Mexican Passover

Mexican Passover Menu – A Contemporary Blend of Flavors

My girlfriend is hosting the Passover dinner at her house this year and she asked for my help to plan the menu.  She is Hispanic and her husband is Jewish.  In doing some research, I found a few great recipe ideas at that compliments their background.


The Mexican inspired seder dishes are from Roberto Santibanez, culinary director of Rosa Mexicano restaurant. He has created colorful spicy Passover dishes that marry Jewish and traditional Mexican flavors with a contemporary flare.

The Menu for 6 People
  • Tropical Charoset
  • Slow-Braised Lamb Shanks with Guajillo-Pineapple Sauce, Roasted Vegetables, and Coconut Tamales
  • Chocolate-Covered Poached Pears with Apricot-Pecan Stuffing and Chile Sabayon

Tropical Charoset

Charoset is a traditional Passover condiment and it represents the mortar used by Israelite slaves in Egypt. This contemporary Mexican version uses puréed bananas and other fruit which are cooked down to a sweet spread.


  • 1 pear, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 3 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 3 bananas, peeled and mashed
  • 2 cups pitted dates (about 1 lb)
  • 2 cups sliced or slivered almonds (about 8 oz)
  • 2 tablespoons ground canela
  • 1 cup sweet red wine, such as Manischewitz Extra Heavy Malaga, plus additional if needed
  • Matzoh or corn tortillas


Combine all ingredients in food processor and purée. Transfer mixture to large saucepan and simmer over low heat, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool completely, then chill, covered, until cold. Serve with matzoh or corn tortillas.

Slow-Braised Lamb Shanks with Guajillo-Pineapple Sauce, Roasted Vegetables, and Coconut Tamales

Ingredients for guajillo-pineapple sauce

  • 14 dried guajillo chiles (about 3 oz)
  • 6 dried chiles de arbol
  • 1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored, and chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 2 tablespoons ground canela (see Tips, below)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

For lamb

  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tablespoon ground canela (see Tips, below)
  • Six large lamb shanks (about 1 1/4 pounds each), trimmed of excess fat
  • Six 1/2-inch-thick fresh pineapple rings, cored
  • 6 large sheets parchment paper
  • Kitchen twine


Make guajillo-pineapple sauce
Wipe guajillo chiles clean with a damp cloth, then slice off stem ends and remove seeds. Preheat large skillet over medium heat, then toast chiles, turning frequently, until fragrant and beginning to darken, about 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl, cover with cold water, and soak 20 minutes.

While guajillos are soaking, toast chiles de arbol in same skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer to plate and cool.

Drain guajillos and combine in blender with chiles de arbol, pineapple, garlic, cumin, cloves, canela, orange juice, and 1 cup water. Blend until very smooth.

Heat olive oil in medium saucepan over medium heat and fry sauce, stirring occasionally with wooden spoon, 30 minutes. Mix in vinegar and sugar; season with salt. Strain sauce through fine sieve, discarding solids. Cool completely. (Sauce can be made ahead and stored, covered, in refrigerator. Before using, taste and add salt if needed.)

Prepare lamb
Combine orange zest and canela in medium bowl. Rinse lamb shanks and pat dry. Sprinkle liberally with salt, then with orange-canela mixture. Set aside to rest for 15 minutes.

Arrange steamer rack in very large stockpot and add water to just below bottom of rack. Cover and bring water to boil.

Place 1 parchment sheet on work surface and place 1 pineapple slice in center. Put 1 lamb shank, bone pointing upward, on top of pineapple, and spoon a thick coating of guajillo-pineapple sauce over meat. Draw up sides of parchment and tie tightly around bone with kitchen twine. Assemble 5 more pouches in same manner and place in steamer. Steam until meat is very tender and falling off the bone, about 2 1/2 hours.

To serve, place each pouch on a plate, untie, and discard twine. Spoon some roasted vegetables onto parchment next to meat, and place 2 coconut tamales alongside.
Chocolate-Covered Poached Pears with Apricot-Pecan Stuffing and Chile Sabayon

Poached Pears

  • 1 bottle full-bodied red wine such as Zinfandel
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 3-inch stick canela (see Tips, below)
  • 1 teaspoon anise seeds
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 6 whole Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and hollowed (see Tips, below)
  • Parchment paper


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar

Chocolate Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate, chopped

Spicy Sabayon Sauce

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon chile powder

For Serving

  • 2 pints fresh raspberries
  • Six mint sprigs

Poach pears
Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit inside mouth of a heavy large pot. Combine wine, sugar, vanilla bean, canela, anise seeds, and lemon zest in pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Add pears and enough water to cover, 3 to 4 cups. Place parchment paper over pears to keep them submerged, and bring liquid to gentle simmer. Simmer until pears are just tender, about 12 minutes. Remove pears, discarding liquid, cool completely, and refrigerate until chilled.

Make stuffing
Melt butter or margarine in medium skillet over medium heat. Add pecans and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Add chopped apricots and cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Add brown sugar and cook mixture, stirring constantly, until light syrup develops, about 1 more minute. Remove from heat and cool.

Stuff pecan mixture into hollowed pears, packing tightly. Refrigerate until chilled.

Make chocolate sauce
Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt butter or margarine in small saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate.

Remove pears from refrigerator and dip into chocolate sauce, tilting and swirling pan to coat bottom half of each pear.

Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until chocolate is set.

Make sabayon
In metal bowl whisk together egg yolks, wine, sugar, and chile powder until well combined. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water and cook mixture, whisking constantly, until foamy and thick enough that strokes leave a clear path, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove bowl from over water.

To serve
Ladle sabayon into 6 shallow bowls. Place 1 pear in each bowl. Garnish with fresh mint and berries.



To get your guests talking at dinner with this Passover Box of Questions


One comment on “Mexican Passover Menu – A Contemporary Blend of Flavors

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