This year’s Passover Seder may once again be different from the usual feast, as it remains difficult to safely gather for holidays with anyone but immediate family members or small groups of vaccinated adults. But with smaller groups to entertain, there’s less pressure, so now is an ideal time to test out some new recipes, or twists on the standards. That way you’re ready to show off freshly mastered dishes the next time you can host a big gathering.

We’ve selected five reader favorites from well-known Jewish chefs and cookbook authors who shared some of their Passover menu standbys, such as braised flanken in lieu of brisket, make-ahead short ribs livened up by an Israeli spice blend and a savory meat pie with a matzo crust. There are also vegetarian sides and a chocolate cake so tempting you’ll want to make it year-round.

To serve alongside, our editors have picked out 20 kosher wines from California, France and Israel that have scored very good to outstanding in recent Wine Spectator blind tastings. There are easy-drinking red and white values, a crisp rosé, luxury bottlings of big reds such as Cabernet- and Syrah-based blends, and plenty in between.

Flanken Pot au Feu

The owners of California-based kosher wine brand Covenant, Jeff and Jodie Morgan are also cookbook authors, and their 2015 book, The Covenant Kitchen: Food and Wine for the New Jewish Table, features this marriage of a classic French beef stew and the traditional Jewish interpretation of short ribs. Perfect for holidays because it can be cooked in advance and kept warm, the Morgans’ recipe calls for slow-braising the meat with a bouquet garni, or an herb bundle, contributing delicate flavors to the broth. Rather than using a cut more akin to a brisket, the Morgans like the flanken here because the bones add complexity to the broth. It’s cooked along with onion, potatoes, carrots, leeks and turnips for a well-rounded dish. The obvious wine pairing is a full-bodied, rich Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah, but a medium-bodied Pinot Noir could work, too, with enough weight to stand up to the red meat and some fruitiness to echo the sweet flavors of the vegetables.

These vibrant vegetarian sides mix local seasonal vegetables with Mediterranean toppings. (Michael Pisarri)

Michelle Bernstein’s Grilled Asparagus with Salsa Romesco

In 2017, we asked Miami-based chef and cookbook author Michelle Bernstein, who’s currently running her own catering company, for ideas to add a little variety to the traditional Passover dishes. She shared two kosher vegetarian recipes that bring a pop of color and bright spring flavors to the table. The grilled asparagus capitalizes on peak season for the vegetable; the preparation is simple, but the bold romesco sauce—integrating Sherry vinegar, jalapeño peppers and Marcona almonds—packs a wallop of Catalan flavors. As a bonus, it can be made up to three days in advance. Her second option, cauliflower steaks with garlic aioli, also takes advantage of fresh vegetables and a Mediterranean sauce, finished off with the bite of capers, the sweetness of golden raisins and more almonds. “The cauliflower toppings are also great on fish!” adds Bernstein, who sometimes serves roast snapper for Passover. A bright Sauvignon Blanc is ideal for asparagus dishes. With its toasty flavors, the cauliflower can handle whites that are a little richer but still have vibrant acidity; try a Chardonnay–Sauvignon Blanc blend or another of the options below. Get the recipes!

 Portrait of Adeena Sussman next to a photo of her braised short ribs with kohlrabi mash and carrots

The star of this dish is hawaiij, a currylike spice blend that gives the short ribs a distinctive flavor; Adeena Sussman’s favorite source is New York Shuk. (© 2019 by Dan Perez)

Adeena Sussman’s Braised Short Ribs with Roasted Kohlrabi Mash

Cookbook author Adeena Sussman’s most personal project may be her 2019 book, Sababa (Hebrew slang for “it’s all good”), written after she moved from the United States to Tel Aviv. In it, she recreates beloved Israeli dishes with hints of international influences. This dish, ideal for making ahead of the Seder feast, is emblematic of her style: “It has the bones of an American recipe, like a braised short rib or meat, but it has a flavor profile that’s very suggestive of local cuisine here,” Sussman says. That’s thanks to the hawaiij, a currylike spice blend of black pepper, cumin, cardamom, coriander and turmeric. It’s accompanied by a mash of roasted kohlrabi—a relative of cabbage and broccoli that tastes like a milder, sweeter version of them but looks like a turnip—as a less starchy alternative to mashed potatoes.

