Synagogue in Rome’s Jewish Neighborhood, Trastevere

Synagogue in Rome’s Jewish Neighborhood – Trastevere

Passover is a celebration of freedom that is appreciated not only by Jews, but by people all over the world. The Jewish community has long been a significant part of the Italian heritage and culture, as has been their celebration of this important holiday. Since the 2nd century BC, Passover festivities, in Italy, include religious rituals, family gatherings and, of course, food. Through the years, the Italian Jewish community, has developed an Italian style in preparing Passover dishes.

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Even though the basic tradition of a Passover Seder remains the same, such as drinking four cups of wine and eating matzo, etc., the Italian influence can be recognized on the Seder table in Italy, as follows:

Maror and chazeret – bitter herbs are used to symbolize the bitterness of slavery.

Haroset all’Italiana – a paste-like mixture of ground dates, oranges, raisins and figs, which are substitutes for the traditional Charoset, a brown compound that stands for the mortar used by the Jewish slaves to build pyramids.

Antipasto of bresaola, air dried beef with arugula and lemon.

Stracciatella – an egg-drop soup, is a substitute for the hard-boiled egg that is a mourning food in the Jewish faith, but also signifies the cycle or circle of life.

Carciofi alla Giudia – Jewish style artichokes are fried and are a specialty of the Roman Jewish community.

passoverRoman-Fried-Artichoke

Marzoh Lasagna (Mazzagne) is prepared with vegetables, matzot and lamb meat.

Lamb is part of the meal because it represents the sacrifice before the destruction of the Temple. Many of Rome’s Jews arrived there just after the time of the destruction of the second Temple and brought (and kept) many of the ancient traditions.

Insalata Sefardita – a salad of romaine, dill and green onions with red wine vinaigrette.

Zucchini Tomato “Lasagne”

passover lasagna

Servings: 6

Ingredients

Lemon-Pignoli Filling

  • 2 cups raw pignoli nuts, soaked in water for at least 1 hour
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Tomato Sauce

  • 2 cups good-quality sun-dried tomatoes (dry-packed), soaked in water for at least 2 hours
  • 1 medium ripe tomato, diced
  • 1/4 of a small onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Pinch hot-pepper flakes

Basil-Pistachio Pesto

  • 2 cups packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup raw pistachios
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Lasagne

  • 3 medium zucchini, ends trimmed
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Garnish: whole basil leaves

Directions

Lemon-Pignoli Filling

Place the pignoli nuts, lemon juice and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times, until thoroughly combined.

Gradually add 6 tablespoons water and pulse until the texture becomes fluffy, like ricotta. Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.

Tomato Sauce

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

Basil-Pistachio Pesto

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.

Lasagne

Using a mandoline slicer or vegetable peeler, shave zucchini lengthwise into very thin slices, then cut in half crosswise.

Cut the tomatoes in half and each half into thin slices.

Line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with two layers of zucchini slices.

Brush the zucchini lightly with olive oil, spread 1⁄3 of the tomato sauce over it, and top with small teaspoons of pignoli filling and pesto, using 1⁄3 of each.

Add 1⁄3 of the tomato slices and sprinkle with 1⁄3 of the oregano and thyme.

Add another double layer of zucchini and repeat twice more with the tomato sauce, pesto, filling, tomato slices and herbs.

Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for a few hours before serving. Garnish with basil.

Passover Spring Lamb

passoverlamb

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds (1.5 k) kid or spring lamb chops
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3-4 stems Italian parsley, leaves removed
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • The juice of one lemon

Directions

Tie the parsley stems together. Place the chops in a skillet with the olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley and water over low heat.

Simmer for about an hour, or until the meat is fork-tender, then remove and discard the parsley.

Whisk the yolks with the lemon juice, turn the burner off and pour the egg mixture over the meat. Give the skillet a brisk shake to mix in the sauce and heat for a minute or two. Serve at once.

Puréed Carrots

passover carrots

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 2 lb carrots, peeled and cut into 1⁄2″ slices
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or honey⁄
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions

Combine the carrots, broth, sugar and salt in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat; bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the carrots are very tender, 20 minutes.

Drain the carrots, reserving the 1⁄4 cup of cooking liquid.

Heat the olive oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and fragrant, about 2–3 minutes.

Remove from the heat and place in a food processor along with the carrots and orange juice; purée until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Add 1–2 tablespoons of the reserved cooking liquid to make a smooth purée. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Italian Passover Cake

passovercake

Ingredients

  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups almond meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • Garnishes: Powdered sugar and chopped almonds

Directions

Grease a 10 inch springform pan or round cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

Heat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Whisk the egg yolks until light in color.

Beat in the rest of the ingredients, except the egg whites, ending with the almond meal. It will be very stiff at this point.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.

Fold one third of the egg whites into the almond mixture.

Fold the rest of the egg whites into the mixture and pour into the prepared pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool completely in the pan.

Remove from the pan and sprinkle the top of the cake with powdered sugar and chopped almonds.

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