Michael Solomonov knows a thing or three about putting together a Passover menu. Not only is he a three-time James Beard Award winner, he’s also the author of Israeli Soul and the chef/owner of the nationally acclaimed Zahav restaurant in Philadelphia. At Zahav, Solomonov frequently makes matzo in his wood-burning oven and he’s created all sorts of surprising dishes like Smoked Matzo Ball Soup and deep-fried matzo balls. So of course, the Passover recipes that he’s shared with us are as inventive and fool-proof as you’d expect. Plus, they’re sure to please everyone around the seder table (including your oh-so-traditional Bubbie). Here are five of Michael Solomonov’s favorite seder recipes that you won’t want to, um, pass over.
You may not really associate raw fish with Passover, but this dish will get it on your radar. If features thinly sliced hamachi (yellowtail), which gets covered in roasted beets, horseradish, lemon juice, labneh, chives, and parsley. Note: If you can’t find labneh (a Middle Eastern yogurt cheese), you can just use plain Greek yogurt instead.
Once you try this homemade matzo, you’ll never settle for the store-bought stuff ever again. And we promise, it’s not all that complicated or time-consuming to make. Just combine flour and salt in a stand mixer and slowly add water until you’ve got something that matches the consistency of pizza dough. Then without allowing the dough to rest, roll it out and bake it until the matzo is lightly browned and crispy.
Once you’ve got all that homemade matzo, use half of it to make this dish. You’ll take super tender braised meat and sautéed vegetables and layer them between pieces of matzo—almost like a lasagna, only way more Kosher for Passover. Most of the elements of this casserole can be made in advance so that, come seder night, all you have to do is reheat the filling, assemble the casserole, and bake.
First an explainer in case you don’t know what nigella seeds are: they’re found mainly in Egypt and India, and have a mild, nutty onion-y flavor. You can usually pick them up at well-stocked spice shops or order them online—or you can just sub in cumin seeds or celery seeds. Okay, moving on to the rest of this refreshing dish: It’s got radishes, zucchini, mint, and lemon juice, so it’s nice and light. Meaning: It pairs well with that heavier brisket.
Brisket usually gets all the attention when we talk about main dishes for Passover, but halibut should definitely get a second look. Especially considering the first night of Passover falls on a Friday this year, and many Sephardic families traditionally eat fish on Friday nights as part of the Shabbat meal. In this dish, a light, flaky fish gets served on top of slightly tender slices of fennel and haricots verts. Just multiply the recipe, depending on the number of guests you’ll be having—and make sure you use a nonstick skillet.