Passover 2011 Recipes for a Big Fat Italian Seder!

Emily Abbate
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passover seder 2011It's that time of year again. Time to hide the afikoman, mix up the charoset, and put together the seder plate. The celebration of Passover starts Monday, April 18, and although Jewish people forgo most yummy things carb, that doesn't mean their week has to be drab.

Growing up in an Italian/Jewish mixed household, whenever the word "holiday" is used, that means there is a pot of sauce on the stove and a dressed salad on the table. And of course, Passover is no exception. From the seder plate to the "lasagna," our not-so-traditional Italian Passover is, in my opinion, the only way to celebrate the Jews' successful exodus from Egypt. And trust me, it's tastier (and more entertaining) too!

Set the scene: As in any large Italian gathering, use some old-fashioned, out-of-style tablecloth and ask the oldest visitor, generally a grandparent, to sit at the head of the table. And since Elijah is coming, this is the perfect time to place a decanter of Manischewitz something tasty in the center of the table, next to the seder plate.

The seder plate: A dry bone, one of the six traditional items put on the seder plate, is typically from a lamb or goat. However, in my Italian family, the shankbone comes from the leftovers of Grandma's ossobuco. Mmmm, tasty! Does anyone know if marrow is Kosher for Passover? Slurp slurp.

The food!: Passover foods have their downside. Breakfast isn't all that exciting without breads, granola, or cereal -- and there's only so much cream cheese-covered matzo with strawberry jam a gal can take. But lunches and dinner in my family have never been something to whine about.

Consider a pasta made of matzo cake meal -- you can hardly taste the difference from the real deal. Rather than bruschetta on thick-sliced bread, there's a just-as-tasty, crispier version using Rakusen's matzo crackers. But the main event, traditionally served at the first seder, is one worth looking forward to. Enter a meatless, cheeseless, and pasta-free zuchini and tomato "lasagna" that would make even Emeril Lagasse proud. The recipe, from New York Magazine, makes me want to celebrate, well ... everything! Just don't forget to leave out the yeast.

 

Every family has its own traditions, and if there's anything I've learned from mine -- aside from how to speak very loudly while waving your hands -- it's that the most important thing is to make the day meaningful in your own way and have fun! Even if that means eating the sundown dinner at 2 p.m., overdressing your salad with red wine vinegar and salt, dipping your matzo in olive oil with garlic ...

What are your family's Passover traditions and favorite foods?


Image via runneralan2004/Flickr

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