Finally, springtime is here! While Easter and Passover are different, and those who celebrate both have incredibly diverse traditions—both holidays usher in spring and celebrate hope and the sanctity of life. For generations, the olive tree and olive oil have played a central part in spring celebrations. The olive tree flourishes throughout Judaism, Islam and Christianity as a symbol of peace and prosperity. Olive oil represents renewal and abundance. And it’s an essential, tasty part of these springtime festivities.
For people of the Greek Orthodox faith, olive oil is restricted during the season leading up to Easter. During Holy Week, called Megali Evdomada (Big Week) in Greece, olive oil is not allowed to be consumed at all—a huge sacrifice for a country where each person enjoys an average of 26 liters of olive oil a year (by comparison, Americans consume about 1.1 liters annually).
The Lenten Fast is broken after the midnight Easter service. Easter is perhaps the greatest time for foods, feasting and celebration, which includes an abundance of olive oil. Greek Orthodox Easter doesn’t often fall on the same day Roman Catholic and Protestant Easter, but whatever day you’re celebrating, it’s always a great idea to serve Mediterranean-inspired delicacies, which usually begin and end with copious, highest quality olive oil—Gaea! Here are some tips:
- Bake Tsoureki, fluffy, addictive Greek Easter Sweet Bread, with olive oil and scented with orange and vanilla. We love this recipe. Where it calls for olive oil, use Sitia D.O.P.—the aromatic, medium bodied flavor will complement the subtly sweet loaf.
- Make marbleized Easter eggs. They’re gorgeous and plenty of fun to make. And olive oil is your secret weapon here.
- Roasted veggies are a welcome addition to any Easter table. These roasted red peppers are a delicious, colorful menu addition, especially with the bright flavors of Gaea Fresh, where approximately 2,300 early harvest Koroneiki variety olives are pressed into each bottle.
- Roasted lamb makes a stunning centerpiece for your Easter feast. For tons of savory flavor, rub a lamb roast with lemon, oregano, salt and pepper, place garlic cloves around the roast, and drizzle with a generous pour of Kalamata D.O.P. olive oil. The fresh, green Koroneiki olives deliver a unique pepper and almond flavor that’s a great foil to lamb.
There are lots of rules—some passionately contested—on what is and what is not allowed on Passover. When it comes to olive oil though, it’s easy: all extra-virgin olive oils are kosher for Passover. Hooray!
Rabbis have long identified with the olive tree as a symbol of Israel or of the Jewish people. Fun fact: the Seder meal may have evolved from the Greek Symposium. Regardless, great olive oil is also a staple in any Seder feast.
- Make super fluffy matzo balls with the help of olive oil. This simple recipe does the trick beautifully.
- Tzimmes, a sweet stew of veggies and fruits, is a favorite dish for Passover. This version features carrots, cardamom and oranges. It’s perfect with harmonious and elegant Vranas Estate olive oil.
- Your guests will love you when you make this classic, rich braised brisket. Forget the veggie oil and use fruity, aromatic, medium bodied Sitia Roots Extra-Virgin Olive Oil instead for extra flavor.
- This decadent Amaretto Olive Oil Cake is so good you’d never know it’s kosher for Passover. The balanced flavor and pungent spice of Krista Estate olive oil pairs gorgeously with boozy Amaretto.