Vegan Seder by by Jill Richardson

The following guest article is written by Jill Richardson, author of Persistent Vegetarian State. Long live the Vegan Seder goodness, and tomorrow I’ll get back to posting since my Viral Menengitis is dying down enough for me to be out of bed. I am thankful for her writing this up for Renegade Kosher, and I hope it assists folks out there. Shalom and Good Cooking!

Growing up, my mom always said “Passover isn’t a good food holiday.” I remember some horrible desserts (those gummy candies that look like citrus slices, anyone?) but it was never really that difficult until college. All of my dorm food staples got ripped away from me at Passover – bagels, pasta, oatmeal, you know the drill.

I survived college, but this year brings a new twist: this passover will be my first one as a vegetarian. Once you start piling food restrictions on top of food restrictions, your choices slim down significantly. Finding enough foods to complete a nutritious, festive meal that is both vegetarian and K4P sounds like a challenge. Vegan and K4P sounds like a nightmare.

But there’s no point in taking a defeatist attitude. It’s a holiday – a time to celebrate! On Pesach we celebrate our new lease on life when our ancestors fled Egypt – a springtime in the history of the Jewish people, if you will. With this in mind, I crafted a menu around spring vegetables, blending tradition with fresh ideas.

I steered clear of tofu and fake meats, in case you are dining with non-veg friends and family who would wrinkle their nose. Sharing the recipes below with your family may just be the key to proving that it is possible to survive on a plant-based diet – even on Passover.

Appetizers

Start with charoset, served with matzoh. I am partial to my family’s traditional charoset recipe, but if you are entertaining a large party, I recommend asking several guests to bring charoset from a different country. You can find several recipes here. A spread of international charosets encourages a feeling of unity with Jews around the world.

For a second appetizer, serve baba ganoush with matzoh and cut vegetables. To take a shortcut, buy some from the store and serve it with a splash of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika on top. Just read the ingredients to make sure they didn’t sneak any non-K4P ingredients in there. You can make your own, but be aware that baba ghanoush can be hit or miss when you make your own. If you have a tried-and-true recipe that worked before, great. Blend eggplant, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, salt, pine nuts, and olive oil to a desired consistency. Garnish with parsley and paprika.

An alternative to baba ghanoush is m’hamara, a blended Middle Eastern red pepper dip named with roasted red peppers, walnuts, and breadcrumbs (use matzoh, obviously). I think it is prettier and tastier than baba ghanoush, but most recipes call for pomegranate molasses. It is available at Middle Eastern specialty stores, but if you are not near one it may be tricky to find it or to find a recipe that does not call for it.

Soup

Passover isn’t Passover without matzoh ball soup. I defer to my favorite Jewish vegan chef, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, for a terrific vegan matzoh ball recipe. She recommends Mori-nu tofu as an egg replacer, but I am a little wary. I think Mori-nu has a funny flavor.

Isa also includes a recipe for homemade vegetable broth – but if you aren’t quite Martha Stewart in the kitchen, you can use the store-bought variety. For a special occasion like Passover, I think the homemade version is worth the time and effort it takes. In addition to matzoh balls and broth, any proper matzoh ball soup includes celery and carrots.

Salad

A salad is a nice way to incorporate some elements of the seder plate into your meal. Combine mixed baby greens with sprouts, fresh herbs (including parsley), hard boiled eggs (if you eat them), and tomatoes. Serve with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar or another K4P vinaigrette as a dressing.

If you are entertaining a large party, you may wish to have other salads, such as a fruit salad or (if you eat beans during Passover) a cold bean salad.

Main Dishes

At a minimum, a balanced veg*n meal contains a green vegetable, an orange vegetable, and some form of protein. Lacto-ovo vegetarians can eat complete protein from dairy and eggs, but vegans must look to a combination of matzoh and nuts for their protein during Passover (unless you eat beans too).

My favorite green vegetables are Brussels sprouts and asparagus. I don’t like to put much effort into cooking them – they taste terrific oven-roasted and seasoned with salt and extra virgin olive oil. Additionally, if you are cooking for 12 people and trying to clean your house at the same time, an easy recipe like this one is a needed break.

For a traditional orange vegetable, make tsimmes.

Ingredients

  • 8 c. sweet potatoes, cooked, peeled, & cut into large chunks
  • 2.5 carrots, peeled & cut into chunks
  • 1 c. orange juice
  • 1/2 c. locally produced honey (vegans use agave nectar)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Dots of butter, Earth Balance, or vegetable oil

Put veggies in a 13x9x2 inch pan. Mix honey or agave nectar, OJ, cinnamon, and salt and pour over veggies. Dot with butter or Earth Balance. Bake at 350 F covered in foil for 30 minutes. Remove and stir. Return to oven for 20 min.

