Delicious Family Recipes for Easter and Passover

Enjoy the holiday weekend with these delicious and festive holiday recipes., the ultimate resource and premier social website for today’s grandparents, knows the importance of keeping families connected through traditions.  With many family traditions starting in the kitchen, shares a few quick and easy recipes you can make for your loved ones this Easter and Passover. 

Whether you’ve whipped up many family favorites over the years, or are looking forward to starting a tradition today, these holiday favorites are sure to spread the joy.


Easter Calzone (Scalcione di Cipolle)

Filled with briny olives and zippy scallions, this authentic Italian calzone comes from Cooking with Nonna, an online series featuring real Italian grandmas sharing their most beloved recipes. This is a twist on a traditional calzone, which is essentially pizza folded into a turnover, and packed with a variety of fillings. They’re best served straight from the oven, though be sure to let the insides cool just a little.


For the filling:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 bunches scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
1 cup chopped Kalamata or Gaeta olives
Red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped anchovy fillets

For the dough:
1 pound all-purpose flour
1 cup lukewarm white wine
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing
Pinch salt

1. In a large pot, heat 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add scallions, wine, tomatoes, olives, and hot pepper and salt, to taste. Saute for about 15 minutes. Remove from stove, drain, and cool completely. Set aside.

2. To make the dough, combine flour, wine, 1/4 cup olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Knead together until a dough is formed.

3. Cut the dough in half. Flatten one half into a thin, round sheet large enough to cover the bottom of a 16-inch baking pan. Apply a very thin film of olive oil to the pan. Position the dough in the pan and spread the scallion mixture uniformly on top, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Spread the anchovies over the scallions.

3. Take the other half of the dough and flatten it with the rolling pin into a round sheet that you will use to cover the scallions. Place the dough over the scallions, cutting off any excess around the edges. With a fork, seal the two sheets of dough together.

4. With your fingers, apply a thin film of olive oil over the entire surface of the scalcione. Then, with a fork, puncture the surface every 2 inches. Bake for 60 minutes at 400 degrees F.

Serves 8

Easter Bread (Gurrugulo)

From Cooking with Nonna, the Web series starring Italian grandmas who pass on their family’s most treasured recipes, comes this colorful, sweet, braided bread that is a European Easter tradition. Don’t worry about adding raw whole eggs: They cook completely while the bread bakes, and make for an excellent presentation.

1 pound (slightly more than 3 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
9 large eggs, divided
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 lemon, zested
Colored sprinkles

1. In a large bowl, combine flour, 4 eggs, sugar, olive oil, baking powder, and lemon zest. Mix until it becomes a dough.

2. Cut the mix into four equal parts (one for each Gurrugulo). Reserve two thin 6-inch strips for each Gurrugulo. Take one part, divide it again into three equal parts and roll each part into a strip about 1/2 inch thick.

3. Take the three strips, unite them at one end, and slowly and carefully braid them until the very end. Unite the two ends.  Where the ends meet, place an egg. Roll the two thin strips of the mix and place them over the egg in a cross fashion. The strips will hold the egg down. During the braiding process, if the strips are too soft or too sticky, add some flour to facilitate the process. Repeat this process with the remaining dough, until four Gurrugulo are made.

4. Beat the remaining egg and, with your finger, wet the entire surface of each Gurrugulo with the beaten egg. Add sprinkles and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees F.

Makes 4 Gurrugulos

Easter Wheat Pie (Pastiera Napoletana di Grano)

Sometimes called Easter Grain Pie, this Italian dish is a holiday tradition, especially in the southern part of the country. The wheat-based crust is symbolic of springtime, and is filled with a sweet ricotta before it’s baked. From the online series Cooking With Nonna, this version includes small pieces of candied fruit, sure to appeal to kids.

For the Filling:
1/2 pound wheat berries or hulled wheat (from soft wheat)
8 large eggs, separated
3 pounds ricotta cheese
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
Candied fruit pieces (optional)

For the Pastry Dough:
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
6 large eggs
Pinch salt
1 lemon, zested
5 tablespoons vegetable shortening

To prepare wheat for the filling:
Rinse hulled wheat with water and place in a large bowl. Add enough cold water to cover and let soak overnight in the refrigerator. Drain the wheat and place in a saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 to 30 minutes, until tender. Cool completely for use in the recipe.

