Passover starts Friday evening at sunset; to celebrate the Jews’ exodus from slavery, I’ve included links to my favorite charoset recipes with tips to make them more delicious by using healthful ingredients.
Charoset symbolizes the mortar created by the Israelites while they were slaves in Egypt. It’s the only sweet dish on the seder plate and is often bound with Kosher wine; some families enjoy a traditional Eastern European Ashkenazi mixture of apples and walnuts, while Sephardic Jews — with roots in the Mediterranean — favor a purée of dried figs, dates, pistachios and aromatic spices.
Traditionally charoset is slathered on matzoh with bitter herbs and horseradish or formed into small spheres, depending on a family’s heritage. Either way, it is passed around the table during the seder and is an integral part of the Passover feast.
Chag Sameach Pesach! (Have a happy festival of Passover!)
Traditional Apple Walnut Charoset (from Epicurious)
Sephardic Charoset Truffles (from The Shiksa in the Kitchen)
Hallaq: Persian Charoset (from The New York Times)
Tips for Healthier Charoset
Tip 1: Choose Organic Fruit
Choose organic, unsweetened dried fruits such as dates, figs, raisins, apricots and coconut that are free of sulfur dioxide. Your body will thank you for sparing it from an overload of sugar and toxic additives. When selecting fresh fruit, locally grown organic produce from your local farmers market is ideal — the less distance from field to plate, the more nutrients and the smaller the environmental impact.
Tip 2: Use All-Natural Sweeteners
Swap out processed granulated sugar with organic coconut crystals, and conventional honey with local, organic, raw honey. Both are unrefined, filled with nutrients and have a lower glycemic load than processed granulated sugar so you’re less likely to have a sugar-induced energy crash.
Tip 3: Buy Organic Kosher Wine
Most charoset recipes call for sweet Kosher wine; luckily there is a whole new crop of organic Kosher wines on the market today. For a list of organic wines suitable for Passover and other Jewish holidays check out this article from Hazon.org, a website devoted to sustainable living in Jewish communities.
Happy Passover and don’t forget that leftover charoset on matzoh makes a delicious breakfast or snack!
Photo courtesy of slgckgc.