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EST. 2011 BY LIZ RUEVEN
8 Charoset Recipes Sure to Spark Chatter at your Passover Seders

8 Charoset Recipes Sure to Spark Chatter at your Passover Seders

Is charoset one of your favorite dishes on the seder table? Why not use it as chutney or cake filling at other times of the year? But first… Seder. Read on.

Julie Levine, San Francisco lifestyles blogger and friend at Florence & Isabelle, has joined forces with me again this week as we share a wide array of charoset recipes for your Passover table. These chopped and blended mixtures reflect ingredients grown in regions as far apart as Eastern Europe (Ashkenazic) to the Mediterranean and the Middle East (Sephardic). We hope you’ll consider serving more than one of these (how about all 8?) as you explore the symbolism of charoset and the different flavor profiles from communities across the globe.

 We promise that offering something other than your go-to recipe will prompt interesting conversations. Your guests will taste ingredients as varied as dates, pistachios, cashews, figs, sumac, nigella seeds and pomegranates. Watch for unexpected techniques like candying nuts or simmering fruit.

Here’s to creating new traditions!

Photo: Liz Rueven
Photo: Liz Rueven

 

1. Lior Lev Sercarz’s Charoset- Not just for Passover!

Lior:  To me, charoset is the ultimate Jewish chutney. It combines Eastern and Western cultures with the use of Mediterranean dates, which are strangely popular in Eastern European cuisine. My charoset adds texture with sesame and nigella seed, and acidity with sumac and sherry vinegar, which are also more preservative than traditional lemon juice. It could easily be served throughout the year and would be excellent as a cake filling or with cold meats or roasts. And please stay away from cheap sweet wine, a quality sweet port or sherry, something you’d enjoy drinking, is what your charoset deserves.

Serves 6-8 as a condiment

Ingredients:

1 cup date puree*

1/4 cup ruby port wine

2 medium granny smith apples, peeled, cored, 1/4 inch dice

1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted and salted cashews

1 Tbsp nigella seeds

1 Tbsp sesame seeds

1 Tbsp sherry vinegar

1 tsp ground sumac

1 tsp aleppo chile flakes

*alternatively puree 1 cup pitted medjool dates with the sweet wine and however much water is necessary to blend (this also makes a great sandwich spread, cake filling, addition to stews, sauces, tagines, etc.)

Directions:

In a mixing bowl combine all ingredients using a spatula and refrigerate until serving. Can be prepared up to 24 hours ahead of time.

 For more on Lior and La Boite, his extraordinary biscuit and spice shop in NYC, click here.

 

Photo: Meal and a Spiel
Photo: Meal and a Spiel

2. Elana Horwich peaked our curiosity with her Moscato Spice Charoset. This slightly bubbly vino from Piemonte, Italy, adds a zesty dimension to the charoset you thought you knew. Elana writes at Meal and a Spiel and teaches cooking classes from her base in Beverly Hills and across the USA.

3. Check out April Fulton’s post here for a Mexican cocktail. Imagine charoset (sort of) in a shaker, combined with Passover friendly tequila, and poured into your prettiest glasses. L’Chaim!

Photo: Liz Rueven
Photo: Liz Rueven

 

4. Einat Admony’s Moroccan Inspired Charoset

 Cooked apples are a subtle but distinctive flavor and texture changer in Einat’s charoset. The sum of its parts are more interesting than they seem here. Liz brought it to a friend’s Shabbat dinner and everyone begged for the recipe. Here it is:

Ingredients:

3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and halved.

2 cups sweet red wine

1 cup walnut halves, lightly toasted, cooled and coarsely chopped

1 cup pistachios, lightly toasted, cooled and coarsely chopped

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of ground cloves

5 dates, pitted and chopped

 Method:

Combine apples and wine in stainless steel pan. Simmer on medium heat until apples can be pierced easily with a fork. Do not overcook.

Remove apples from wine, cool and cut into small cubes. Cool wine reduction and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir all ingredients together,  slowly moistening with wine  until desired texture is reached.

Store, covered, at room temp or in refrigerator if using the next day. Bring to room temp before serving.