1. In a large bowl, beat 8 egg yolks. (Set egg whites aside in a separate bowl for later.) Add ricotta, wheat, and sugar. Mix until well incorporated. Add vanilla and candied fruit pieces and mix well. Beat egg whites until fluffy and foamy and fold into ricotta mixture.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, 6 eggs, pinch of salt, and lemon zest. Knead until a dough is formed.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease baking pans with shortening and set aside. Cut a piece of the dough, according to the size of the pan, and roll it out with a rolling pin. The dough should not be too thick. Lay dough into the greased baking pan. Fill the pan with the ricotta mixture.

4. For the top crust, cut another smaller piece of dough and roll very thin. Cut this into strips and place across top of pie, in a criss-cross pattern. Press the dough edges together with a fork, like a pie.

5. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Serves 6


Homemade Passover Noodles

This is a unique recipe passed down through generations and is rarely made by modern kosher cooks. Store-bought noodles do not hold a candle to the homemade noodles’ taste and texture. Sally Levine says the recipe connects her to her ancestry: Her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother all made these noodles from slices of potato-starch crepes.

The dish calls for two “bubby cups” of potato starch, meaning a full, rounded cup. Levine makes the dish on “regular” nights, too, filling the cups with cooked chicken left over from a big pot of traditional chicken soup. Share the noodle “ends” with the grandkids as Levine does with hers.
10 eggs
1 full, rounded “bubby cup” of potato starch
1 teaspoon of salt
2 full cups cold water
Vegetable oil for frying

1. In a large shallow bowl, whisk together first 4 ingredients.

2. Heat 1/2 teaspoon of oil in a 9 inch frying pan over medium-high heat. Using a half measure of a 4-ounce soup ladle per crepe, pour the mixture into the frying pan, using the handle to angle the pan’s base so that the entire batter covers the frying surface.

3. When the crepe starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, lift it up slowly with a spatula and flip it. Do not overbrown. These fry up quickly, so keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

4. Transfer cooked crepe to a plate.

5. Remix the batter well prior to pouring each crêpe, as the starch tends to settle at the bottom of the mixture. Before pouring the batter for each crêpe add 1/2 teaspoon of oil to the pan. Reheat the pan and repeat cooking process.

6. Stack the crepes on the plate as they are cooked.

7. Refrigerate overnight if using the crepes as noodles. When ready to serve, take 2 or 3 noodles at a time, roll them up tightly like a cigar, cut them into one-inch-wide segments, and add them to a pot of your favorite chicken broth. Don’t forget to give the ends of the noodles to your little ones to eat! If serving as filled crepes, serve at room temperature.

Yield: Makes about 22 crepes.

Matzo Brei

From our feature Sharing the Seder: What would Passover be without matzoh brei for breakfast? Adapted from The Children’s Jewish Holiday Kitchen by Joan Nathan (Schocken, 2000).

3 matzos
2 large eggs
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) margarine

Measuring spoons
Mixing bowl
Paper towels
Fork or wire whisk
Frying pan
Metal spatula

1. Lil’ Line Cook or Sous chef-in-training: Break up the matzo and put in lukewarm water for a few minutes. Drain on paper towels and squeeze dry.

2. Beat the eggs. Mix them well with the salt, honey, cinnamon, and the matzo.

3. Sous-chef-in-training or adult helper: Heat the margarine in the frying pan. Fry 2 tablespoons of batter at a time, patting the center down a bit. Turn over and fry until golden. Eat as is, or with additional honey.

Pecan Cookies
From our feature A Well-Rounded Table: This recipe, from Inez Schwartz, is adapted from Cooking Jewish: 532 Great Recipes From the Rabinowitz Family by Judy Bart Kancigor (Workman, 2007). Kancigor writes, “Hard to believe that with no added fat, these crisp cookies from cousin Marilyn’s sister-in-law taste so buttery, like butterscotch crisp.”

Parchment paper or vegetable cooking spray, for the baking sheet
2 cups pecans, plus about 3 dozen pecan halves for topping the cookies
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
White of 1 large egg
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or generously grease it.

2. Combine the 2 cups pecans and 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar in a food processor, and process until the nuts are finely chopped.

3. Combine the chopped pecans, remaining brown sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add the egg white (unbeaten) and lemon juice, and stir until thoroughly combined. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of the mixture, about 1 1/2 inches apart, on the prepared baking sheet. Press a pecan half into each cookie.

4. Bake on the center oven rack until the cookies are golden brown, 8 to 11 minutes. Watch the bottoms, as they burn easily. Let the cookies cool on a baking sheet set on a wire rack until they can be safely moved, 1 to 2 minutes. Then transfer them to the rack to cool completely.

5. Repeat, baking and cooling the remaining cookies, and serve.

Yield: Makes about 3 dozen cookies.