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Traditional recipes are comfort for this year’s complicated Passover

We have compiled some recipes – including vegan and gluten-free – for people who will be preparing Passover dinner.

With the coronavirus shutdown requiring families to stay at home and social distancing in place, Passover Seders — a meal that is held at home — may be particularly challenging this year. While some may welcome guests for a virtual dinner through Zoom or a Google Hangout, not every Jewish family will be able to use technology to connect with their loved ones. Though many Philly-area restaurants and bakeries are providing Passover meals for takeout, some celebrations will require traditional dishes to be prepared from home kitchens.

To that end, we have compiled some recipes — including some that are vegan and gluten-free — for people who will be preparing their Passover dinners at home.

(The Washington Post contributed to this article.)

Traditional Brisket

8 to 10 servings

Cookbook author Paula Shoyer likes to use a second-cut brisket because she says the first cut (also known as “flat”) does not get soft enough while cooking.

You may use vegetable oil instead of coconut oil, which makes this brisket more Keto-friendly. Note that this recipe calls for coconut flour (instead of potato starch) which is not kosher for Passover.

MAKE AHEAD: The brisket tastes even better after a day’s refrigeration. It may be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated; or frozen for up to 3 months. If frozen, defrost in the refrigerator overnight; reheat, covered, with its sauce in a 300-degree oven until warmed through.


2 tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon coconut or other oil, or more as needed

1 tablespoon coconut flour, or more as needed (see headnote)

4 ½ to 5 pounds second-cut brisket

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 large tomatoes, quartered, seeded and cut into 2-inch chunks

1 ½ cups water

1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Sprinkle coconut flour on both sides of the meat, shaking off the excess, then place the brisket in the pan; sear for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until you see crispy bits on the meat. Transfer to a roasting pan to cool a bit. (If you are working with two brisket pieces, add 1 to 2 teaspoons coconut oil to the pan before you brown the second piece.)

Stir the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl until well-incorporated. This is your spice mix.

Reduce the heat to medium-low; add the remaining ½ teaspoon of oil to the skillet. Once it is hot, add the tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes, until they break down a bit, stirring often. Add a heaping tablespoon of the spice mix and all the water; increase the heat to medium-high and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until everything is well-incorporated.

Meanwhile, rub the remaining spice mixture all over the seared brisket; then pour the tomato mixture over the meat. Cover the roasting pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil (without letting it touch the sauce or meat); roast (middle rack) for about 1 hour.

Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the meat to a cutting board. Trim any fat that has not rendered, if desired. Cut the brisket against the grain into 1/3-inch thick slices. Return them to the roasting pan, tucking them in so they are covered with the sauce as much as possible. Re-cover with foil and roast for about 1 hour, or until the meat is fork-tender.

Sprinkle the parsley, if using, on top of the brisket and serve.

Nutrition | Per serving: 470 calories, 69 g protein, 5 g carbohydrates, 17 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 200 mg cholesterol, 170 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 1 g sugar

Paula Shoyer, Washington Post

Roasted Mushroom, Tomato and Herb Salad

6 servings

This simple salad enhances the taste of roasted mushrooms with fresh herbs and the acidity of juicy tomatoes.

MAKE AHEAD: The mushrooms and garlic can be roasted several hours in advance. Assemble the salad just before serving.


For the mushrooms

10 ounces cremini mushrooms

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad

2 pints cherry tomatoes, each tomato cut in half

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

¼ cup finely chopped basil

¼ cup finely chopped fresh dill

¼ cup finely chopped parsley

Finely grated lemon zest of ½ lemon, plus juice of 1 lemon

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper


For the mushrooms: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the mushrooms, garlic, salt, and the 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a mixing bowl, tossing to coat evenly. Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet; roast (middle rack) for 15 minutes, or just until sizzling and browned. Let cool; wipe out your mixing bowl.

For the salad: Return the roasted, cooled mushrooms and garlic to the mixing bowl. Add the halved cherry tomatoes, cilantro, basil, dill, parsley, lemon zest and juice, and the 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Toss gently to incorporate.

Taste, and add more salt and/or pepper, as needed.

Nutrition | Per serving: 160 calories, 2 g protein, 7 g carbohydrates, 15 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 430 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 4 g sugar

Adapted from “Perfect Flavors: Creative, Easy-to-Prepare Recipes Inspired by My Family and Travels,” by Naomi Nachman (Mesorah Publications, 2018).

