For those not familiar with the Passover Seder, it’s a meal abundant with symbolism of the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt. Unfortunately, it’s not the most vegan-friendly of meals. Lucky for me, my favorite symbolic dish, the Charoset, is.
Charoset symbolizes the mortar used by the Jews to build the Temples, and possibly the Pyramids for the Pharaohs, thousands of years ago. An amalgam of fruits and nuts mixed with wine, it is spread on matzo and gobbled down with gusto. How’s that for karma?
Growing up, my mother made what is known as Ashkenazi Charoset, as we are descendants of the Ashkenazi Jews of Central Europe. Apples, walnuts, cinnamon and wine, it’s like an uncooked deconstructed apple pie. Delicious! For my formative years that was Charoset.
As an adult I was introduced to the Sephardic version, made by the Jews that descended from the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa. Wow! Dried fruits are the basis of this version and take Charoset next level, to me.
Being a Cali girl, now, I created an homage to all that is abundant in our fertile soil with this Sephardic version. Dates, figs, raisins, oranges, pistachios, and walnuts, blended with wine and an apple. Shmeared on matzo this makes for a divine bite. I’d definitely build a house with this mortar!
Please note that I didn’t use any spices, as I wanted to keep it light and fresh for spring. Feel free to add cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg or clove or a combination. Any dried fruits work. Same with nuts. I do recommend roasting the nuts, for a richer flavor, and give instructions at the end of the recipe.
I also recommend using a light, sweet Passover wine. Bartenura, available at Ralphs, was perfect. You can substitute red grape juice for an alcohol-free version. I blended it on the smoother side of chunky to incorporate all of the fruits. Again, this is personal preference, so blend to your taste,
This version would be amazing beyond the Seder Table. I’m thinking as a filling for thumbprint cookies and oat bars, or as breakfast mixed with yogurt.
Happy Passover to those who celebrate!
Sephardic Charoset a al Cali
2/3 cup unsalted pistachio nuts, roasted*
2/3 cup raw walnut pieces, roasted*
1 cup Thompson seedless raisins
8-10 Calamyrna figs (depending on size), snipped into small pieces
14 Medjool dates, pitted and snipped into small pieces
1 large sweet apple, peeled, cored and diced up
Zest of 1 large navel orange
Fruit of 1 large navel orange diced up
1/2-cup sweet red Passover wine or red grape juice
Put all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the processing blade. Stir up with a spoon to distribute evenly. (Don’t use hands, as the blade is sharp!
Process for a few seconds to break down and combine the fruits and nuts. Scrape down sides. Process in pulses until desired consistency is obtained, scraping down sides if necessary.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
To serve put in a pretty bowl and top with chopped nuts or orange zest or a combination of the two.
* To roast the nuts, set the oven to 325 degrees. Spread the nuts on a parchment lined sheet pan. Cook each nut separately as they roast at a different rate, stirring up midway. Depending on your oven it can take from 6 -10 minutes to roast them to a golden brown. The best test is to taste. Keep an eye on them as they can go from roasted to burnt, quickly.