Jon Varsano Sephardic Haroset
I grew up in a half Ashkenazi and half Sephardic family, but our Passover Seder was almost always at my Ashkenazi Grandmother Gert’s house. The haroset was very simple and the same every year. It consisted of roughly chopped peeled and cored apples, chopped walnuts, a little cinnamon, and overly sweet Manischewitz wine. As a child, I found it sweet and yummy. As I grew into adulthood and my tastes became more developed, I still enjoyed the Ashkenazi haroset but I knew that the Sephardic versions of haroset had more of a depth of flavor and texture. When the family seder shifted to my house, I started experimenting with various Sephardic haroset recipes. I refined those recipes and adapted to my particular tastes. The result is the following recipe that my friends ask for as a exotic addition to their traditional Ashkenazi seders.
- 1 1/4 cup of dates
- 1 cup of raisins
- 1/2 cup of rough chopped almonds
- 1/2 cup of shelled pistachios
- 1 orange
- 1/2 cup of honey
- 1/2 tsp of Ground Cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp of Ground Cloves
- 1 cup of sweet red wine (Port, Madeira, or similar)
- 2 Tbsp of Brandy or Cognac
- Place dates, raisins, wine, and brandy in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Make sure all fruit is covered in liquid, you may need to add more wine. Let marinate overnight (3 hours minimum)
- Strain out liquid (fortified wine) into a mixing bowl and set aside.
- Put marinated dates and raisins in a food processor. Add zest and juice of half of the orange. Add honey, cinnamon, and cloves. Pulse until combined. Add some of reserved wine until mixture is desired consistency of paste or jam. Note: The finished haroset will have a hint of fortified wine taste. If you don’t like that taste, then cook off the alcohol for a bout 5-10 minutes in a saucepan over a low heat.
- Add almonds and pistachios. Pulse again and add more orange juice or wine as needed. Finished haroset should resemble a tasty mortar for laying bricks in texture and consistency.
- Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator and serve with matzoh.