Area ‘foodies’ name top 10 favorite Passover recipes


by Susan Barocas

“Inspired by tradition. Delivered with a twist.”

This isn’t just the Jewish Food Experience (JFE) slogan, but what we see happening today with Jewish food and cooks — from dorm rooms to family kitchens to fine restaurants. And perhaps no other holiday brings out the blend of traditional and creative as much as Passover does. Many people I know think about Passover as a way to blend those must-have special dishes and tastes we remember warmly from sedarim past with new flavors, ingredients and combinations.

We thought we’d check in with some of the area’s Jewish “foodies” to see what’s on the top of their lists of Passover favorites and found that they do favor a mix of more traditional like caterer/columnist Vered Guttman’s savory Sephardic Kibbeh Batata and modern twists on old favorites like DGS Chef Barry Koslow’s re-imagined Lamb Tzimmes and Soupergirl Sara Polon’s creamy Simply Sweet Potato Soup. With Kabak Kalavasucho, a Zucchini and Cheese Pie, author Beyhan Cagri Trock brings us tastes from Turkey’s Jewish community. And Passover is just not complete without meringues, offered here by family food pro Aviva Goldfarb as melt-in-your-mouth Coconut Meringue Cookies

All of the Top 10 Passover Favorite Recipes and much more can be found at Maybe you’ll even be inspired to start a few new Passover food traditions of your own!


JFE Top 10 Favorite Passover Recipes

Beet and Red Cabbage Borscht

Todd Gray

Submitted by Ellen Kassoff Gray who is co-author, with Chef Todd, of The New Jewish Table and co-owner, Equinox Restaurant

Not Exactly Aunt Lil’s Matzah Ball Soup

Todd Gray — chef, co-author, The New Jewish Table and co-owner, Equinox Restaurant

Simply Sweet Potato Soup

Sara Polon — creator and owner, Soupergirl

Kibbeh Batata

Vered Guttman — food columnist,, and caterer, Cardamom & Mint

Lamb Tzimmes

Barry Koslow — chef/partner, DGS Delicatessen

Kabak Kalavasucho

Zucchini and Cheese Pie

Beyhan Cagri Trock – author, The Ottoman Turk and the Pretty Jewish Girl: Real Turkish Cooking

Passover Chremsel

Joan Nathan — TV producer/host and author of 10 cookbooks including Jewish Cooking in America

Coconut Meringue Cookies

Aviva Goldfarb — author, family food expert and blogger, The Six O-Clock Scramble

Chocolate Mousse Meringue Layer Cake

Paula Shoyer — pastry chef and author, The Kosher Baker

Charoset Balls

Susan Barocas – project director, Jewish Food Experience

Susan Barocas is the project director of the Jewish Food Experience (JFE), a program of the United Jewish Endowment Fund of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. The JFE brings people together to build Jewish identity and connections through the shared exploration of Jewish food traditions, stories and recipes as well as modern twists, international flavors, Jewish holidays and occasions, food-related events, volunteer opportunities to help fight hunger in our community and more. More stories and recipes are at


Kibbeh Batata

Vered Guttman

From my grandmother’s Iraqi kitchen, fried potato patties filled with ground beef. The kibbeh batata are popular in other Sephardi communities as well, during Passover and Chanukah.

Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour (baking the potatoes) + 3 min
Yield: 20 kibbeh

  • 5 Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup matzo meal
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound ground beef (preferably chuck)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Corn and canola oil for frying

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash the potatoes and arrange on a heavy baking sheet. Cover with aluminum foil and seal well. Bake for 30 minutes, turn the potatoes over and bake for another 30 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Let the potatoes cool a little. Take some of their skin off and mash them with a potato masher in a large bowl. Add one egg, matzo meal, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Using your hands knead the potato mixture to form a dough.

In a frying pan heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat, add beef and cook while stirring until the beef turns brown. Add salt and pepper to taste, cinnamon and nutmeg and remove from heat. Using your hands, form a 1 3/4” ball from the potato dough. With your finger make a hole in the ball and stuff it with the beef. Seal the hole and press the ball of dough gently to form a flat round patty. Continue with the rest of the dough. Mix the second egg and brush the kibbeh with it. Heat 1/8” of oil in the frying pan over medium heat and fry the kibbeh in two batches on both sides until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a tray lined with paper towels. Serve immediately.


