Did you know there’s a custom of not eating roasted meat at the Passover seder? This dates back to Talmudic times (Mishna Pesachim 4:4), when the korban Pesach, or paschal lamb, was roasted as a sacrifice in the Temple (Exodus 12:8)—eating roasted meat gives the appearance of eating the sacrifice, which cannot be properly offered during these times. As a result, all beef and chicken recipes that are prepared for the seder are traditionally braised in liquid.

This braised recipe was inspired by charoset, the sweet relish served at the seder to resemble the mortar the Jews used to make bricks during their enslavement in Egypt. Growing up, my dad would prepare the charoset simply with diced apple, chopped walnuts and red wine. I was later introduced to the Sephardic version, prepared with dates, nuts and cinnamon. This recipe marries both variations, with a fresh and bright walnut gremolata to cut through the richness of the meat.

Charoset Roast With Walnut Gremolata

Makes 8 servings


  • For the roast:
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 pounds braising roast (Note: I used the Delmonico roast, which is the eye of the chuck closest to the rib—it’s a very tender cut that slices beautifully. You can also use a French roast, square roast, California roast or minute roast.)
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 Spanish onion, sliced into half rings
  • 8 cloves garlic, halved
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • ½ cup beef or chicken stock
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 sprigs thyme
  • 2 firm apples, peeled and cut into eighths (such as Fuji or Honeycrisp)
  • 6 pitted medjool dates, halved
  • For the walnut gremolata:
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a six-quart Dutch oven or oven-safe pot. Season the roast generously with salt and pepper and sear on all sides. Remove from the pot and set aside.
  3. Add the onions to the pot and sauté until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional 2 minutes. Add the red wine and stock and bring the mixture to a simmer, scraping up the bits from the bottom of the pot.
  4. Return the meat to the pot. Add the cinnamon stick, bay leaves and thyme. Cover and place in the oven. Cook for 1 hour, then turn the roast over and cook for an additional 90 minutes.
  5. Remove the roast from the oven and add the apples and dates. Season with additional salt and pepper. Cover the roast, return to the oven and cook until the apples are tender but still hold their shape, about 15-20 minutes.
  6. Allow the roast to cool before slicing, and reheat in the sauce if needed.
  7. For the gremolata, toast the walnuts in the oven at 350 degrees for 5-7 minutes. Cool completely. Mix toasted walnuts with parsley, lemon zest, salt and pepper.
  8. To serve, spread the meat out on a platter along with the apples and dates. Garnish with the walnut gremolata.