Sweet-and-Sour Seder Carrots

Sweet-and-Sour Seder Carrots

Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, is an eight-day (seven in Israel) holiday that celebrates freedom, by retelling the story of the ancient Israelites’ liberation from Egypt. Special symbolic foods are arranged on the seder table, and we read out loud the haggadah, a book that tells the story of the exodus. One of the main goals of having a seder is teaching children about the exodus, encouraging questions from them in the hope that they will learn to appreciate (and fight for – my father would add) the gift of freedom. It’s not that hard to keep kids interested and involved, as this is one of the rare occasions when they are allowed to stay up REALLY late at night, which in itself feels like a big deal to the young ones. However, if a family seder with a couple of cousins can be fun, a whole community seder with a couple of hundred people and a bunch of kids of different ages can be a total blast, and if you ever visit Venice for Passover and make sure to reserve a spot on time, you will be able to witness just that (you may want to bring ear plugs). The tradition of the public seder in the social hall in Venice goes back to 1891, making it the oldest in Italy. Apparently, it was nothing short of revolutionary, for a traditional community with an orthodox rabbi to have a public seder (which is generally more of a reform tradition, unless one is at a vacation resort). However, the Venetian mutual aid society “Cuore e Concordia” (heart and concord), which initially created the seder only for children and the poor or people left without a family,  later realized that, with the increasing level of assimilation, there were many families that lacked a person capable of leading a traditional seder and reading from the Haggadah in Hebrew, and opened the event to the whole community.


Fast-forward more than 120 years, and every Passover, about 200 people (half of the Jews of Venice… plus some tourists, of course) celebrate with a degree of energy and joy that are rarely seen in a smaller context, culminating in the children’s loud singing of “Capretto” (Little Goat), the local version of the famous Passover song “Had Gadya“. One of the consequences of having a large public meal every year is that the traditional menu for the whole community has become crystallized, and changing any item would feel like converting to a different religion. In particular, we are all very attached to the vegetable sides: artichokes, of course; stewed fennel; and this sweet-and-sour carrot stew, which will remind some of you of Tzimmes, but it’s much less sweet. Make sure you use the best organic carrots you can find, and to cook them until they are quite soft: they are supposed to be stewed, and not sautéed.


Sweet-and-Sour Seder Carrots


  • 2 lb carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup raisins, plumped in hot water
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 4-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or a mix of olive oil and schmalz, for the tastier classic version!)
  • 2-4 tbsp white wine vinegar, or to taste
  • salt and pepper
  • water


Place the oil (or oil and chicken fat) in a pot or skillet with the sliced carrots, and drizzle with about 1/2 cup water.Add salt, and cook on low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, for about 10-15 minutes. Add the raisins and pine nuts and some black pepper, and cook uncovered, over high hear, for 2 to 5 minutes longer or until desired tenderness (the carrots should be soft). When they are almost done, add the vinegar and cook for one more minute or until it's absorbed.


More Vegetable Side Ideas for your Passover Seder (or any time!) from some of my favorite blogs:

Tori’s Stovetop Tzimmes

Levana’s Artichokes and Carrots

Sarah’s Passover Dumplings

Jasmine & Manuel’s Fennel & Cauliflower Soup


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  1. Love the recipe, but you had me at Sedar in Venice – that must be incredible! Next year in Venice…

  2. We were in Venice once for Passover and had a seder with the local Chabad. We had no idea that the local Jewish community also organized one! We had a lovely time, but everybody was a tourist and the food was also not Italian. It would have been so much more interesting to see how the italians celebrate and to taste the traditional food!

  3. I love this recipe! In my family, we make a similar carrot stew, using onions and without the addition of raisins or pine nuts. I think I will upgrade to your version! I also really loved your description of the seder in Venice, it must be amazing. We always celebrate holidays at home, but one year our church organized a community lunch for easter, and the kids are still talking about it. I have to admit that it was also such a relief for me, to help with a potluck as opposed to cooking a six-course meal….

