A Menu Unlike Other Nights: Seder Dinner

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A Menu Unlike Other Nights: Seder Dinner

Libby Barnea

While the “appetizers” for Seder nights are religiously predetermined—think haroset, hardboiled eggs and the Hillel sandwich—the actual dinner remains pleasantly free of ritual dishes (unless you decide to honor Passover’s origin story and serve lamb). With freedom from menu-planning bondage in mind, I perused several best-selling and noteworthy cookbooks published in the last year to whip up a slate of kosher-for-Passover sides, mains and desserts so mouthwatering that they will be ample reward for your guests’ divine patience in sitting through hours of Haggada reading.

For sides, there’s Wintertime Jicama Salad, Moroccan Sweet Potato Salad, Herb-Roasted Baby Peppers and Roasted Parsnips and Carrots with Fresh Dill. Then there are three entrée options: Roast Turkey with Maple-Mustard Glaze, Pistachio Mint Crusted Rack of Lamb and Pomegranate Brisket. A simple Country Rustic Apple Tart is a sweet taste on which to end the evening.

All recipes come from Susie Fishbein’s Kosher By Design: Cooking Coach (ArtScroll); Diane Morgan’s Roots: The Definitive Compendium (Chronicle, book is not kosher); and The No-Potato Passover by Aviva Kanoff (self published).

Wintertime Jicama Slaw
Serves 4. From Roots: The Definitive Compendium by Diane Morgan.

3 tablespons extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon imitation Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 small jicama, 12 ounces, peeled and cut into matchsticks 2-inches long and 1/4-inch thick
1/2 small red onion, halved lengthwise and cut into thin wedges
3 satsuma mandarins, peeled, white pith removed and segmented
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, mustard, cumin, sugar, salt and a few grinds of pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
2. In a large bowl, combine the jicama, onion, satsumas, and cilantro and toss to mix well. Whisk the dressing briefly, then pour it over the jicama mixture and toss to coat evenly. Taste and adjust with more salt and pepper if needed. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld.

The slaw can be made up to 1 day in advance. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Toss again just before serving.

Moroccan Sweet Potato Salad
Serves 6. From Roots: The Definitive Compendium by Diane Morgan.

2 1/2 lbs pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425° F.
2. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with the 2 tablespoons oil and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Transfer the sweet potatoes to a large-rimmed baking sheet and spread them out in an even layer. (Set the bowl aside to use for tossing the cooked potatoes.) Roast the potatoes, stirring once at the midpoint of roasting, until they are tender when pierced with a fork but still hold their shape, 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the garlic, cumin, paprika, cayenne, lemon juice, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Whisk in the remaining 1/3 cup oil. Add the parsley and cilantro and stir to combine.
4. When the potatoes are ready, return them to the large bowl. Add the vinaigrette and toss gently. Add the almonds if you are planning to serve the salad within a few hours; otherwise, toss them in just before serving so they stay crisp. Serve at room temperature.

The salad can be made up to 2 days in advance, covered and refrigerated. Remove from the refrigerator 2 hours before serving.

Herb-Roasted Baby Peppers
Serves 8-10. From Kosher By Design: Cooking Coach by Susie Fishbein.

2 pounds mini sweet peppers, assorted colors
10 cloves fresh garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
2. Spread the peppers in a single layer on a jellyroll pan. Roast, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, place the garlic, oregano, and rosemary into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal “S” blade. Pulse a few times to chop the garlic. With the motor running, drizzle the oil through the top of the machine into the garlic. Process until combined, 3-4 seconds. Remove the peppers from the oven. Pour the garlic mixture over the peppers and use a spoon to toss and coat them all. Return the pan to the oven and roast for an additional 20 minutes.
4. Sprinkle the salt over the peppers. Transfer the peppers to a bowl or platter. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Roasted Parsnips and Carrots with Fresh Dill
Serves 8 to 10. From Roots: The Definitive Compendium by Diane Morgan.

8 medium parsnips, about 2 1/2 pounds
1 1/2 pounds tender carrots
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons kosher or fine sea salt

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400°F.
2. Trim and peel the parsnips and carrots. Cut them into sticks about 3-inches long by 1/2-inch wide and 1/2-inch thick.
3. In a large roasting pan or oven-to-table baking dish, toss the parsnips and carrots with the oil, dill, pepper, and salt. Roast, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife and lightly caramelized in spots, about 45 minutes. Serve immediately, or cover and keep warm for up to 1 hour before serving.

