Tonight is the first night of Passover. I had a busy day of work, school, more work, and more school. I wasn’t raised with any religious education and wouldn’t claim to be observant. A dear friend converted to Judaism several years ago. Early in the process, she would call me with questions. I wasn’t much help. I did gift her a copy of Joan Nathan’s The Jewish Holiday Kitchen, which is an excellent resource. The inscription read, “I’ll always eat pork with you.” I get to be a (red-headed, blue-eyed, freckled) Jew (with a Danish last name) because my mom is Jewish.
I told myself that not having a seder to attend was fine. But I have come to realize that I mark the passage of time primarily through food rituals. Somewhere between Bleecker Street in the West Village and Nevins Street in Downtown Brooklyn, I realized that I needed to do something to observe the holiday. As I transferred from the 4 train to the 2 train, I began to catalog the ingredients at the seder table and sort out how I could make them into a quick meal for one. I figured I’d knocked out the lamb last weekend. And my diet includes plenty of eggs. But I did manage to incorporate charoset, matzo, bitter herbs, karpas and wine into my Passover dinner for one.
The resulting dish can be scaled up to feed a crowd but comes together quickly enough that you can justify making it when you still have a few hours of theoretical approaches to cooking shows to read before bed.
Horseradish, Parsley and Matzo-Crusted Salmon
- 1 six-ounce wild salmon filet
- 1 sheet matzo, crushed into a mixture of powder and small pieces
- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons finely minced curly parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
- Rinse and pat the fish dry. Pour a bit of oil into a glass baking dish, place the salmon skin side down and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Using a spoon, mound the matzo mixture on top of your fish.
- Cook the salmon approximately 9 minutes until opaque on the outside but still a little jiggly.
While the oven was preheating, I made a quick version of a Sephardic-style charoset by poaching raisins, dried and quartered figs, and diced red onion in some leftover red wine, honey and lemon juice with a bit of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, clove and black pepper. I ate this spooned into endive, which made for a great bitter herb, and topped with batons of Adelegger, a very funky raw cow’s milk Alpine cheese (good cheese being my chosen religion).