Shalom! The first three High Holidays- Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits are almost here! The high holidays definitely revolve around feasting and gathering – gathering with the Lord and with each other. These three holidays in particular all involve the omission of leavening from our meals and the addition of unleavened bread for seven days.
When our family first started celebrating, we didn’t know what to eat during this time. If you are unsure as well, I have created a list of different meal ideas for the Passover meal, as well as, Chol HaMoed / the weekdays or intermediate days of Unleavened Bread.
How to Keep the Feast
During Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits we eat matzah/ unleavened bread and we stay away from all leavened foods for eight days. When my family first started keeping this high holidays we weren’t sure what to eat. There are many traditions and opinions as to what is acceptable to eat and what to avoid. However, the Bible says to not eat leavened foods(foods with yeast, baking powder, or baking soda), and remove all the leavening from our homes before the festival. In addition to this, the Bible tells us to eat bitter herbs, to drink wine/ grape juice, and to eat matzah or unleavened bread every day of the feast of Unleavened Bread.
We avoid all leavened foods and eat either store-bought Matzah or we make our own to eat for every day of the feast. We eat pasta, and rice, and beans, and have fun figuring out what delicious unleavened meals to eat during the week. The recipes I share in this blog post are all unleavened and delicious. The Feast of Unleavened Bread doesn’t mean we have to eat unpleasant foods that leave us wishing for the feast to end. But rather this is a time of celebration and remembrance and that can be expressed in the food as well.
The staple of any great dinner, especially a feast, is meat. We are commanded to have roasted lamb for Passover. My family and I love to roast the lamb with dried thyme and rosemary and cook it until it is very tender for our Passover meal. During the rest of the feast, we love to have roasted beef or chicken with roasted veggies.
Matzah or unleavened bread is the one thing we are commanded to eat every day of the festival. The storebought kind is tasteless, so my sister makes her own for us! She makes either tortillas, crackers, or pitas chips for the whole family to eat during the festival. We love to eat the unleavened tortillas with ground lamb to make gyros or eat the crackers with hummus.
Bitter herbs are something we eat to remind us of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt. Last year we ate parsley, this year we are planning on having either dandelion leaves or radicchio.
Wine/ Grape Juice
The grape juice reminds us of the blood of the lamb that was placed on the doorposts so that the angel of death would pass over our homes.
The Days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread meal ideas
So far we have covered the four Biblically required elements of the Passover meal- roasted lamb, bitter herbs, matzah, and wine/ grape juice. But what about Chol Hamoed- the days in-between the sabbath rest day of the feast of Unleavened bread? When my family first started keeping Passover, we were unsure what to eat during these days, meals that included matzah, excluded leavening, and were still delicious and filling.
Here are some of my favorite suggestions!
Many breakfast foods include leavening in the ingredients, so you might need to make an adjustment in the breakfast department for this week. Yogurt with fresh fruit and granola over top is a favorite breakfast of mine. This is my family’s go-to recipe for granola, we love to eat it as cereal on Shabbat. Homemade granola bars are fun if you are on the go, and homemade crepes are delicious with cream cheese and strawberries or baked with cheese and smoked turkey.
If you look up recipes or instructions for Passover grains are usually avoided, however, the Bible doesn’t say we can’t have grains during this week. Grains are a great replacement for bread for lunch or dinner. I love grain bowls especially with farro – an ancient grain that is similar to barley, but you could also use quinoa or rice instead. They are a great way to use up leftover meat or they can be paired with roasted salmon or chicken.
Pasta is another food that many avoid during this time, but again most pasta does not have leavening in it, so it is fine to eat during the feast days. I’m not usually a pasta person, but if you can’t eat bread, pasta is amazing! Chicken alfredo pasta is delicious, especially with broccoli. Beef or veggie lasagna is delicious and of course, mac and cheese is a must-have!
In the springtime during these semi-warm days, spring soups are perfect to pair with matzah. Most black-eyed peas and split pea soups have ham, so maybe try using beef sausage or leave the meat out entirely! I love black-eyed peas and I hope to make it this Passover!
I love to eat a cookie as a mid-day or night-time treat. Of course, I can’t have them during Passover so I had to get creative in terms of desserts. Fun dessert ideas are ice cream, fruit galettes – a free-form tart, or a fruit pie- my favorites are cherry and apple.
That’s it, those were my meal ideas for Passover and the days of Unleavened Bread. I hope you gained some ideas for your holiday season. Let me know which meal was your favorite! Have a wonderful Passover. Shalom!