For a wine pick, Sussman, who is a fan of Covenant’s Israel and California bottlings, selects a structured blend of mostly Syrah with some Cabernet Sauvignon, but notes that “any full-bodied red wine that serves up a spicy note would pair beautifully with this dish.” She also likes a rosé for a fresh, light and lively contrast to the rich short ribs.

 A savory ground beef mina topped with charoset

Mina, topped here with carrots, apples, walnuts and raisins, uses matzo for the pie crust. (Mike Persico)

Michael Solomonov’s Mina with Ground Beef, Cardamom and Coffee

This recipe for a savory meat pie with an unleavened matzo crust comes from Israel-born chef and Philadelphia restaurateur Michael Solomonov. Perhaps best known for Zahav, his landmark restaurant dedicated to modern Israeli cuisine, he has published three cookbooks and oversees seven other Philly dining concepts, the newest of which is Israel-style grill Laser Wolf, under the CookNSolo restaurant group. As a Passover main dish, Solomonov proposes a mina (the Ladino word for “pie”) in which smoky ground beef is richly flavored with cardamom and coffee. A side dish of beet salad, with its sweet-and-sour and vegetal notes, acts as the perfect counterpoint to the mina. For wine pairings, Zahav general manager Okan Yazici suggested an opulent, structured Israeli Merlot-Cabernet blend with the mina, while a Rhône-style white, balancing richness and acidity, will play off the earthy beets and piquant horseradish.

 Lucious chocolate-glazed chocolate bundt cake garnished with raspberries

This fudgy cake gets its decadent texture from coconut oil and cooked quinoa in lieu of flour. (Bill Milne / The Healthy Jewish Kitchen)

Chocolate Quinoa Cake

This mouthwatering dessert, from Paula Shoyer, the voice behind The Kosher Baker, is not only perfect for Passover, but also makes a tempting treat anytime you’re cooking for someone following a gluten-free diet. From her 2017 kosher cookbook, The Healthy Jewish Kitchen, the recipe is in keeping with the rest of the book’s focus on fresh, uncomplicated food made with minimal processed ingredients and suited to a busy, modern family’s needs. Shoyer cooks and purees quinoa as the base grain to hold the cake together. To avoid fats like margarine or processed vegetable oil, she uses coconut oil, mixed with dark unsweetened cocoa and vanilla extract, to create a dense, fudgy dessert. For added elegance, she’ll dress the cake with an optional melted chocolate glaze and dot it with fresh raspberries as a garnish. Shoyer maintains that people won’t know it’s gluten-free or made of quinoa: “I wanted this cake to be really rich and trick everybody.”

Top Kosher Red Wines

Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding and very good wines from recently rated releases. More kosher options can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.

TABOR

Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee Malkiya 2016

Score: 91 | $62

WS Review: Nicely crafted with hallmark cedar, currant and spice notes interwoven with olive, graphite and forest floor details. There’s focus to this full-bodied red, with muscular tannins and notes of mocha and leather tracing along the finish. Kosher. From Israel.—Gillian Sciaretta

DOMAINE DU CASTEL

Petit Castel Haute-Judée 2018

Score: 90 | $53

WS Review: Marked by both power and focus, with red berry and currant notes flanked with graphite, cedar and savory spice elements all supported by taught tannins. Details of underbrush and black tea give depth to the structured finish. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Kosher. From Israel.—G.S.

COVENANT

Red C Sonoma County 2017

Score: 90 | $44

WS Review: Handsomely structured and refined, with a tight beam of currant and black cherry flavors that are laced with cardamom, clove and other spices. Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. Kosher. From California.—Tim Fish

RECANATI

Special Reserve Galilee 2017

Score: 90 | $60

WS Review: A generous and sinewy red with a firm structure enveloping the black currant, dark olive and bay leaf flavors that are decked out with anise, graphite and black tea details. Smoke and savory spice notes linger on the finish. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Carignan and Marselan. Kosher. From Israel.—G.S.

GUSH ETZION

Spring River GSM Judean Hills 2017

Score: 89 | $30

WS Review: Juicy raspberry and black cherry fruit is fresh and mocha-tinged in this plump red with savory spice, graphite and black tea notes that round out the plush finish. Good energy and harmony of flavors. Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. Kosher. From Israel.—G.S.

