The seder, a celebration held during the first two nights of Passover, is meal that is literally built around symbolic foods used to tell the story of the exodus of the Jews from enslavement under the ancient Pharaohs in Egypt.
A seder plate composed of these foods is placed on the table and used to prescribe the order of the ceremony and courses that go along with it.
This ritualized meal, along with the best known dietary restriction of Passover – the prohibition of leavened foods – could make the holiday seem rigid and dull. Yet, for most Jewish families it is perhaps the most joyously anticipated event of the year. It not only brings large gatherings of family and friends, but it also is a celebration built around so many delicious foods.
And surprisingly, besides the central seder plate and absence of leavened breads and other grains, there really are few rules about what the menu should be. Given the timing of the holiday, why not make the meal a celebration of spring foods?
The seder also has inspired many creative approaches to baking. This flourless dessert from Joan Nathan’s “Quiches, Kugels and Couscous,” has a beautiful pale orange color and is perfect for Passover. Traditionally, it would not be served with a topping (especially at a seder), but could be lightly sprinkled with some chopped hazelnuts for garnish.