As noted before, some Jews eat beans during Passover, and some don’t. If you do not eat beans and you are a vegan, you will need to include enough nuts in your diet to provide a complete protein. The advantage of beans over nuts is that beans are low fat, whereas nuts are high fat. Nuts have the “good” fat, but still, you don’t want to leave Passover fatter than you started it. Clearly, whoever made the rules didn’t consult a vegan first.

You will already have matzoh during the seder – and even in the dessert – and walnuts in the charoset. If you wish to add more nuts into your meal, you can make a vegan nut cheez or you can add nuts to your other dishes (for example, add walnuts or pecans to the tsimmes).

If you are entertaining a large party, look for other simple, vegetable, fruit, or nut-based dishes to round out your meal. For example, lemon-thyme mushrooms is an easy, healthy dish. For a starch, search online for a vegan Passover potato kugel or knish recipe.

If you do eat beans during Passover, here is a Passover adaptation of one of my favorite high protein vegetarian dishes.

Ingredients

  • 2 c. crumbled matzoh
  • 1 can dried chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can dried black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 c water
  • 1 cube vegetable bouillon (for a vegan brand, try Rapunzel)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp cumin (to taste)
  • 1/3 c fresh lemon juice
  • 1 c fresh parsley, chopped
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)

Saute the onion, carrot, and garlic in the oil until onions are translucent. Then, rinse and drain the beans and chickpeas, and add them to the vegetables. Crumble in the matzoh and add cumin, cayenne, and lemon juice. Just before serving, mix in the parsley. Serves 6.

Dessert

What, the afikomen isn’t enough? Dessert is always tricky during Passover. My all-time favorite dessert is a trio of sorbets (lemon, raspberry, and mango) served with fresh berries and a sprig of fresh mint. Read the ingredients on the sorbet to ensure it does not contain corn syrup. If you cannot find any K4P sorbet, it is easy to make your own using online recipes. The basic ingredients are fruit, sugar, and lemon juice or a liqueur of some sort.

Another option is an apple-matzoh crisp.

Ingredients

  • 3 lb tart apples
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/3 c. matzoh meal
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. crumbled matzoh
  • 4 tbsp. butter or Earth Balance
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts or pecans

Peel, core and chop apples, toss in a bowl with lemon juice to prevent oxidation. In a separate bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg; stir into apples. Set aside.

In another bowl combine matzoh meal, sugar, and crumbled matzoh.

Cut butter or vegan margarine into 8 pieces, and cut butter into flour until mixture looks like crumbs. Stir in nuts. Grease a 10 X 10-inch baking dish. Spread apples in bottom of baking dish then sprinkle with matzoh mixture. Bake at 375 F for 30 to 45 minutes, or until apples are tender and topping is lightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.

If you like my recipes, you can find more at Persistent Vegetarian State. Chag Sameach!

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March 30, 2006. dessert, guest article, recipes, salad, seder, side dishes. 8 comments.

Just some thoughts…

I’ve been under WAY too much stress as of late getting ready to move… I ended up missing Purim. *cries* Ah, well… There’s always next year. I’m looking into trying to go back to temple regurally again, after the move. Where I live now, there’s no buses, so I’m effectively trapped in the middle of no where. No recipes today, just a sad lament, and a hope that G-d understands I ment no disrespect in not hearing the story of Ester in a temple. I’ve been looking into the Chabad of Downtown S. Diego as of late. I’ve always preferred more orthodox services, I’m not sure why. Yes, my -cooking- may be renegade by most standards, but I like my service traditional. Some things just shouldn’t be messed with, after all.

You know, the more I write this, the more I want to include some sort of recipe. Some tidbit on food or whatnot for my loyal readers. I did hear that PETA is claiming that the world’s largest glatt slaughterhouse is guilty of animal cruelty. They’re just pissed that the Jewish people slammed down hard on them after they tried to compare eating meat to being in the Holocaust, in my humble opinion. If these charges are true, I truely hope they’re fixed quick. If they are not, then PETA officially gets my one-finger salute before being told to sit and spin!

Also, McDonald’s in Isreal is going kosher. The kosher branches will be blue and white instead of the gaudy yellow and red they have now. This makes me ponder, as here in the USA, the only Kosher things at McDonald’s used to be their pickles and their Coke products. Mabye they might come to some Jewish neighborhoods in the USA and do the same? Anyhow, enough food talk for the night. Until next time, Shalom and Good Cooking!

March 14, 2006. News. 1 comment.

Steaks! Purim! Can it get any better?

First off, you can now reach the website thru http://www.renegadekosher.com/ for ease! I also now have a new e-mail address for food discussions & mailing lists! Also, I’m looking into KosherFest. I’m going to TRY to attend to give YOU, my readers, an in-depth look at the new kosher goodness coming out in 2007! Also, I’m working on a cookbook right now about the history & evolution of latkes. Basically everything you ever wanted to know about the tasty pancake, but were afraid to ask. On top of that, it’ll have over 100 different latke recipes, from classic potato to rather exotic differations.

