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Favorite Passover Recipes

Favorite Passover Recipes

Here are a few of my Passover holiday favorites. The list starts with sweets and moves on to savory. Please comment at the bottom with some of your family recipes...I'd love to be inspired! 

Also, check out our 2018 conversation/post on Passover, Privilege and Social Justice recorded with Lucy Gellman of Kitchen Sync and The Arts Paper. 

Best Coconut Macaroons Ever
recipe by Alice Medrich
Makes about 22 cookies

4 large egg whites
3 1/2 cups unsweetened dried flaked, not shredded, coconut (also known as coconut chips) or 3 cups sweetened, dried shredded coconut
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (available kosher for Passover, or can be omitted)
Slightly rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large heatproof mixing bowl, preferably stainless steel because the mixture will heat faster than in glass. Set the bowl directly in a wide skillet of barely simmering water (if your bowl bobs in the water, simply pour some out). Stir the mixture with a silicone spatula, scraping the bottom to prevent burning, until the mixture is very hot to the touch and the egg whites have thickened slightly and turned from translucent to opaque, 5 to 7 minutes. Set the batter aside for 30 minutes to let the coconut absorb more of the goop.

  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.

  3. Using 2 tablespoons of batter, make attractive heaps 2 inches apart on the lined cookie sheets. (You can also make these smaller and bake for less time, in 1-tablespoon heaps.) Bake for about 5 minutes, just until the coconut tips begin to color, rotating the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking.

  4. Lower the temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cookies are a beautiful cream and gold with deeper brown edges, again rotating the pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time. If the coconut tips are browning too fast, lower the heat to 300 degrees. Set the pans or just the liners on racks to cool. Let cool completely before gently peeling the parchment away from each cookie.

  5. The cookies are best on the day they are baked — the exterior is crisp and chewy and the interior soft and moist. Although the crispy edges will soften, the cookies remain delicious stored in an airtight container for 4 to 5 days.

  6. Upgrade 2.1: Chocolate-Topped Coconut Macaroons. Do this for any version of Coconut Macaroons: While the cookies are still hot, top each with a little piece of your favorite milk or dark chocolate. Or drizzle a little melted chocolate over each cookie.

  7. Upgrade 2.2: Coconut Macaroons with Lime Zest and Cinnamon. Stir 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest into the batter before scooping it. Using a fine grater or Microplane zester, grate a little cinnamon stick over the cookies just before serving.


Almond Cardamom Cake
Yield: One 9-inch cake
I have made this every year for a while now, and it's moist, light and so delicious. I alter a recipe from an Iranian Seder found in the NY Times. I removed the 1 tablespoon of matzo meal to make it gluten free, and added some pistachios and lemon zest. 

1/2 cup vegetable oil, plus additional for the pan
7 large eggs, separated
3 cups almonds(or part pistachios) or 3 1/3cups finely ground nuts
1 cup sugar
2 teapoons ground cardamom
1 tablespoon almond extract
zest from one lemon
confectioners' sugar for dusting

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9-inch spring form pan or a 9-inch square pan and set aside. Using a stand mixer, whisk egg whites until stiff but not dry, and set aside.

2. Using a large food processor, pulse almonds until very finely ground, stirring once or twice to prevent them from turning into a paste. In a medium bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar, and whisk till blended and pale. Add ground almonds and cardamom. Add almond extract and 1/2 cup oil. Gently fold in egg whites.

3. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and finish cooling on a rack. To decorate, dust with confectioners’ sugar.


Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake
The original recipe for this cake was called "mock chestnut torte" and can be found at It is by Marcy Goldman fromnA Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking. I have altered the recipe slightly, and the addition of nutmeg or other spice is entirely up to you.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 Cup brown sugar
2T white sugar
6 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes, fresh or canned - slightly warm is good
1 teaspoon vanilla
12 ounces good-quality dark chocolate, melted and still warm
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh nutmeg or cardamom

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. If making a cake, line a 9-inch springform pan with baking parchment. If making cupcakes, fill muffin tins with cupcake papers.

  2. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter with the 1/2 cup brown sugar. Blend in the egg yolks, then the mashed sweet potatoes, vanilla and warm chocolate. if the chocolate and potatoes are cold, this mixture will be very hard, and difficult to fold in whites.

  3. In another bowl, with clean beaters, whip the egg whites gently until they are a bit foamy. Then add in the salt and whip on a higher speed, slowly dusting in the two tablespoons of sugar to form stiff, glossy (but not dry) peaks. Fold one third of the egg whites into the sweet potato/chocolate mixture and work them in well to loosen the batter. Then, gently fold in the remaining egg whites, blending well but taking care not to deflate the mixture.

  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan or cupcake papers. Bake for about 40 minutes for the cake and 25 minutes for the cupcakes. The cake rises and looks dry, and slightly cracked on top when done. The middle should be soft but firm. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then remove to a wire rack. At this point, the cake can be frozen for up to a month.