    • Hi Jo Ann, you are so right! If possible, Passover is even more exhausting than other holidays, because during the week/s that precedes it we go on a spring-cleaning spree. Potlucks are great!

  4. Lovely! I am always looking for new ways with carrots because everyone in my family loves them. These look perfect. Love pignolis and raisins and I use them a lot in my recipes.

  5. Susan Benesch says:

    Looking forward to making this delicacy. Always looking for a new way to serve carrors. The Seder in Venice sounds so very delightful.

    • Thanks Susan: let me know how it go! We also make spinaci with pine nuts & raisins (but no vinegar!). Happy Passover

      • Susan Benesch says:

        My husband has very brittle diabetes so everything I cook has to have little or no fat and little or no sugars. As you can imagine, I only have time to cook one way. I do alter many recipes. After all of these years, it is easy for me to do. Last week, I altered your ricotta cheesecake and it met rave reviews from us. Am looking forward to trying your passover recipes. Always like to prepare something different. Happy Passover to all.

        • Well, Susan, now I am too curious to see your (sugar-free) version of my ricotta cheesecake! My mother-in-law is also diabetic and I could make it for her… please do share!

          • Susan Benesch says:

            I was in a hurryu so I made no crust. I also used low fat ricotta and cut the sugar in half. My ricotta container had 2 pounds of ricotta in it. I used 1 egg, and added lemon rind, a touch of lemon, 1 tablespoon of rum and used a pint of blueberries on the top. Mix all ingredients together with an electric mixer. Bec. I used 2 pounds of ricotta, I baked the cheesecake in a heart shaped bundt pan. Absolutely delicious and so very easy to make. I baked the cheese cake in a convection oven at 325 degrees F. for about 40 minutes.. I did not have cherries left so substituted blueberries.. We had been feasting on cherries which I had also frozen every Shabbos through out this snowy winter. The blueberries I had frozen when they were in season. We will have blueberries for Passover too bec. I bought 3 cases of them and froze them.

          • Susan Benesch says:

            Ophs, Fatigue had me leave out sweetener. I used the 2 pounds of low fat ricotta, 1 egg, 1 tbsp rum, zest from 1 lemon, juice from 1/2 lemon, 1/4 cup of Splenda(we do not like things to be too sweet) and 1 pint of blueberries. I baked it for 40 -45 minutes in convection oven. Also I used a bundt pan, which was greased. Hope that this sounds okay to you. My husband says that next time I make it he will figure out the proportions for your mother-in-law. Enjoy your stay in Venice with your family. My pleasure to share. If I find Passover ricotta cheese, I may make this for Passover too. Otherwise, for Passover, I make a cheese cake using farmers cheese and yogurt and coccoa. My husband adores chocolate.

          • Susan Benesch says:

            My husband says to use between 1/4 & 1/2 cup of Splenda. This depends on how sweet your mother-in-law likes things.

    • you are going to love them!

  6. le voci dei bambini mettono sempre allegria, anche quando fanno chiasso! Ora che i miei nipoti sono adolescenti parlano troppo poco e mi mancano quelle serate allegre di una volta…. come sempre molto belle le tue descrizioni di Venezia e della sua vita ebraica, e questa ricetta mi piace, sfizioso l’agrodolce ma non troppo… dolce.

  7. Lots of stewed vegetables in the Veneto, right? I think I had green beans made that way too (without the raisins, just slow-cooked until tender).

  8. This sounds amazing and I like that its more savory than tzimmes which I find to be too sweet. The public seder sounds like quite an experience!

  9. Yum. I love that carrot photo too.

  10. WOW, I have always wanted to go to Venice!

  11. love this recipe! looks great and I love the pine nuts in this!

  12. I’m definitely making this next week. I love the story and tradition behind it! I think someday I’ll have to return to Venice during Pesach as it sounds like such a magical experience.

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