Passover seders, the traditional ceremonial Passover meal, are among my favorite holiday gatherings. There’s something beautiful about every family finding their own way to re-tell and discuss a story so important to the Jewish people. And then there’s the ritual and food, both of which revolve around the seder plate.
On every seder plate, you place six symbolic foods that remain on the plate in the middle of the table (and also often hint at the foods that will be served at the meal). If you’re hosting your first seder, you want a simple way to talk it through with the kids, you need a refresher, or are just curious, here’s how to put together your very own seder plate for Passover.
There is a wonderful overview of what goes on a seder plate at Joy of Kosher. I’d say, that’s a great place to dig in further, and also to get recipes. So many recipes!
In the meantime, here’s the basic rundown of the six foods you’ll find on a seder plate, and what each represents.
1. A roasted shank bone (Zeroah): A reminder of the Passover offering.
2. Hard-boiled egg (Beitzah): A symbol of the temple sacrifice and cycle of life. Joy explains why the egg should be roasted too.
3. Bitter herb (Maror): To represent the bitterness of slavery.
4. Charoset: A sweet mixture of chopped apple, walnuts, and traditionally, red wine, charoset is meant to resemble the bricks and mortar used by Jewish slaves to build the pyramid of the pharaohs. Check out these fantastic charoset recipes and try to pick just one. (Not possible.)
5. Vegetable (Karpas): The vegetable can be a slice of onion, boiled potato, or what I’ve seen most often, sprigs of parsley. Whatever you choose, you’ll also need a small bowl of salted water. The vegetable is dipped into the salt water to represent the salty tears cried by enslaved Jewish people.
6. Romain lettuce (Chazeret): This is the second portion of bitter herbs in a seder, this time eaten in a matzo sandwich together with Maror. (Matzo is also key at a seder.) You can use ground horseradish, if you prefer.