Spring Cooking for a Festive Passover

Why not make some delicious braised lamb shoulder in spring vegetables with a side of mashed peas and parsnips for your holiday meal?

Vered Guttman

The origins of Passover can be traced back to ancient ceremonies of nomads and herders, sacrificing a lamb to their gods in hope he blesses their herd with a healthy season.

From biblical times and until the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, the Passover sacrifice, a lamb, would be slaughtered and roasted whole and then consumed. After the destruction of the temple most communities refrained from serving any roasted meat during the Seder, making sure it does not seem as if they were trying to replace the sacrifice in the temple. Yet many Sephardi and Mizrahi communities do serve lamb for the festive Seder meal, a perfect time of year for the newly born sheep.

The braised lamb shoulder in spring vegetables recipe below uses wine and stock, following the tradition of not braising lamb in its own juices for the Seder (which may be too similar to roasting it and will remind us again of the Passover sacrifice). Perfect for your Seder table and to celebrate not only the freedom of the Israelites, but the ending of a rough winter and the first signs of spring.

Braised lamb shoulder in spring vegetables

Feel free to use any spring vegetables available, such as asparagus, artichokes, leeks or peas and fava beans (for kitniyot eaters).

serves 6

6 lamb shoulder blade chops, about 8 oz. each
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
¾ cup white wine
4 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1½ cups chicken or vegetable stock
6-8 baby artichokes, trimmed [http://www.saveur.com/article/Techniques/Trimming-Baby-Artichokes ] and sliced in half
1 bunch Tuscan kale, thinly sliced

1. Dry lamb chops with paper towels. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.
2. in a pan that can hold all chops in one layer, heat olive oil over medium-high heat (you can also use 2 smaller pans instead of one large pan, and divide all ingredients between both.) Brown lamb chops about 2½ minutes per side and transfer to a tray.
3. Add wine and leeks to pan and use a spatula to remove bits and fat from the bottom of the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add stock and bring to boil. Add lamb chops to pan with all juices that accumulated in pan, bring to boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 1 hour. Turn chops over then add vegetables to pan, drizzling liquid on them and pushing them between the chops. Bring back to boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low, cover again and cook for one hour more. Serve over mashed peas and parsnips (below).

Mashed peas and parsnips

Peas are permitted during Passover for Kitniyot (legume) eaters only. Substitute with a bunch of kale or spinach, or just use the parsnips and celery root, the dish will still be delicious.

Serves 6

1 lb. parsnips
1 large celery root
1 lb. fresh or frozen and thawed peas
Kosher salt

1. Peel parsnips and celery root, wash to remove dirt, and cut into 1 inch size cubes. Put in a medium pot and cover with boiling water. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Add peas to pot and cook for 5 minutes longer. If the parsnips and celery root are not soft enough, cook for a few minutes longer.
2. Strain the vegetables and transfer to a blender or a food processor. Add ¾ teaspoon of kosher salt and mix until smooth. Adjust salt to taste.