As spring ushers in hopes of a “new normal” at last, the season’s celebrations provide the perfect opportunity to define what that will mean for ourselves. Now is the time to mix our favorite traditions with innovations that arose during the past two years—whether those are new recipes tested to pass the time while staying home, ingredients swapped when the original couldn’t be found, or virtual elements incorporated into IRL gatherings to reach as many family and friends as possible.
In that spirit, we’re offering up expert-provided kosher recipes for holiday classics such as homemade hummus with a twist and a flourless chocolate cake that is delicious served warm or chilled. But we also have a salmon tartare that can replace gefilte fish on the menu and short ribs with barbecue sauce or brined-and-braised lamb that can happily stand in for brisket. And there are 14 top-rated, recently released kosher wines to suit any guest’s taste, including reds, whites, a rosé and a sparkler. We hope you find something new to enjoy for Passover or anytime throughout the year!
Sure, you could just buy pre-made hummus to put out with a selection of kosher wines while everyone’s chatting before the meal. But if it’s been a long time since you were able to gather with extended family, let them know how much they mean to you by taking the time to make your own. This recipe is based on the one Joan Nathan, an authority on Jewish cuisine, had at her 1974 wedding and comes from one of her 11 cookbooks: King Solomon's Table: A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World.
To make this creamy dip, Nathan uses fresh chickpeas rather than canned (though those are an option) for a fresher, purer taste. She cooks them about an hour and throws them in the food processors until they’re really smooth. What makes this hummus distinctive is the addition of preserved lemon, a condiment used in Moroccan cuisine, which adds a tangy, savory depth that is both mellower and more intense than you get from fresh lemon. If you don’t have time to make your own, you can find them jarred in specialty stores; salted, sliced lemons are cured in their own juices, with added seasonings such as bay leaves. Start you celebration off right!
For a fresh, elegant appetizer suited to spring, Paula Shoyer, the voice behind The Kosher Baker, shared this tartare from her 2017 kosher cookbook, The Healthy Jewish Kitchen. A callback to her time spent in Europe, the salmon makes a vibrant alternative to a traditional Passover gelfite fish dish. This straightforward recipe is in keeping with the book’s focus on easy-to-make food made with fresh, minimally processed ingredients, using tart lime juice, scallions, finely chopped radish, avocado, avocado oil and, of course, the best-quality salmon you can find. Lending itself to beautiful plated presentations, the recipe is easy to scale up for a group..
To make a big impression with the main course, we turned to Miami’s Papi Steak, which has all the markings of a buzzy South Beach restaurant: Clubby beats, extravagant design, celebrity-studded dining room. But Papi Steak has an unexpected twist that sets it apart from other high-end steak houses: Jewish dishes are given the star treatment here—like latkes with crème fraîche and house-made apple sauce, or pastrami made with Wagyu beef—and a Glatt kosher tomahawk steak is its signature dish.
Their Passover-friendly short rib recipe (a one-time special) would be just as delicious at any springtime gathering, made extra seasonal with a simple asparagus side. Though the short ribs are made in a smoker at the restaurant, the version here includes a simple adaptation for a traditional oven. Before it hits the heat, the meat is brushed with mustard and rubbed with a signature spice blend. The cooking process is largely hands-off, but involves a long, low-temperature roast and several stages meant to keep the meat juicy.
To pair with the richness of the meat, try a rich, bold, dark-fruited, but not overly tannic kosher red—such as a Spanish Tempranillo-based blend—with pepper, vanilla and toasty notes. As a big benefit for hosts of family Seders, the short ribs can be mostly made ahead, up to two days in advance, while the sauce and asparagus come together quickly. All you’re doing on the day of the main event is reheating, slicing and slathering on the sauce!
Chef and restaurateur Michael Solomonov came up with this dish while preparing a Passover Seder just before opening Zahav, his Israeli restaurant in Philadelphia, in 2008. Based on a Palestinian dish, the recipe is indicative of the crossover of cuisines in the Middle East, from which Solomonov draws inspiration.
The dish features three notable elements. Unlike most lamb shoulders, which are sold boned, Solomonov’s lamb is on the bone. It is also brined, something you rarely see for lamb. Since many people are unfamiliar with cooking lamb, Solomonov says, “I wanted to give them an edge" in ensuring that the meat stays moist. Finally, instead of being seared on top of a stove, the lamb is first grilled before being transferred to an oven, where it braises for hours over low heat.
The time spent over charcoal imparts a smoky flavor that makes a Syrah—whether from the Rhône Valley or similar terroir in Israel’s Upper Galilee region—Solomonov’s wine of choice. Look for a wine with good acidity, black pepper notes, a hint of dark-fruit sweetness and meaty notes to marry well with the lamb.