Now, today is Steak and a BJ Day, and today is also Purim! I’m the happiest married jew in the world! *does a dance* Hava Nagilah! Hava Nagilah! My two favorite holidays! Together! This is better than Chrismukkah last year! So, in honor of the greatness, today we’re going to look at a nice dinner that is both traditional for Purim AND will fulfill S&BJ’s scared meaning…

Steak Over Black Beans

1 pound strip steaks, about 1/2 inch to an inch inch thick (Also known as the Kansas City Strip steak)
3 cups black beans
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup canned beef broth
1 onion, diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

In a large pan with high sides, heat the olive oil before adding the onion and garlic. Toss in the pan until cooked easily.

From here, slowly stir in the beans, beef broth, tomatoes, and the salk and pepper before letting it simmer for about 15-20 minutes.

As the beans cook, take the steak and lightly grill it. I use my George Foreman grill, myself, for this dish, but an open coals or a pan fry works well, as all. If you happen to want to use a dry rub, that’s fine. Me, for this, I may just use a dash of Wostershire Sauce, myself. Either way, you want to cook the steak to your personal tastes. Me, I go with medium well. (Remember, though, that ALL the blood must be cooked out to be kosher!)

When the steak is done, the beans should be done simmering, as well. Turn them off and take them off the heat to thicken.

As the beans thicken, take the steak and slice them on the short sides, slicing them into 1/4 inch filets.

From here, it’s really easy. In shallow bowls, fill them with the beans. Then, atop the beans, arrainge the steak filets. I usually do a small circle atop the beans of overlapping strips, myself. This dish yields 4 servings, usually.

Now, I hope this gets the creative juices flowing for you all tonight. I you prefer, you could allways just derve up a nice porterhouse with some dairy-free margarine and/or dairy-free sour cream and a side of green beans, as well. Now, I know some of you are asking, why the beans? Well, on Purim we’re supposed to eat bean dishes to remind us that This is meant to remind us that Esther would not eat anything at the court of the King that wasn’t kosher, so she mainly ate peas and beans. With that in mind, seriously, have a good holiday today. Until next time, Shalon and Good Cooking!

March 14, 2006. advice, main courses, recipes. 2 comments.

And yes, I’ve always wanted a Phở Kit…

Continuing my world culinary travels, tonight we’ll be looking at Vietnamese food. Specifically, a delicious soup dinner known as Phở (Pronounced ‘fuh’). This hearty soup will fill any appitite, and is quite easy to keep kosher. First, we need the stock base. To do this, we’re going to make a batch of ox tail soup.

Ox Tail Soup

2 Ox tails chopped up into 2-4 inch segments
4 quarts water
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

This is a job for our friend, Mister Slow Cooker. Start by filling the slow cooker with the 4 quarts of water.

Add in the washed tails and yout kosher salt, then cover and cook on low for 24 hours.

When the 24 hours is up, the fat should be collected at the top of the broth. Scoop it off before taking out the meat and bones.

You now have your broth, which is the main base for Phở. The next step is to set aside LARGE bowls for those eating as we make ready to make…

Beef Phở
3-4 quarts ox tail broth
2 packages of thick Rice noodles, cooked
1 pound of thin cuts of beef (The best choices of this is to have your butcher VERY thinly slive some filets of steak, fatty flank, lean flank, and brisket)
1/2 cup small cooked beef meatballs
1/8th cup green onions, diced
1/8th cup white onions, diced
2-3 coriander leaves (optional)
3-4 sprigs basil
A lemon or lime, sliced into wedges
1 cup bean sprouts
1/8th cup dried chile pepper

Taking the rice noodles, scoop some into each bowl. Feel free to add as many or as little noodles as your personal taste warrants.

Next, add in the strips of beef and the beef meatballs, covering the noodles.

At this point, you can add in a little bit of the green & white onions, as well as the optional coriander leaves.

At this point, take the HOT ox tail broth and pour it into the bowls, filling the bowls until their is about 1/8th an inch left from the rim of the bowl.

At this point, the bowls can be served. The heat from the near boiling broth with cook the beef strips, as well as share it’s flavor with the noodles. I suggest stillung with long chopsticks as you wait for the meat to finish cooking fully (About 5 minutes or so).

At this point, you can use bits of basil ripped roughly to bring out it’s flavor, squeezes of lemon or lime, bean sprouts, or dried chili pepper. Also, I HIGHLY reccomend also looking into hoisin sauce, fish sauce, and Sriracha (An asian hot sauce). Surprisingly, it’s QUITE easy to find kosher parve hoisin sauce and fish sauce. And Sriracha is a delicious kosher hot sauce for any need!

I hope this Vietnamese delights your taste buds as much as I enjoy it! Shalom and tốt cách nấu ăn (Good Cooking)!

March 3, 2006. main courses, recipes. 11 comments.