Chicken with Prunes and Olives
This is an old American favorite from The Silver Palate cookbook (the recipe is linked above). I ate this at a friend's house years ago and fell in love. The savory, sweet, salty and acidic combination is wonderful. You could add thinly sliced lemons to the roasting pan as well.

½ cup olive oil
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 cup pitted prunes
½ cup pitted Spanish green olives
½ cup capers, with a bit of juice
6 bay leaves
1 head of garlic, peeled and puréed
½ cup fresh oregano, chopped, or 1/4 cup dried oregano
2 teaspoons of salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 chickens, 3 1/2 to 4 pounds each, quartered
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

  1. In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, prunes, olives, capers and juice, bay leaves, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Add the chicken pieces and turn to coat. Refrigerate overnight.

  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in a shallow roasting pan; spoon the marinade over it evenly. Pour in the wine and sprinkle the chicken with the brown sugar.

  3. Bake until the thigh pieces yield clear yellow juice when pricked with a fork, 50 to 60 minutes, basting two or three times with the pan juices once the chicken begins to brown. (When basting, do not brush off the sugar. If the chicken browns too quickly, cover lightly with foil.)

  4. Transfer the chicken pieces to a warm serving platter and top with the prunes, olives and capers; keep warm. Place the roasting pan over medium heat and bring the pan juices to a boil. Reduce to about 1/2 cup. Strain into a heatproof bowl, add the parsley and pour over the chicken.


Lemon Cardamom tofu with pistachios and roasted lemons*
Grind: 3 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon cardamom pods, 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, 1teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper corns, 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (optional), 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 bunch cilantro. Toss on 2 pounds of sliced extra firm tofu. Roast on a lined baking pan at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown. squeeze the juice of one lemon over tofu when removed from oven.  Thinly slice one lemon, brush with oil, and roast on a lined baking pan along with the tofu, until browned, or place under the broiler until lightly charred. toast pistachios. Toss everything together and enjoy. Serve warm or at room temperature. This dish could also be made with chicken or lamb replacing the tofu.

*tofu and lentils are not eaten by some Ashkenazi Jews during passover. these two recipes were actually from a Hanukkah celebration, but they are great vegetarian dishes for people who do eat these bean products on passover. In both cases, meat can be substituted for the tofu or lentils to make it more kosher.

French Lentils with roasted apples and onions*
Boil 4 cups of french lentils in 12 cups of water with a teaspoon of salt and half an onion. When lentils are tender, drain, discard onion and drizzle lentils with olive oil. Slice 3 onions into wedges, toss with oil, salt and pepper and spread in a single layer on a line baking pan. Repeat this process with 4 firm apples. Roast apples and onions at 400 degrees until browned on edges (apples will be done before onions). Toss lentils, apples and onions together and serve room temperature or warm. Fresh thyme or blanched or roasted asparagus would also be a nice addition.

*tofu and lentils are not eaten by some Ashkenazi Jews during passover. these two recipes were actually from a Hanukkah celebration, but they are great vegetarian dishes for people who do eat these bean products on passover. In both cases, meat can be substituted for the tofu or lentils to make it more kosher.

Matzoball Soup

Click the link above to Tagan's Kitchen, my old blog, for instructions on making chicken stock. If you don't have left over chicken bones for stock, you can use inexpensive but flavorful cuts like thighs, legs, wings and necks to make great soup. You can brown the meat or not, depending on your preference, and if you leave the skin on you will render the schmaltz (fat) into your broth, which you can chill, and scoop off for use in your matzo balls. Last year I bought a box of matzo ball mix, and followed the directions, using seltzer, like my Oma, and cooking them in water that had simmered with some carrots, celery, onions and salt "so they won't soak up all the soup" as my Oma always said. Don't lift the top on the matzo balls while they are cooking, this is key to getting a fluffy rather than rock-hard texture.

Haitian Liberation Soup Joumou

From Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm 
You can learn more about this significant pumpkin soup in our Afro-Seder show from 2017

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Yield:  6-8 servings

1 lb butternut squash or Caribbean pumpkin, peeled and chopped
8 cups water
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 potatoes, chopped
½ lb cabbage, chopped
1 turnip, diced
2 carrots, chopped
2 leeks, chopped
1 cup sweet corn, fresh or canned
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 whole scotch bonnet pepper or other spicy pepper
¼ lb pasta (optional)
1 tbsp lime juice
2 whole cloves
1 can (12 oz) whole coconut milk
salt `
splash of sweetener (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat the squash/pumpkin in oil and roast in a single layer on a sheet pan until golden brown and tender. Simultaneously, in a separate pan, roast the remaining vegetables (except corn, parsley, hot pepper) in oil and a bit of salt until golden and tender.

  2. Blend the cooked squash with coconut milk in a blender or food processor. Pour the squash puree into a pot, add the water and bring to low boil. Add the roasted vegetables and the corn, parsley, and hot pepper, and add spices (and sweetener if using) to taste. Cook for 15-20 minutes to bring the flavors together. If you are using pasta, add it when there are 10 remaining minutes of cook time.

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