An irresistible treat for any occasion, this five-ingredient, nearly foolproof recipe was a Passover favorite of clients of 12 Tribes Kosher Food, a San Francisco-based kosher caterer run by Rebecca Joseph. (She has since closed the business and gone into non-profit leadership, but fortunately for those who can’t do without, her recipe lives on in our archives.) It can be made dairy-free with bittersweet chocolate and parve margarine or, if you’re having it after a non-meat meal, you can use dark milk chocolate and butter. The prep goes fairly quickly and then the cake takes 30 to 40 minutes to bake. Serve it warm and a little runny at the end of the Seder, or make it ahead and keep it covered in the refrigerator for up to two days; it’s also delicious served chilled, when it has a more trufflelike consistency.
14 Top Kosher Wines
Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding and very good red, white, rosé and sparkling wines from recently rated releases. More kosher options can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.
DOMAINE DU CASTEL
Grand Vin Haute-Judée 2018
Score: 92 | $85
WS review: A refined red, with seamless currant, cedar, olive and cherry notes contained in elegantly textured tannins. Elements of mineral and spice weave together on the long finish. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Kosher. From Israel. Drink now through 2028. 3,300 cases made, 800 cases imported.—G.S.
Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2018
Score: 91 | $100
WS review: This is very solid, with cassis, blackberry and plum paste flavors forming the core, while singed alder and tobacco accents hang in the background. Has cut and drive on the finish, with a late twang of iron giving it some cut. Kosher. From California. Drink now through 2028. 1,000 cases made.—J.M.
Chardonnay Sonoma Mountain Lavan 2018
Score: 91 | $38
WS review: Rich and juicy style, with concentrated Fuji apple and pear tart flavors that are backed by crunchy acidity. Light cream and buttery accents on the toasty finish. Kosher. From California. Drink now through 2024. 250 cases made.—K.M.
Cabernet Sauvignon Israel 2018
Score: 91 | $90
WS review: This polished red is packed with glossy cherry and currant flavors that are infused with anise, mountain herb, mineral and spice notes that meld together through the finish. Kosher. From Israel. Drink now through 2028. 434 cases made, 434 cases imported.—G.S.
Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Wieruszowski Vineyard 2018
Score: 91 | $60
WS review: A solid kirsch and plum sauce-filled version, laced with mouthwatering red licorice and singed vanilla notes, ending with a polished, focused finish. Kosher. Mevushal. From California. Drink now through 2027. 800 cases made.—J.M.
Marawi Judean Hills 2019
Score: 90 | $35
WS review: There’s a honeysuckle edge to the flavors of white peach and tropical fruit in this supple and distinctive white, which features almond and leesy flavors that glide along the finish. Kosher. From Israel. Drink now. 540 cases made, 100 cases imported.—G.S.
Roussanne-Marsanne Galilee Special Reserve 2018
Score: 90 | $94
WS review: A fragrant white, with a supple texture encasing notes of white peach, honeysuckle and melon that are infused with spice, vanilla and chamomile accents. Lovely and fresh. Roussanne and Marsanne. Kosher. From Israel. Drink now. 400 cases made, 100 cases imported.—G.S.
Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Solomon Lot 70 2017
Score: 89 | $150
WS review: Direct, with a polished beam of cassis and cherry preserve inlaid with modest toast and licorice notes. Shows a flash of fruitcake at the very end. Kosher. From California. Drink now through 2023. 400 cases made.—J.M.
Bittuni Judean Hills 2019
Score: 89 | $35
WS review: Light-bodied, with nice purity and charm, this red shows black cherry and currant flavors that are accented with anise, coco and violet elements, with light, plush tannins. Kosher. From Israel. Drink now. 400 cases made, 50 cases imported.—G.S.
Merlot Coombsville 2018
Score: 88 | $42
WS review: A burnished style, offering dried currant flavors, with plenty of cedary and forest floor notes. Crisp and direct on the minerally finish. Kosher. From California. Drink now through 2023. 800 cases made.—K.M.
Chardonnay Galilee Reserve 2019
Score: 88 | $35
WS review: White peach and spiced apple flavors show buttery undertones in this medium-bodied white, with notes of honeysuckle and baking spices carrying through the finish, along with a hint of vanilla. Kosher. From Israel. Drink now. 950 cases made, 50 cases imported.—G.S.
Gris de Marselan Galilee 2020
Score: 87 | $25
WS review: A tangy rosé, with tangerine and melon notes supported by anise, herb and stony mineral elements. A fresh acidity carries through the floral-tinged finish. Kosher. From Israel. Drink now. 3,100 cases made, 100 cases imported.—G.S.
Chardonnay Paarl Kosher 2019
Score: 86 | $18
WS review: An easy-drinking white, with an aromatic hint of verbena and a lively mix of white cherry, nectarine and candied ginger flavors. Kosher. From South Africa. Drink now. 1,000 cases made, 600 cases imported.—A.N.
Brut Coastal Region Kosher 2018
Score: 85 | $25
WS review: A softly balanced sparkler with a creamy mousse, lightly juicy acidity, and subtle notes of ripe Asian pear, toasted almond and candied pink grapefruit peel. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Kosher. From South Africa. Drink now. 1,000 cases made, 500 cases imported.—A.N.