I am not a particularly religious person; nor do I stand on much ceremony. When religion and/or ceremony has been a part of my life, my 2 primary concerns have been that guests be made to feel welcome and that nothing be too long. I come from a family that is more comfortable telling a snarky joke than wearing heartfelt emotion on our sleeves.
So when I was invited to a Passover Seder at a friend’s home, I had no idea what to expect. She is not Jewish, but her family is mixed faith, and they do maintain–to this outsider’s eyes–a somewhat traditional Seder. (Because I am not Jewish I will not presume to explain the Seder but the Wikipedia link seems fairly accurate for what I experienced.) Their Seder was marked by solemnity and levity both, and I felt both welcomed and a part of the ceremony. It was a delightful tradition, showcasing brilliantly the ways in which food, culture and family come together.
When I left, my friend’s aunt gave me some leftover haroset (also spelled charoset) to take home with me. Haroset is a fruit and nut paste, frequently made with wine, that is quite sweet and is symbolic of the mortar with which the Jews sealed bricks together when they were slaves in Ancient Egypt. During the ceremony, at one point the haroset is deliberately eaten with matzoh, horseradish, and a hard boiled egg (some of these ingredients may differ from home to home and country to country).
It was a shockingly delicious combination. So when I got home, I used the leftover haroset to make little hardboiled egg dishes for Alex and myself for lunch, comprised of sliced hard boiled eggs, dijon mustard (I wish I had had Dijon with horseradish), the haroset, and coarse grey sea salt. I hate hard boiling eggs–ok I hate peeling hard boiled eggs–so you know I really liked this combination, both at my friend’s home and the version I made for myself the next day, since I immediately boiled myself some eggs for it. I have several more eggs waiting in the fridge for tomorrow as well-and for once I am looking forward to lunch.
- 2 cups walnuts
- 1 cup blanched slivered almonds
- ½ cup shelled pistachios
- 10 large figs, preferably Calymiria
- 20 dried apricots
- 10 (14-15 regular sized) large pitted prunes
- 25 pitted dates
- ½ - 2 cups white grape juice
- ½ cup Pesach sweet wine, to taste (you may need more) (this is sweet red wine for Passover, I believe)
- ½ - 2 t cinnamon, to taste
- ¼ - ⅜ t salt, to taste
- If desired, freeze the dried fruit for 15-20 minutes to reduce stickiness.Using a food processor and working in small batches, process the nuts until fluffy and beginning to make a paste.Add each batch to a large bowl.Then process a large handful of dried fruit at a time, using a little white grape juice each time.Pulsing the food processor helps prevent splatters.Process the fruit until it is fairly finely grated.Add to the large bowl.
- Add the minimum amount of Pesach wine, cinnamon and salt and stir thoroughly.Continue to stir, adding more wine and/or grape juice, and cinnamon, tasting until you like it.The amount of liquid depends on the moisture in the fruit.This mixture gets very stiff so extra liquid helps soften it so people can serve themselves at the table.Chill.
- Remove from fridge four hours before serving to allow Haroset to come to room temperature.Serve spread on matzoh crackers with beet horseradish (optional).
- If desired, pack some in small, disposable plastic containers for guests to take home if they wish.