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By Sarah Spigelman Richter
Macaroon cake
Passover macaroon cake with coconut ganacheToday

Passover began Monday night at sundown, and though you may have eaten mom's dried out brisket and grandma's matzo ball soup, why not go all out for the rest of the week? From macaroon cake and deep-fried matzo balls with wasabi cream sauce to Mexican gefilte fish, try some culinary mash-ups this year.

Passover macaroon cake with coconut ganache

Macaroons are a classic Passover cookie, made with shredded coconut, sugar, and no flour. Cheryl Sternman Rule takes it one step further and, adapting Francois' Payard's recipe and turning it into a sticky, rich cake studded with pistachios and perfumed with cardamom. She uses coconut cream for the chocolate ganache, making this cake totally dairy-free, gluten-free, and grain-free. However, with its sweet coconut shreds, rich ganache, and crunchy pistachios, you can be sure it won't be flavor-free. Get the recipe. 

French-fried chicken nuggets

Kids are hard to please any day of the week, but once you take away staples like pizza, sandwiches, and pretzels, you may be in for an eight-night hunger strike. Busy in Brooklyn's Chanie Apfelbaum comes to the rescue with her french-fried chicken nuggets. This french fry/chicken nugget hybrid replaces traditional breading with mashed potato flakes for a crunchy fried treat that is Passover-approved. Chanie says that the finished product reminds her of chicken nuggets combined with tater tots – we say it just reminds us of childhood! Get the recipe. 

Roasted mushroom quinoa risotto.

mushroom quinoa risotto

It isn't just grains that are prohibited on Passover – due to ancient customs, foods like legumes, corn, and quinoa have also been prohibited for Ashkenazi Jews. However, just this year the Orthodox Union (the head honcho on Kosher rules) has deemed quinoa kosher for Passover. That means that Tori Avey, The Shiksa in the Kitchen, can lend you her recipe for roasted mushroom quinoa risotto. She roasts the mushrooms until they are meaty and juicy, then stirs them into quinoa that is cooked slowly with broth, risotto style. The quinoa gets healthy dollops of cream and cheese for a dish that is rich and creamy. Get the recipe. 

Deep-fried matzo balls with wasabi cream sauce

deep-fried matzo balls

A matzo ball is a matzo ball is a matzo ball, right? Unless you fry it and serve it, egg-roll style, with wasabi cream. Amy Kritzer, of What Jew Wanna Eat takes standard matzo balls, dunks them in a matzo meal batter, and shallow fries those puppies until they are crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. The finishing touch is a sour cream and wasabi dipping sauce that is a haute step up from wasabi's more conventional cousin, horseradish. Her ode to the Texas State Fair is part tradition, part dedication to all things fried. Get the recipe. 

Vegan gefilte fish

Of course, if you are vegan, the standard fish quenelles known as gefilte fish just won't fly. That is where Debra Jill Mazer's vegan gefilte “wish” comes into play. It uses nuts, vegetables, and spices that are slowly dehydrated and baked before they are served plain or with the traditional horseradish. Finally, your cool college cousin can join in family traditions without giving up her beliefs. These are so good that even grandma won't believe that they aren't really fish. Get the recipe. 

Mexican gefilte fish

Mexican gefilte fish

If you want to stick with actual fish for gefilte fish, you still don’t have to go full-on traditional. Pati Jinich, of Pati's Mexican Table, introduces Mexican gefilte fish. Her Polish grandmother, who came to Mexico to escape persecution, created the recipe based on her traditional Polish versions but adapted to include the ingredients easily found in Mexico. This version uses the same fish, but is poached in a pungent broth with tomatoes, olives, and capers, and is served hot. It's piquant, savory, and a totally new take on the gefilte fish of your youth. Don't be afraid to serve it with a side of guacamole! Get the recipe. 

Gefilte fish-matzo ball fusion soup

Everyone is in a hurry these days, and if you are on-the-go, you might feel the need to squeeze a few courses into just one dish. If that's the case, head over to Cook Play Explore for some Gefilte fish-matzo ball fusion soup. It's all the good stuff in one: poached fish mixed into a fluffy matzo ball and served in a horseradish and beet-flavored chicken broth. It's basically the Passover version of a Hot Pocket, except that it's homemade, wholesome, and reminds you of your Aunt Yuliya. Get the recipe. 

For more from Sarah Spigelman, visit her blog, Fritos and Foie Gras.