Refrigerate leftovers in airtight container.

 Einat is the Chef/Owner of Balaboosta, Bar Bolonat, Combina and the Taim restaurants in NYC. Her cookbook is Balaboosta: Bold Mediterranean Recipes to Feed the People You Love. For more on Einat click here.

 

Photo: Liz Rueven
Photo: Liz Rueven

5. Jennifer Abadi brings a burst of sunny orange and distinctive sweet/tart/floral flavors to her Syrian recipe here.  After a slow simmer of orange juice and apricots she combines lemon juice with fragrant orange blossom water in this ode to her family’s culinary traditions.

Read more about Jennifer’s Sephardic cooking classes, her first cookbook, her Passover cookbook that’s in the works and more, all on her blog, Too Good To Passover.

 

Photo: The Weiser Kitchen
Photo: The Weiser Kitchen

6. Tami Weiser, The Weiser Kitchen, is a food anthropologist, chef, culinary instructor and writer. See how she connects this California Charoset, fragrant with Asian pears, pomegranate molasses, pistachios and cardamom, to the large Persian community in Los Angeles here.

 

Photo: Shannon Sarna
Photo: Shannon Sarna

7. Pomegranate Apple Charoset,  Shannon Sarna

Yield 10-12 servings

Shannon: Traditional Ashkenazi Passover foods can lack freshness and color: matzah balls, potato kugel, matzah brei…the list goes on and on. By the time Passover arrives in the spring, I am craving some bright colors and flavors, which is why the beautiful reddish-pink tartness of the pomegranate in this recipe is such a welcome sight and taste. If you want to make this recipe just a tad more special, add candied walnuts instead of plain walnuts to the mix. It adds a touch of a salty-sweet element.

INGREDIENTS:

4 gala, fuji or red delicious apples, peeled and diced

1 cup walnut halves (or candied walnuts)

1 cup pomegranate seeds

1/3 cup Manischewitz wine (or other sweet wine)

1/3 cup pomegranate juice

1 tsp lemon or orange zest

 DIRECTIONS:

For a chunkier charoset, place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Allow to sit in the fridge several hours so flavors marry.

For a less chunky version, place apples, walnuts, wine, pomegranate juice and citrus zest in a food processor fitted with blade attachment. Pulse until desired consistency, adding more wine and juice as needed.

Scrape mix into bowl and add pomegranate seeds. Place in fridge for several hours before serving.

Shannon Sarna is Editor of The Nosher. Born to an Italian mother who loved to bake, a Jewish father who loved to experiment, and a food chemist grandfather, loving and experimenting with diverse foods is simply in her blood. For more on Shannon click here.

 

photo: Tori Avey
photo: Tori Avey

8. And finally, Tori Avey created a brilliant twist on traditional Ashkenazic charoset in this recipe for Apple Cinnamon Charoset with Candied Walnuts. Tori leaves the walnuts out of the mix altogether and uses them as a crunchy topping at the end. She first candies the nuts and seasons them with cinnamon, allspice, and cayenne for a kick at the finish. If anyone is feeling drowsy at the Seders, this should definitely help.

 For more on Tori Avey and her fascinating work as a culinary historian, food blogger and lots more click here.

Thank you, to my trusted contributor Katy Morris, for her assistance on this post. Teamwork is a beautiful thing. xo Liz

We would LOVE to know about the charoset recipes you hold dear. Are they family recipes or twists on Ashkenazic or Sephardic traditions? Leave comments below so we can share your charoset stories.

 

8 Comments

  1. Thanks for the new ideas. Here is my favorite charoset recipe. This is from the NY times about 3 years ago:

    1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
    1 cup dried figs, finely chopped
    2 cups finely diced just-ripe unpeeled pears
    1/2 cup peeled, finely diced, crisp and slightly tart apple
    1 tsp. ground cinnamon
    3 Tbsp. honey
    3Tbsp. passover sweet wine
    zest and juice of half a lemon.
    1. in a glass or ceramic bowl, lightly toss the pecans, figs, pears and apple
    2. add the cinnamon, honey, wine, lemon zest and juice. toss lightly to blend well
    cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
    yield: about 4 cups

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