Growing up, my family’s annual Passover Seder was most often hosted by my Great Aunt Mim and Great Uncle Al. The way my mom remembers it, these gatherings were “over the top.”
Mim would spend days in advance preparing the Seder feast of matzo ball soup, poached salmon in raisin sauce, roast chicken and potatoes, steamed asparagus, and a ground almond torte with strawberries for dessert.
For his part, Uncle Al would provide the leadership and patience required to get us through the haggadah, a.k.a. the retelling of the story of how the Jews escaped Egypt. He’d plan out the reading in advance, his copy of the haggadah peppered with post-it flags labeled with who would read each section of the story.
Seder Is More Fun as a Grown Up!
Something I never realized about Passover when I was a kid was that by the end of the haggadah reading, most of the adults were tipsy. After all, custom requires drinking four cups of wine, meant to symbolize the freedom we celebrate on the holiday.
I only made this connection one year after coming home from college. No wonder my aunts and uncles had become more boisterous as those evenings went on!
As for me when I was a kid, I’d just gotten hungrier and hungrier as we made our way through the waypoints of the haggadah, which included dipping parsley into salt water (symbolizing the bitter tears of the enslaved Israelites), asking/singing of the four questions (beginning with, Why is this night different from all other nights?), singing Dayenu (a song of gratitude), and so on and so on.
I couldn’t wait to dig into Auntie Mim’s delicious Seder dinner.
“classic Meets Modern” Passover Menu
This Passover menu includes classics (it wouldn’t be Passover without matzo ball soup in my book!) along with more modern ideas, too.
Deviled eggs with a kick of horseradish can be served as a pre-dinner appetizer, heading off a hangry haggadah reading. Or if you’re feeling especially nontraditional, eat them during the reading in place of the beitzah, or roasted egg.
A layered matzo bake takes the place of traditional kugel or tzimmes, and the matzo toffee dessert can be made a few days in advance, saving you stress on the day of your Seder.
Whether you go a classic or modern route, Passover is a holiday for sharing a home-cooked meal, spending time with family, and expressing gratitude for the freedom we enjoy today.
Your Passover Prep List
- Three Days Ahead of Time: Chocolate and Hazelnut Matzo Toffee
- Two Days Ahead of Time: Charoset with Apples, Dates, and Walnuts, Matzo Ball Soup (store matzo balls and broth separately)
- One Day Ahead of Time: Deviled Eggs with Horseradish and Dill, Apple and Sweet Potato Matzo Bake (assemble the night before to bake the day of)
- The Day Of: Slow Cooker Poached Salmon, Boiled Asparagus, Roasted Chicken Thighs with Fennel and Orange
Looking for More Passover Recipes?
- Check out our full archive of Passover recipes right here!
The Haggadah Reading
The charred egg (or beitzah in Hebrew) on the Seder plate symbolizes the festival sacrifice. They get a kick from horseradish (another Pesach staple). Allow 3 deviled egg halves per guest, and adjust the recipe accordingly.
This charoset borrows from both Ashkenazi and Sephardic styles. It’s comprised of sticky-sweet dates, and crunchy bites of diced apples. Make it a day or two in advance, so the flavors have time to meld.
Seder DinnerContinue to 5 of 12 below.
Salmon is a crowd-pleasing alternative to gefilte fish, which is a polarizing dish to say the least! As a first course, you can serve less salmon than the recipe recommends — just cut each fillet into halves or thirds after cooking.
Chicken thighs are a convenient option for serving a crowd — no carving required! These are roasted with fennel, oranges, garlic, and thyme. To scale this recipe up for a crowd, bake it on one or two sheet pans.
Using oil instead of shmaltz? Make sure it’s Passover-approved — olive oil or cottonseed oil. To make the soup in advance, store the matzo balls separately in a tightly-lidded container. Reheat them by simmering them in the broth.
Side Dishes for Seder DinnerContinue to 9 of 12 below.
Serve tender spears of asparagus alongside salmon, and garnish both with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. To pretty it up like my Auntie Mim would have done, dress each plate with halved cherry tomatoes.
This is the most make-ahead-friendly Passover dessert you can make, hands down! Crunchy matzo is covered in layers of toffee, dark chocolate, and chopped hazelnuts. Make extra if you want to send your guests home with a special treat! It will keep for 2 weeks!