A Passover Favorite, Two Ways

I’ve always considered myself to have two favorite holidays: Thanksgiving and Passover. It’s not surprising, given that both holidays emphasize celebrating with big feasts. This year I had the opportunity to host my first seder. My parents and brother were in town for a 100th birthday celebration, and my boyfriend’s mom came in to celebrate both Passover and Easter with us.

One of the traditional foods eaten at Passover is charoset, a fruit and nut mixture that serves as a symbol of the mud the Israelites used to make bricks when they were slaves in Egypt. When we first eat it during the seder, we pair it with bitter horseradish, but after a little bit of that, I always eat a lot of it on its own.

The standard Ashkenazi (Eastern European) recipe for charoset uses apples, walnuts, and red wine, and we always have this at our Passover table. Several years ago my mom introduced a Sephardic (Western European/Mediterranean) charoset to our seder. It’s sweet and made with citrus and has become a family favorite.

I’ve included both recipes below. They’re delicious during Passover and any time of year.

Traditional Apple Charoset
Makes 4 cups. Adapted from Epicurious.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium Gala or Fuji apples
  • juice from half of a lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups walnut halves, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sweet red wine
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
Directions
  1. Peel, core, and dice the apples into small pieces. Place in a large mixing bowl and toss with the lemon juice. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine and, if you would like, add additional red wine, cinnamon, and brown sugar to taste. 
  2. Store in covered container in refrigerator for up to a week.
  3. Enjoy!

Sephardic Charoset
Makes 3 cups. Adapted from The Sephardic Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup sweet red wine (or more)
  • 1 large seedless naval orange, washed and dried
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts

Ingredients

  1. Soak the dates and raisins in the wine overnight. Make sure there is enough wine to cover the fruit. 
  2. After the dates and raisins have soaked overnight, cut the orange into chunks. Put all ingredients into a food processor and pulse/chop until the mixture is ground to a paste. If necessary, add more wine to achieve a smooth consistency. 
  3. Store in covered container in refrigerator for up to a week. 
  4. Enjoy!
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