Pretty much the most delicious part of any Passover table is charoset, the sweet, fragrant paste that is supposed to remind us of the mortar used by our enslaved ancestors in Egypt. Traditionally, it's a combination of raw fruits and nuts, chopped or ground together and spiked with cinnamon, honey, sweet wine and lemon. You can vary the combinations with endlessly delightful results: pear/apricot/pistachio; apple/date/almond; fig/chestnut/pomegranate.... People have been making this stuff delicious for a couple thousand years, and I don't have much to add. Except for cheese. Mexican cheese, to be exact.

Details after the jump!

Queso blanco is a mild, semi-firm cow cheese with a pleasant, briny flavor and a dry, squeaky texture that turns to magic when you give it a quick sear. Last year, as my sisters and I planned a vegetarian Passover Feast/Birthday Spectacular for our brother Shiloh, it occurred to me that a hot, salty slab of queso blanco is the perfect, decadent way to elevate charoset to the main course, star of the show spot it really deserves. Not to brag or anything, but it really was a flash of genius. This is special enough for the most important meal of the year, and easy enough to whip up for dinner any night of the week. I'd also endorse it as brunch, or for a starter try bite-sized portions atop spicy mixed greens or matzoh crackers....

Here's how to make the magic happen:

I imagine pretty much any charoset recipe will do. This time I kept it simple:

Chop 3 very large apples into matchsticks -- I used Braeburn, Jazz and Granny Smith
Douse them with the juice and zest of one or two lemons
Toss in ~1/2 cup dried currants
Grate 1/2 inch fresh ginger on top
Drizzle with honey to taste
Dust with pumpkin pie spice (mine has star anise, cardamon and black pepper, in addition to the usual suspects)

Toast about a cup of roughly chopped pecans, and set them aside to mix in just before serving.

It can sit like this for a couple hours, and I imagine a couple days, though we never seem to have leftovers of the stuff...

Just before you're ready to eat, heat a large non-stick skillet or a well-seasoned cast iron griddle. While it's warming up, cut  queso into 1/2-inch thick slices. On medium high heat, quickly brown the cheese on both sides -- you shouldn't need any oil, but keep a close eye on it to make sure it's not sticking. Serve the hot cheese with a big pile of charoset. You can thank me later.

P.S. More awesome Passover recipes here, here and here!