Lemon Quinoa Cake

12 servings

This cake is the cousin of the Chocolate Quinoa Cake from The Healthy Jewish Kitchen cookbook, made famous by Food52, and is also based on the lemon pound cake in Paula Shoyer’s The Kosher Baker cookbook. Quinoa provides the “flour” that holds this cake together.

MAKE AHEAD: The quinoa may be made 2 days in advance and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. The cake can be made 1 day in advance.

From cookbook author Paula Shoyer.


For the cake

¾ cup dried quinoa

1 ½ cups water

Cooking spray or 2 tablespoons canola oil, plus more as needed

¼ cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoons coconut flour, plus more as needed

2 tablespoons lemon zest, from 2 to 3 large lemons

½ cup fresh lemon juice, from 2 to 3 large lemons

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (or other vanilla for Passover)

¾ cup coconut oil

1 ¼ cups sugar

1 cup almond flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

For the glaze

1 cup vegan confectioners' sugar

1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, from 1 to 2 lemons


Place the quinoa and water in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan, and cook the quinoa for 15 to 18 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Let sit for 5 minutes off the stove top.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use cooking spray or canola oil to generously grease a 12-cup Bundt pan. Sprinkle 1 to 2 tablespoons coconut flour, or more if needed, over the entire greased pan; then shake the pan to cover, and tap out any excess.

Place the quinoa in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade. Add the lemon zest and juice, eggs, vanilla, coconut oil, sugar, almond flour, the 1/4 cup coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and process for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake (middle rack) for 55 minutes to 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 30 minutes; then gently transfer it to a wire rack.

While the cake cools, make the glaze: Place the confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and whisk to incorporate. Add more juice, 1 teaspoon at a time, until a thick glaze forms. Drizzle or pour the glaze over the warm cake; let cool and then serve.

Nutrition | Per serving: 390 calories, 6 g protein, 45 g carbohydrates, 23 g fat, 13 g saturated fat, 70 mg cholesterol, 270 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 33 g sugar

Not-Quite Matzo Ball Soup

8 servings (makes about 14 small matzo balls)

These “matzo” balls are gluten-free, made with ground chicken and almond flour. While it’s awkward to call them matzo balls when they have no matzo in them, they look just like the real deal, plus they are tasty and better for you.

MAKE AHEAD: The “matzo” balls can be made ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 1 day.

From cookbook author Paula Shoyer.


For the matzo balls

1 pound ground chicken

1/4 cup no-salt-added chicken broth

2 tablespoons ground almonds

1 tablespoon coconut flour

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 large egg

1 tablespoon coconut oil

2 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

For the soup

One whole 4-pound chicken, cut into quarters (giblet packet removed)

1 large onion, quartered

2 carrots, scrubbed well and cut crosswise in half

3 ribs celery, cut crosswise in half

2 cloves garlic

1 parsnip, peeled and cut in half

1 turnip, peeled and cut into quarters

1 fennel bulb, quartered

½ cup sliced shiitake mushrooms (optional)

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed

8 cups water, plus more as needed

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

½ large bunch parsley

½ large bunch dill


For the "matzo" balls: With your hands, mix together the ground chicken, broth, ground almonds, coconut flour, garlic, egg, oil, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Wet your hands in cold water and shape the cold batter into 1 1/2-inch balls. Place the balls on a plate, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the soup: Put the chicken pieces in a large pot. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, parsnip, turnip, fennel, mushrooms, if using, bay leaves and salt. Add the water and bring to a boil. (Add more water, if needed, to make sure the chicken and vegetables are fully submerged.) Use a large spoon to skim the scum off the top of the soup. Add the peppercorns; then cover the pot. Reduce the heat to low, and let the soup barely bubble at the edges, checking after 5 minutes and skimming off any additional scum. Add the parsley and dill, cover and let the soup barely bubble at the edges, about 2 hours. Let cool; then strain the soup through a large sieve, pressing on solids. Discard the vegetables and shred the chicken to add to the soup or use elsewhere. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, as needed.

When ready to serve, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the "matzo" balls and reduce the heat, so the water is barely bubbling at the edges. Cook for about 8 minutes until the balls are no longer pink in the center (cut one in half to make sure). Ladle the soup into bowls; then follow with the "matzo" balls and the chicken, if using.

NOTE: You can also make the soup in a pressure cooker. Place all of the soup ingredients in the pot, seal, and cook for 45 minutes at high pressure. Let the pressure release naturally, about 1 hour.

Nutrition | Per serving: 130 calories, 13 g protein, 2 g carbohydrates, 8 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 80 mg cholesterol, 380 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 1 g sugar

— Paula Shoyer, Washington Post