Passover, which starts Friday with the first Seder, commemorates the exodus of the Israelites from ancient Egypt. The holiday celebrates their freedom from slavery. You’ve got Moses, the parting of the Red Sea, the Ten Commandments and a triumphant return to Canaan — I’m sure you’ve seen the movie.

The holiday is full of symbolism, especially through the food. Boiled eggs signifying springtime and renewal, and the salt water in which you dip them mimics the tears and sweat of enslavement. But there are also many delicious dishes to be had!

Here’s a menu for a speedy Passover, for all those times when you have a dozen Jewish friends unexpectedly drop in for dinner during the eight days of Passover.

Starters

Charoset

Amy Rosen’s Charoset
Charoset and matzo are your go-to nibbles to kick off Passover. This is an easy recipe to start your feast.

Chicken Soup
You can pretty much guarantee that Ina Garten routinely makes this soup for her adoring husband Jeffrey, complete with fluffy matzo balls. And it’s as classic a version as it gets — schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) included.

Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup with Ground Chicken Meatballs
I love Chuck Hughes’ version with chicken meatballs. Just substitute matzo meal for the breadcrumbs in the balls.

Bobby Flay's Matzo Ball Soup

Matzo Ball Soup
Bobby Flay’s version looks good too, and of course there’s jalapeño in it for a kick of heat.

Fish course

Poached Salmon

Traditional Poached Salmon
Normally this would be gefilte fish, which these days most people buy in a jar and side with horseradish. But Judaism’s dirty little secret is that not everyone likes the stuff — its longevity mostly based on nostalgia. So update your fish course with a fresh and easy dish, like this simply poached salmon, served on a bed of dressed greens.

Homemade Lox
If you’ve somehow planned ahead and have a homemade side of lox curing in the refrigerator, that would be an instant fix; thin slices tossed with some arugula and lemony vinaigrette.

Main course

Caplansky Family Brisket

Caplansky’s Family Brisket
Everyone is going to expect a brisket for dinner, but not this time. Brisket is traditional and delicious, but one thing it isn’t is fast. This recipe is for next time.

Garlic and Citrus Chicken 
For now, here’s a luscious roasted chicken by Giada De Laurentiis, full of lemon, orange and garlic flavours, juicy meat and a crisp skin.

Sides

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes 
Crispy roasted potatoes with lots of rosemary, pepper and salt. Yes, please. (Thanks, Ina!)

Roasted Asparagus
Roasted asparagus is the best asparagus. It’s also a perfect first taste of springtime.

Pan-Fried Zucchini with Toasted Pistachios
This quick dish of zucchini and pistachios is a delicious nod to the Middle East.

Dessert

Passion Fruit Pavlova

Classic Passion Fruit Pavlova
Traditional desserts are out of the question during Passover as you can’t have anything that uses a leavening agent, like baking powder and baking soda, which is why whipped egg whites are where recipes go for lift. Try this classic pavlova with zingy passion fruit.

Passover Brownies

Passover Brownies
If you’re craving chocolate, these easy brownies will get the job done.

Looking for more delicious Passover ideas? Try our 26 New and Classic Passover Recipes.