When planning a Passover menu, there are many things to consider, including:
1. How long until the main course? Because the first several sections of the seder before you even get to the meal are so long, everyone is pretty much ravenous by the time you actually start to feed them. When planning what comes before the main course, you need to take into consideration the fact that people will have had karpas, which in my family is parsley. We also serve small potatoes during the karpas portion of the seder, over which you can make the same blessing. When I used to prepare gefilte fish, this was also the time of the seder when I would it. No clue why. It’s just how we do. But typically, by the time the main course comes around, everyone is starving and impatient and all that is in their stomach is some parsley which was dipped in saltwater. You have to plan accordingly.
2. What can you make beforehand? Preparations for Passover can be incredibly extensive. In many families, such as mine, we don’t eat out for the entire eight days of Passover. This means that a lot of the preparation leading up to the seders also includes preparing food for the rest of the week. Foods that can be prepared more than one day in advance rank high on my list of foods to serve at a seder.
3. What will stay? Since there are two seders, you need to have food for two nights of festive dining. In my youth, when I lived at home mostly, my mother and I prepared two separate meals for each of the nights. Now that I am old, I make double of everything, and if you didn’t like it the first night, you won’t like it the second night unless you drink significantly more wine. That being said, foods that are prepared for the first night and which will last well for the second night are really good choices.
This leads me to share the recipe that my ex and I have not stopped making since we first tried it. The issue of what salad to serve at the seder is a difficult one, because Passover involves eating so much starch that we feel bad not to serve a salad. However, salad greens take up a lot of space in the fridge and they tend to wilt, and if you put dressing on them they often don’t last for the second night.
Enter this Moroccan salad. Here’s what you do:
-3 bell peppers
-1 can of black olives with the pits
-2 tablespoons mint
-2 tablespoons cilantro
-3-5 garlic cloves
-4-6 tablespoons of olive oil
-1-2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
-1/2 a lemon
Boil 2 potatoes. Slice them thinly. (Yes, this salad involves starch; deal with it.)
Get three different colors of bell peppers and slice them thinly.
Get a cucumber, preferably the kind where you can eat the skin without making a puckered-up lemon face. Slice it thinly.
Get a can of black olives with the pits—the Israeli kind.
Lay the potatoes, bell pepper slices, and cucumber slices on a tray. As far as arranging them, I prefer to keep those three things separately, but you can really do whatever you want. Sprinkle the olives all around the tray.
Here’s what you put on top: Get three scallions and slice them really thin. Dice up 2 tablespoons of fresh mint and 2 tablespoons of fresh cilantro and 3-5 garlic cloves. You want everything diced up really small. Sprinkle all of that over everything that is on the tray and drizzle with 4-6 tablespoons of olive oil, 1-2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, and the juice of half a lemon.
That’s it. This salad is inexpensive to make (especially if you don’t choose the more expensive yellow and orange bell peppers!), it keeps well, it’s not as messy as a green salad, and it can be stored in Ziploc bags or small containers that won’t take up your entire refrigerator.
Of all of the menu problems that you might be contemplating as Passover draws near, perhaps you can consider your salad questions answered! B’tei avon!