Passover will soon be here. My husband’s family is planning a “virtual” Seder meal and service via “Zoom.” With family is scattered all over the country and unable to travel and local folks trying to maintain 6 feet of space at a table, this seems like a good solution. We are living in a new era. One dish at the Seder meal which I particularly enjoy is Haroset which is served along with Matzah. Several years ago, a friend brought Haroset to our Seder which was absolutely delicious. The combination of apples and walnuts in a sweet sauce is good to eat anytime of the year — whether or not you are celebrating Passover or another religious observance. I made the recipe to share with you.
What is Haroset?
What is a haroset (or charoset)? The dish is a sweet combination of fruit, nuts and honey mixed with red wine (often sweet grape wine) which is one of the items and symbols found on the Seder plate during a Passover meal. The dish is intended to emulate the mortar that the Israelite people used to make adobe bricks when they were enslaved in Egypt. Although it can be made with may types of fruit and nuts, I am familiar with recipes containing apples. At a Seder meal several years ago, my friend brought this Haroset dish which I really enjoyed . It was so simple, yet so tasty.
I have in my notes from 2014 that this recipe is adapted from Wolfgang Puck, an Austrian-American chef of Food Network fame. Although we’ve substituted apple types and changed quantities, the basic ingredients are the same — apples, lemon juice, walnuts, cinnamon, honey and Passover red wine.
There are many types of apples which can be used including Fuji, Granny Smith and Honey Crisp. A tart, crisp apple works best. I found these Honey Crisp apples when I when shopping and purchased them. You could also use a combination of apples.
To make the dish, quarter the apples then peel and core each piece. Slice each quarter lengthwise into thin slices and again crosswise to make small flat chunks. It’s easier to load the flat pieces onto small matzoh squares. Add a little lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown.
Walnuts are the secret ingredient in this recipe. The aromatic flavor of walnuts makes the dish flavorful. The key is to toast the walnuts first in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes or so to bring out their aromatic flavors. Then finely chop and add to the apples.
Sprinkle on ground cinnamon and stir well to mix in. Then add the honey and Kosher for Passover red wine. If you don’t want to use red wine, substitute grape juice. That’s it! Serve with matzvah squares.
Passover Red Wine
The recipe calls for “Passover Red Wine.” Typically, this refers to a sweet Concord grape wine which is made especially for Passover. I have always associated the Manischewitz brand of wines and their matzah with Passover. For Passover, their wines are made from cane sugar and not corn syrup and contain a special symbol on the front of the bottle.
Our local grocery store seems to constantly re-arrange the isles making it hard for me to find certain foods. When I went shopping and asked for “Passover Wine”, the clerk took me right by the “ethnic” isle and over to the wine section of the store. Obviously he didn’t know what I was looking for, and the store apparently doesn’t stock this special Passover wine. Although these wines are Kosher, they are not made especially for Passover.
Anyway, I purchased a bottle of the Concord grape wine and one of the Blackberry wine. Hey, I will get to be creative thinking of things to make with the blackberry wine and we will drink the rest of the grape wine at our virtual Seder meal stretching the limits of what is “technically correct.” This is a really large bottle of wine and I don’t particularly care for sweet, sweet wine. But In this case, the two of us might just drink it all anyway! And If you don’t want to use wine, substitute grape juice in the haroset recipe.
At the Seder meal on the first eve of Passover, spread a little of the haroset on the matzah along with some horseradish at the appropriate part of the story. However, this delicious apple compote may not make it for a week until Passover begins. Enjoy!
Apple and Walnut Compote a.k.a. Haroset
- 1 cup walnut pieces
- 3 large Honey Crisp apples
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 Tbsp Kosher for Passover red wine (such as Manischewitz brand) or grape juice
Method and Steps:
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Place the walnuts on baking sheet and toast for 5 to 10 minutes until aromatic. Immediately remove from oven and baking sheet and onto either a chopping board or food processor bowl. Chop, either by hand, or pulse using food processor, until rather fine. Set aside.
- Quarter, peel and core the apples. Slice each quarter into thin lengthwise slices. Then slice crosswise into small chunks. Place in medium-sized bowl and douse with lemon juice. Stir to coat.
- Sprinkle cinnamon over apples and stir to combine.
- Add walunts and toss.
- Stir in the honey and Kosher for Passover red wine (or grape juice)
- Refrigerate until ready to serve. May be made a day ahead.