10 Low-Cost Dishes for Passover Seder
During Passover, the Bible says, Jewish people should abstain from eating anything made from barley, oats, wheat, rye, and spelt that is not cooked within 18 minutes of coming into contact with water. This symbolic remembrance of the Israelites' short-notice escape from slavery in Egypt, when there was no time to let bread rise, can challenge home cooks. Whether the goal is sticking to a budget while hosting the ritual seder or planning low-cost menus for the eight-day holiday, these 10 dishes hew to tradition and satisfy hungry stomachs.Related: How to Have a Budget-Friendly Passover Seder
This classic appetizer epitomizes the Eastern European strain of Jewish cooking: rich, fattening, and made from the cheap remains of costlier ingredients. Chicken livers may be humbly priced, but they can headline a meal when treated with care and dressed up with schmaltz (rendered chicken fat), onions, eggs, simple seasoning. Serve this traditional dish garnished with parsley and accompanied by matzo crackers for dipping and spreading.
Cream cheese is an ever-present ingredient on Jewish tables, and the Passover holiday is no different -- even sans bagels. Make classic finger sandwiches by spreading matzo with a thin layer of cream cheese and another of cucumber slices, then top with another piece of matzo slathered with cream cheese (cheese side down). Cut into tiny finger sandwiches and serve as appetizers.
Serve quick and easy dill dip as an appetizer or side dish or bring as an offering to a seder hosted by someone else. Whip up sour cream, dill, and mayonnaise and pair with inexpensive fresh vegetables, such as carrots and celery. This recipe can also serve as dressing for a simple green salad.
Roasted potatoes are always a hit, especially when the meal is otherwise light on satisfying carbs. Potato-based dishes also appeal to frugal cooks because spuds are cheap and require little more than heat and oil to make them irresistibly delicious. For herb-roasted potatoes, use one Idaho potato per person and cut into bite-size chunks. Toss the pieces with salt, pepper, olive oil, and dried herbs such as oregano and thyme, and bake in a 375-degree oven until the edges are crisp and golden and the centers are tender, about 30 minutes.
Bring warm spice to a Passover meal while paying homage to the once-large Jewish population of Morocco with this aromatic roasted carrot dish. The layers of spicy and sweet seasonings make it a versatile companion to other sides and many main courses. The flavor base is built on a few cents' worth of cinnamon, red pepper, cumin, and lemon. While Cooking Light's recipe calls for baby carrots, substituting less expensive regular carrots, cut in half, is totally acceptable.
Add a sophisticated touch to the Passover table with a simple beet and orange salad. Based on two delicious and inexpensive ingredients, the salad calls for supporting flavors -- garlic, olive oil, and vinegar -- that are kitchen staples. Create more volume and eye appeal, and highlight the sweetness and earthiness of the salad, by layering the red vegetable and orange fruit over spicy greens such as arugula or frisée.
Vegetarian entrées for Passover are a rarity but can be a welcome option even for omnivores who have been indulging in a lot of heavy holiday food. Portabella mushrooms are also less costly than many cuts of meat. Following a Joy of Kosher recipe, stuff them with matzo meal, brie, sundried tomatoes, and herbs for a creamy and decadent meal. Switch out the brie with mozzarella for a milder flavor or blue cheese for a more intense taste.
In these days of fusion cooking, the simple delicacies too often fall by the wayside. Passover is a good time to get back to basics with traditional comfort foods, and roast chicken could hardly be more simple or delicious. No need to spend money on fancy wine for sauce or unusual spices. A plump chicken, salt, and pepper are all it takes -- plus a good roasting at 475 degrees to start and 400 degrees to finish. Lining the pan with a layer of inexpensive root vegetables is optional but makes for an easy built-in side dish.
Dessert is often a challenge for Jewish cooks who refrain from serving dairy and meat at the same meal. Chocolate mousse cake is an indulgent after-dinner treat that hits the right notes: everyone's favorite sweet and a dairy-free recipe calling for pantry staples such as eggs, sugar, and vanilla. The most expensive part is the 7 ounces of chocolate. Use coconut oil instead of margarine for a more healthful and flavorful cake.
This kid-friendly dessert is a surefire way to get everyone into the Passover spirit. Treat matzo just like graham crackers and combine with gooey marshmallows and melted chocolate. Roast the marshmallows with a lit candle or place a few in a bowl along with some chocolate, pop into the microwave, and heat for 30 seconds. Spoon the mixture between two pieces of matzo -- and smile.