Cooking for Passover is a challenge. Even before the cooking, actually. First there’s the cleaning and getting ready for the holiday. Then the shopping. Then the cooking.
We all know the rules. We can’t use this or that ingredient. None of our favorite breads or pasta or beans and such. Spices and other ingredients difficult to find Kosher-for-Passover. So, when added to the usual kashruth restrictions, minding all of these extra considerations for 8 days can feel daunting.
We all get through it of course, every year, and for me at least, the challenge presents a way to be creative, to work within the rules and yet make delicious food for everyone. I look forward to it.
In our family we also have an additional restriction too, at least for the Seders. My daughter Gillian has a life-threatening allergy to fish, so I never cook it or have it in the house when she and her family come. That leaves out gefilte fish (which our Ashkenazy family always had at Seders when I was growing up) or any other lovely, creative first-course dish of, say, roasted salmon or quinoa pseudo-sushi.
I serve salad instead, and that has turned out to be a blessing. Seder meals can be heavy and filling. Mine are anyway. Salad lightens up the menu. Everyone appreciates it, and not only for the fresh, crisp addition to the holiday feast, but also because salads are colorful and add an extra touch of glamor.
The salads I choose for the Passover Seder change every year. Sometimes I’ll serve one made up primarily of greens but sometimes it’s a vegetable salad. In recent years I’ve served quinoa salads with vegetables or dried fruit and nuts. I try to make the recipes interesting and attractive, in keeping with the joyous nature of the holiday.
This year I plan to serve something I call Sweet and Bitter Salad, so named to signify the sweet feeling of freedom and to recall the bitterness of slavery. On the second night I’ll serve Beet Salad with Orange, Mint and Lime. It’s a beautiful dish and one that I can make well in advance, so there’s no last minute fussing.