Those of you who celebrate Passover know that the holiday has its benefits (matzo ball soup!) and drawbacks (how long has this seder been dragging on??). On the plus side for me is definitely charoset – this sweet apple and walnut mixture comes near the end of the seder, and marks the beginning of the yummy dinner portion. It must have some magic powers, because it even manages to make the plain matzo taste good! This year I was in charge of making the charoset for a seder at my mom’s house. I immediately went to this recipe which I’ve made in the past with much success before I realized that 1) wine as an uncooked ingredient probably wasn’t the best idea for the 3 kids under 6 at the table, and 2) my niece is allergic to nuts and therefore it was potentially dangerous to have walnuts floating around! That led me to do a little searching, and I found this recipe for nut-free charoset, basically using pumpkin seeds as a substitute for the walnuts. I thought that was a good idea, but then I heard a rumor that my brother really likes sunflower seeds, so I decided their nutty taste would work well, too! I also still liked the proportions from my original epicurious recipe, so the result was a combination of a few ideas along with some improv.
FYI, the recipe as written below makes a TON of charoset – we used it for a seder for 12, another seder for 6, and still had a lot left over. Feel free to half or quarter recipe as needed. For those of you who don’t celebrate Passover and/or have never had charoset, there is no reason why you couldn’t make this as a snack for you or your kids any time – I know I have been enjoying the leftovers all week!
Charoset (kid friendly and nut free)
7 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
1 cup roasted unsalted sunflower seeds*
1 cup grape juice (or sweet Passover wine if you’re not serving to kids, e.g., Manishewitz Extra Heavy Malaga)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Place apples in food processor and pulse until chopped to your liking (you could chop by hand to get a more consistent texture, but I don’t think it’s necessary or worth the extra time!). Dump into a large bowl, wipe out food processor, and add sunflower seeds. Pulse just to chop a little bit (some whole seeds is fine) and add to apples. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust any of the ingredients as you see fit. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to a few days. Charoset will taste better as it sits, so feel free to make ahead and plan for leftovers!
*I would use more next time; I went light because I was unsure how it would taste but would probably use closer to 1 1/2 cups