The roasted vegetables can be made up to 1 day in advance, covered, and refrigerated.

Roast Turkey with Maple-Mustard Glaze
Serves 12. From Kosher By Design: Cooking Coach by Susie Fishbein.

1 whole 13-15 pound turkey, fresh or frozen and defrosted
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 navel oranges, halved
4 large sprigs fresh rosemary
1/2 cup imitation Dijon mustard
1/2 cup real maple syrup, NOT pancake syrup
Fresh rosemary, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Set a rack inside a large, heavy metal roasting pan. Set aside.
2. Trim excess neck fat from the turkey and discard. Remove the neck and any giblets from the cavity, and discard.
3. Hold the turkey neck-side-down on the cutting board and season the interior cavity with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. It penetrates through while cooking the turkey. Stuff the orange halves and rosemary into the cavity. Lay turkey flat on the cutting board, and using kitchen twine or a silicone rubber band, tie the legs together tightly. Rub and pat in 1/4 teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon black pepper all over the outside of the turkey.
4. In a small bowl, mix the imitation Dijon mustard and maple syrup together. Brush some glaze all over the turkey.
5. Place turkey breast-side-down on the roasting rack. Tent with foil, making sure it doesn’t touch the turkey. Roast for 1 hour.
6. Flip the turkey, baste with the maple-mustard mixture, and cook breast-side-up for 1 hour, uncovered.
7. Remove from oven and generously brush with the glaze. Return it to the oven and roast, uncovered, for a final 1 hour. Baste with the maple-mustard sauce once or twice more during this final hour of roasting.
8. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh or breast. It should register 165° F. Allow the turkey to rest for 10-15 minutes. Brush with pan juices. Place on platter. Garnish with fresh rosemary. Before serving, transfer to cutting board and carve.

Pistachio Mint Crusted Rack of Lamb
From The No-Potato Passover by Aviva Kanoff.

2 racks of lamb (8-bone each), trimmed and frenched
Kosher salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup pistachios, shelled, roasted, salted
3 cups mint leaves, loosely packed
3 garlic cloves, minced
Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1. Preheat oven to 450° F.
2. Heat an ovenproof skillet large enough to hold both racks of lamb until hot over medium-high heat.
3. Season the lamb generously with salt and pepper on all sides.
4. Heat 1 tbsp. of oil in the pan and sear the lamb on all sides for about 2 minutes per side. Let the lamb cool a little.
5. Put the pistachios in a food processor and pulse a few times to grind them. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, mint, garlic, zest and juice of the lemon. Process until it turns into a paste.
6. Spread the paste on the meat-side of the lamb racks, pressing down firmly. Place the lamb racks back in the skillet (or in roasting pan), bone-side down, then place pan in oven.
7. Roast for 20 minutes for medium rare, 25 minutes for medium. Cover the lamb with a piece of foil and let sit for 10 minutes before cutting the lamb into chops. Use a sharp, thin knife to carve.

If you don’t have a large enough skillet, place a roasting pan in the oven to heat up as the oven does.

Pomegranate Brisket
From The No-Potato Passover by Aviva Kanoff.

5-pound brisket
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup pomegranate juice (you can use Ceres brand youngberry juice if pomegranate is unavailable)
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons imitation mustard
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon rosemary
Salt and pepper
1 large beet, diced
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (optional)
1 large onion, diced

1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
2. Place roast in an extra-large roasting pan on top of diced onion, pomegranate seeds, and diced beet.
3. Rub roast with olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper, and rosemary.
4. Mix together red wine, pomegranate juice, honey, and mustard. Pour over roast.
5. Cover and bake for 2-2 1/2 hours, depending on how rare or well done you prefer.

Country Rustic Apple Pie
From The No-Potato Passover by Aviva Kanoff.

Apple Mixture:
6 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons apricot jam
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Crumb Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup Passover cake meal
1⁄8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons margarine
1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Combine the apples, sugar, cinnamon, apricot jam, and lemon juice.
3. Pour the apple mixture into a greased 1 1/2-quart casserole pan.
4. In a bowl, blend the ingredients for the crumb topping until the mixture has a crumbly consistency.
5. Sprinkle crumb-topping mixture over the apple mixture.
6. Bake for 1 hour uncovered.

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