RECANATI

Petite Sirah Galilee Reserve 2018

Score: 89 | $32

WS Review: This red shows nice concentration, with ripe boysenberry, mocha and blackberry flavors that are edged with floral, savory spice and briary details. Chewy tannins. Kosher. From Israel.—G.S.

GALIL MOUNTAIN

Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee 2018

Score: 88 | $18

WS Review: The cherry and blackberry notes of this red offer a nice purity, cast with anise and floral details. Moderate tannins come through on the clean finish. Kosher. From Israel.—G.S.

GOLAN HEIGHTS WINERY

Cabernet Sauvignon Galilee Gilgal 2017

Score: 88 | $18

WS Review: A broad, layered red, delivering currant, Kalamata olive and mocha notes interlaced with anise, sweet spice and floral details. Herb accents sail along the tannic finish. Kosher. From Israel.—G.S.

GOLAN HEIGHTS WINERY

Merlot Galilee Yarden 2017

Score: 88 | $31

WS Review: Well-spiced notes of cherry tart and pureed raspberry are backed by anise details in this broad red. Elements of cedar, baking spice and dried herb come together on the finish. Kosher. From Israel.—G.S.

HAGAFEN

Pinot Noir Coombsville Montington Vineyards 2019

Score: 88 | $42

WS Review: Lively, with crisp spiciness to the red plum, cherry tart and dried sage flavors. Savory in the midpalate, with hints of blood orange on the finish. Kosher. From California.—Kim Marcus

SHILOH

Petit Verdot Judean Hills Secret Reserve 2017

Score: 88 | $45

WS Review: A brooding red, with compact blackberry and currant flavors flanked with ganache, graphite and pepper details, all encased in plush tannins. Focused and powerful. Kosher. From Israel.—G.S.

DOMAINE DES EDMOND DE ROTHSCHILD

Montagne-St.-Emilion Les Lauriers 2017

Score: 86 | $25

WS Review: Open-knit, with savory laced cherry and red currant fruit flavors backed by a light cedary edge on the finish. Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Kosher. From France.—James Molesworth

Top Kosher White and Rosé Wines

Note: The following list is a selection of outstanding and very good wines from recently rated releases. More kosher options can be found in our Wine Ratings Search.

FLAM

Camellia Judean Hills 2019

Score: 89 | $45

WS Review: Nicely spiced and backed by a lively acidity, this offers apple and white peach flavors that are fresh and juicy. Rich accents of vanilla and floral mingle through the toasty finish. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Kosher. From Israel.—G.S.

COVENANT

Roussanne Lodi Mensch 2019

Score: 88 | $20

WS Review: Roasted peach, dried apricot and melon flavors are bold. Notes of chamomile and almond skin on the finish, with firm acidity. Kosher. From California.—MaryAnn Worobiec

GOLAN HEIGHTS WINERY

Pinot Gris Galilee Yarden 2018

Score: 88 | $23

WS Review: A creamy white with floral-tinged notes of pear and white peach that are lightly spiced and bound by refreshing acidity. Kosher. From Israel.—G.S.

SEGAL

Chardonnay Galilee Wild Fermentation 2019

Score: 87 | $25

WS Review: Pear blossom and peach notes are bound by a tangy acidity that highlights the tangerine, spice and herb details in this fresh, light-to-medium-bodied white. Kosher. From Israel.—G.S.

DOMAINE NETOFA

Latour White Galilee 2018

Score: 86 | $30

WS Review: Aromatic, with fresh floral notes lining the peach and quince flavors that are matched with spice and mineral details on the finish. Chenin Blanc. Kosher. From Israel.—G.S.

RECANATI

Galilee Gris de Marselan 2019

Score: 86 | $25

WS Review: White strawberry and raspberry notes are matched with wet stone, white pepper and orange rind details in this crisp rosé, with a clean, lingering finish. Kosher. From Israel.—G.S.

RECANATI

Sauvignon Blanc Galilee 2019

Score: 86 | $15

WS Review: Grapefruit and tangerine flavors are marked with wet stone, herb and white pepper details in this medium-bodied white. Kosher. From Israel.—G.S.

RECANATI

Yasmin White Galilee 2019

Score: 85 | $12

WS Review: Herb and fennel notes mark the citrus and peach flavors of this crisp white, with spice accents detailing the finish. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Kosher. From Israel.—G.S.