Choose Your Passover Menu: Mediterranean, Ashkenazi Tradition, or Festive Kitniyot

There are great Passover recipes everywhere. Here's how to pull them together into a seder menu that will please all.

Sender Restaurant’s matza ball soup

With so many great Passover recipes available everywhere, the only question remaining is how to put them together into one cohesive menu. A seder menu is more than just a list of favorite holiday dishes. You’ll need a menu that presents a concept but at the same time satisfies young cousins and old aunts, and your vegan brother-in-law too. And it needs to be tasty. And not too heavy. And did I mention it also has to be easy to prepare?

Here are some suggestions:

Festive kitniyot menu

Why is this seder different from all other seders? You may have heard the the Rabbinical Assembly, the association of Conservative rabbis, just approved kitniyot, Hebrew for legume, for use during Passover even for Ashkenazi Jews.

Ever since the 13th century, legumes have been eaten by Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews on Passover, while for Ashkenazi Jews they were strictly forbidden, making the Passover menu even harder to navigate. And although many Ashkenazim have since adopted to the Sephardi Passover diet, especially in Israel, it is now officially permitted - at least for those following Conservative Judaism - to enjoy rice, corn, chickpeas and tahini with your matza.

So don’t be afraid! A whole new world of Passover delights has just been opened to you. Take advantage of it!

The menu below includes everything you’ve always wanted for Passover, but never dared to try: tahini, chickpeas, beans, rice, polenta and more.

Start with the Persian version of matzo ball soup, where gondi, dumplings made of chickpea flour and ground chicken, rest in a golden chicken soup spiced with turmeric and saffron.

Vered Guttman

Beef Kebab with tahini sauce and tomato salsa can serve as the main course.

Embassy of Israel

Celebrate spring and the newly found permission to eat rice with this fresh green fava and herb rice dish.

Vered Guttman

Try adding a little poppy seeds in your salad, as they’re legitimate for Passover this year, with this Shirazi salad with poppy seed.

Shirazi salad with poppy seed.
Vered Guttman

Polenta is OK now too! For dessert, try this fabulous, gluten free and parve polenta, orange and olive oil cake. It is even nicer served with fresh sliced oranges or a citrus sorbet.

Vered Guttman

Mediterranean seder menu

Kitniyot over Passover isn't your thing? That's fine - try out this seder menu full of vibrant, Mediterranean-style dishes.

Start with a sea bass, beet and radish ceviche served in tall glasses.

Vered Guttman

For the main course try Joyce Goldstein’s chicken with apricots and tomatoes recipe (Djah Mish Mish). This recipe is featured in her excellent new book, The New Mediterranean Jewish Table: Old World Recipes for the Modern Home, which contains a long, impressive list of other Mediterranean Passover dishes.

One of my favorite Passover dishes is this Moroccan potato and dandelion (think bitter herb) maakouda, a tall torte-like dish that can serve as a main course for vegetarian guests.

Vered Guttman

Another colorful side dish is this quinoa in coconut milk with yams and Tuscan kale.

Finish with an apple and almond cake, served with your grandma’s apple compote recipe.

The Ashkenazi feel-good menu

Sometimes you just want good old tradition.

Start with fancy shmancy chicken and almond matzo balls in chicken consomme.

Daniel Lila

Then move on to chicken liver and schmaltz pate. Ignore the crostini in the photo and serve it instead with matzo and the best chrein ever.

Vered Guttman

And gefilte fish too.

Eyal Toueg

The main course cannot be anything but brisket, so try this version from Bon Appetit Magazine’s editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport.


Serve the brisket with simple oven-baked potatoes.

You may think a heavy meal like that would end with a light dessert, right? Well, no. Have Passover brownies instead. Some fresh fruit next to them would be nice, too.

Vered Guttman

This article was originally published in April 2016