Spice It Up!
Everyone has that one moment in the seder that beckons their senses into the ancient story of redemption when one’s body, soul, and spirit fully come to rest in the beauty of the retelling.
For some, it is the gentle washing and drying of the hands, an act of intimate community expressed through tender care. Others have their special moment in the dipping of the fresh, peppery parsley soaked in a salty, watery dress, a sure taste of spring. For many, it’s their first taste of matzah that announces “Pesach!” Crunchy. Dry. Pierced and striped. Its familiar, subtle flavor is simple yet replete with meaning. It’s the bread of affliction that ties us directly to the story of the first exodus and the anticipation of the second.
The one moment that helps me fully enter the mo’ed (“festival”) is the traditional Hillel sandwich, where the pungent, bitter maror meets the spiced sweetness of the charoset on the matzah. This is the moment when every sense in my body becomes fully engaged in the history of my ancestors, welcoming me to relive the depth of the seder’s beauty again in my own generation. Every year, without fail, my eyes well up with tears (and not just from the maror!), and my heart enters a new tenderness as we experience bitter and sweet, life and death, suffering and comfort in our hands and our mouths.
In 2020, when most homes were under quarantine due to the global pandemic, I wanted to give my family a gift that would enliven our seder by bringing simple, refreshing twists to our beloved traditions. One of the elements I edited was the charoset. This modern twist on a venerable classic is sure to bring added layers of depth and pleasure. The crunchy, juicy pomegranate arils paired with the mild heat from the ginger transform the already delicious charoset into a sweet and spicy kiss. Pomegranate ginger charoset is great for the seder but equally enjoyable as part of a Passover charcuterie board featuring flavorful matzah, nuts, fruits, and cheeses.
- 3 apples (preferably 1 Granny Smith, 1 Pink Lady, and 1 Honeycrisp)
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
- 1 cup pomegranate arils, plus ¼ cup for garnish
- 2/3 cup grape juice or kosher-for-Passover wine
- 4 tbsp. your choice of pomegranate syrup, date syrup,
or balsamic glaze
- 1 tsp. ginger, freshly grated
- 1½ tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. ground cardamom
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- Mint leaves for garnish
Peel and dice the apples into a large bowl. Add chopped walnuts and pomegranate arils, leaving aside the extra ¼ cup of arils for the garnish. Mix well.
Add grape juice or wine, the glaze of your choice, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and kosher salt. Mix well.
Garnish with pomegranate arils and mint leaves.
First Fruits of Zion