Everything on Adeena Sussman’s Passover Menu Is So Good, You’ll Want to Make It Year-Round
What a difference a year makes.
Last year, instead of attending a festive Passover seder with 30 members of our family on a night that happened to coincide with my husband, Jay’s, milestone birthday, we entered Israel’s first — and very strict — COVID lockdown. We replaced the usual multi-course meal with a meatloaf-and-mashed potatoes seder for two at our home in Tel Aviv. I had told Jay he could have whatever he wanted for his birthday, and he very rightly chose a comforting, nostalgic meal as an edible balm for the mysterious virus that had recently and drastically altered our lives, routines, and celebrations.
This year, we will be celebrating with our family again, returning to foods that are still comforting yet tentatively, optimistically festive. The majority of Israelis are vaccinated, a bittersweet turn of events made all the more meaningful by Passover’s powerful message about freeing ourselves from the chains that bind us, both actually (according to the ancient Biblical story) and metaphorically. I am acutely aware that much of the world is still in a holding pattern, with the freedom we all seek on the horizon but not yet at our doorstep.
Passover is also about empathizing with and supporting marginalized communities, which is something I will keep in mind as I help my family set the table and prepare our meal. In the past we have invited asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan who are seeking citizenship to our seder in Israel, and since Passover is all about freedom, both actual and metaphorical, my husband and I make sure to keep in mind those experiencing discrimination worldwide: Jews confronting rising antisemitism; our BIPOC, Latinx, and LGBTQI brothers and sisters facing discrimination; and members of the Asian community suffering anti-Asian bias and violence. I will also be placing an orange on my seder plate to honor and represent marginalized people.
The First Course: Soup
My late mother, Steffi, used to serve roasted sweet potatoes on her Passover table, and I take inspiration from her by making the Orange Soup from my Israeli-inspired cookbook, Sababa. The recipe gives you latitude to mix and match carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes — whatever orange roots, squash, and spuds you have on hand. With a little coconut milk, a crunchy nut topping, and some spicy harissa swirled in, it will quickly become a new Passover tradition.
Get the recipe: Orange Soup
The Main Course: Beef Stew
Instead of brisket, I highly recommend the Root Vegetable and Medjool Date Beef Stew from Sababa for the center of your Passover table. Like most beef stews, it tastes even better a day or two after making, allowing you to check it off your prep list and move on to other things. The dates add surprising sweetness and intrigue; I use plump Medjools, but any pitted dates will work beautifully.
Get the recipe: Root Vegetable and Medjool Date Beef Stew
The Sides: Salad and Fritters
Passover celebrates the arrival of spring, and this Crunchy Spring Salad with Dill Dressing reflects the bounty of the season. The crunchy snap peas, sharp radishes, toasted pistachios, and herby vinaigrette can all be prepared in advance and tossed with the lettuces and other ingredients at the last minute — the hallmark of any super-fresh, but host-friendly, bowl of greens. (And if you sneaked in some al dente steamed asparagus, I wouldn’t be mad about it.)
Get the recipe: Crunchy Spring Salad With Dill Dressing
This recipe for Syrian herb and meat fritters, known as Ijeh, comes from my dear friend and fellow food writer and cookbook author Leah Koenig. Jam-packed with tender herbs and bound with matzo meal (any gluten-free flour mix would work, too!), the fritters are great served hot, cold, or at room temperature, which makes them great for the holiday table — and great for leftovers.
Get the recipe: Ijeh
The Dessert: Marshmallow Brownies
Since I moved to Israel, I no longer celebrate Passover with my sister, Sharon, but I make her Marshmallow Brownies, which use matzo cake meal and potato starch instead of flour. Decadent, fudgy, and delicious, these brownies are worthy of your kitchen year-round — not just during the eight days of Passover. If you can’t find mini marshmallows, simply chop up larger ones into the size of your choice; fine, powdery matzo cake meal can easily be made by blitzing regular matzo meal in a blender or food processor for one minute.
Get the recipe: Marshmallow Brownies
How are you celebrating Passover this year?