passover meal in Beverly Hills in 2010. If cardamom is forbidden in your observance (some traditions consider it off limits as a legume, or “kitniyot”), you can substitute ground ginger.
Melissa Clark suggests that you ask your butcher for a second-cut, or deckle, brisket for this dish if you can. “For lovers of fatty meat, this is brisket nirvana,” she writes. “It’s juicy, it’s succulent, it falls apart under the fork with barely a nudge.”
To make this comforting soup from Martha Rose Shulman, you’ll add crumbled matzo and a tempered egg yolk-lemon mixture to simmering chicken broth. Steamed Swiss chard and parsley go in at the end for extra nourishment.