Kabak Kalavasucho

Zucchini and Cheese Pie

Zucchini and cheese pie is a typical Sephardic dish of the cuajado variety. Cuajado is a Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) term for “coagulated or having curds” and refers to savory baked dishes made with cheeses combined with lots of eggs, a little flour or matzo meal for binding and lots of grated fresh vegetables — spinach, eggplant, potatoes, leeks, or squash, (as in this recipe). The texture is like bread pudding: soft but not mushy, with the cheese forming a slightly hardened crust. Cuajado dishes are perfect for Passover because they are served slightly warm or at room temperature, which means they can be made ahead of time and kept in a warm oven or on the counter during the seder and served immediately after with little fuss. And as we say in Turkey, “Afiyet olsun” or “May it be pleasing to you!”

Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 45 min
Yield: 12 to 16 servings

  • 6 medium zucchini
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup matzah meal
  • ½ cup cottage cheese
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella or gruyere cheese
  • ½ cup grated kasseri or parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Oil to grease pan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel zucchinis lengthwise and grate the pulp. Placing small amounts of grated zucchini in your hand, gradually squeeze out as much water as possible from squash before placing it in a large bowl. Add eggs, matzah meal, mozzarella and cottage cheeses, half the kasseri, dill, salt and pepper to taste. Mix ingredients well and divide equally into two greased 8 inch pie pans or one greased 9×13 inch oven-proof casserole dish. Sprinkle with remaining kasseri cheese. Drizzle oil on top and bake for 40-45 minutes or until brown. (Smaller baking dishes will require a few minutes longer, since the Kalavasucho will be thicker.)


Lamb Tzimmes

Barry Koslow

My mom cooked lamb tzimmes every year for Passover. This is my modern interpretation, using North African spices and harissa, a North African hot chile sauce, for added richness and depth.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 3 hours
Yield: 4 servings

  • 2 pounds lamb stew meat, cut into 2- inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ cup dried apricots
  • 1 large sweet potato, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon harissa
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Season the lamb with salt and pepper liberally. In a Dutch oven, heat the oil until it is smoking and sear the lamb over high heat. Remove lamb when evenly browned. Add onion and garlic to the pan and lower heat. Cook 5 minutes. Add red wine and reduce liquid by half. Add spices, apricots, stock, harissa, lamb and sweet potatoes to pot. Cover it and place the pot in the oven for 1½ hours. Add cilantro and serve.


Simply Sweet Potato Soup

Sara Polon

I love serving this soup at Passover (and throughout the winter and early spring) because it is extremely kid and adult friendly. The natural sweetness from the sweet potatoes makes the kids smile, while the adults love having a creamy pareve soup to serve at dinner.

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Yield: 8-10 cups

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3-4 chopped leeks, white parts only (yields approximately 1 cup)
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced (yields approximately 1½ cups)
  • 2-3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes (about 3 large), peeled and diced
  • 1 medium russet potato, peeled and diced
  • 7 cups water
  • 3/4 cups dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and white pepper to taste

Heat oil over medium for about 30 seconds. Add onions and leeks. Cook, stirring often, about 5-6 minutes until translucent. Add the carrots and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir rapidly, cooking for another minute. Add sweet and russet potatoes, broth, bay leaf and wine. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30-40 minutes until the potatoes are very tender. Discard bay leaf. Puree using immersion blender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Coconut Meringue Cookies

Aviva Goldfarb

My dear friend Christina McHenry’s grandmother, Elizabeth Williamson, used to bake these melt-in-your-mouth coconut meringue cookies for Chrissie and her siblings when they were growing up. These cookies work well for Passover because they don’t have any type of flour in them, and I like them a lot better than traditional coconut macaroons. You may want to double or triple the recipe, as one batch never seems to be enough.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Yield: 3 dozen cookies

  • 3 egg whites (make sure there’s no yolk at all in your whites)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded coconut, preferably unsweetened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Grease baking sheets or line with parchment. With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and salt slowly at first until they are frothy, then turn the speed way up and whip them until they are shiny and form peaks when you lift the beaters. Add the sugar very slowly, beating constantly, until the peaks are stiff and glossy. With a spatula, gently fold in the coconut and vanilla. Drop batter by teaspoon full onto prepared baking sheets, using a second teaspoon to push the batter off the first. Try to keep them in a puffy shape rather than flattening them. They don’t need to be spaced too far apart because they hold their shape when you bake them. Bake for 20–25 minutes until meringues are lightly browned. Tip: The eggs should be cold when you separate them, but ideally you should cover them and let them sit out for 30 minutes after you separate them and before you whip them.

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