Andrew Zimmern's Passover Guide

For me, cooking is a way of healing in times of crisis. I look forward to the comforts of my grandmother’s recipes—matzoh ball soup, chopped chicken liver and roast lamb. For others, making a Passover meal may be uncharted territory. I’ve put together my favorite recipes to inspire both the novice chefs and experienced hosts, as well as a few tips to help you navigate this holiday in the unprecedented situation.

If you are typically the host:

  • Make a menu, send out the recipes in advance for those who want to participate, suggest ways to tackle a multi-course feast and share wine lists.
  • A day ahead or the morning of: lead a virtual cooking class on making matzoh ball soup, roast lamb or whatever the family’s signature traditional dish is. It’s a fun way to help everyone in the kitchen from afar.
  • Make it easy this year so that everyone can participate and feel like they can accomplish the menu.

How to connect:

  • Pick a time and send a Zoom invite, it’s the easiest way to have a virtual conversation and experience with a larger group of people. The first 40 minutes are free.
  • Alternatively, you can use Skype with up to 50 people, Google Hangouts, or Facetime for smaller groups using their phones.
  • If you’re using an iPhone, give your arm a break and get a small phone tripod, it’ll make longer virtual celebrations easier.

Seder meal suggestions:

  • Take turns reading from the Haggadah, here is a good basic text.
  • Carry on the tradition of the ceremonial foods and send out directions ahead of time to those who usually don’t prepare the Seder plate.
  • Preparing a Seder plate doesn’t have to be overwhelming, many of the components can be prepared ahead or even substituted: roast the shank bone (or other bone) in advance and freeze it. Wash the lettuce and boil the eggs in advance and store it in the fridge. The salt water can be prepared at any time.
  • Make homemade matzoh if you can’t find it in the store! Here’s a recipe from my good friend Zoe Francois.
  • Whether or not to be ok with substitutions depends on how religious and traditional your family is. For me, G*d is ok with me being a Jew and celebrating Passover with a Seder meal even if there isn’t parsley or haroset. I think G*d wants us to love each other and be together as best we can in this time of crisis.

Make it special:

Dress up, set a nice table, get flowers if you can find them and uncork that fancy wine you’ve been hanging on to. All of these small steps will help change the environment you’re so accustomed to these days, and make the occasion feel like a celebration. Order specialty produce or grocery items online in advance:

Passover recipes

It’s ok to be disappointed that holidays and traditions will be different this year. There are a few positives in this situation, as in you don’t have to clean the whole house when your entire extended family isn’t showing up for dinner. If the matzoh balls are too dense don’t worry, you’re the only one who has to know. There’s less stress when you’re just cooking for yourself and immediate family. And maybe this is the year you actually have a chance to gather family from all over the country or world, so take advantage of the forced virtual celebration. And finally, be easy on yourself, if you can’t find every ingredient on your list, allow for alternatives or substitutions. Below is a quote from my Rabbi to lead you through these unprecedented times.

“We are living in unprecedented times. As many of us continue to work, care for our families and young children, and do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19, I encourage you to focus on the spirit – rather than on the letter – of the law this Passover. This year, let us all remain safe and healthy. L’shana ha’ba’a, next year, may we all be able to gather around our tables together in peace.”

B’virkat Shalom – With Blessings of Peace,

Rabbi Marcia A. Zimmerman
Alvin & June Perlman Senior Rabbinic Chair
Temple Israel, Mpls, MN