Food for Thought:
Have you considered vegan and vegetarian options for Passover?
By Irwin Rapoport
March 13, 2023
Passover will soon be upon us – this year it starts on April 6, and many start preparing for the Seder meals early on. This holiday brings family and friends together and, of course, when people get together, good meals are associated with these gatherings. Not to be forgotten is that the Last Supper was a Passover meal that Jesus and the twelve Apostles were enjoying before all hell broke loose, but that is another story.
Passover celebrates the story of the exodus from Egypt of the Jewish people, with the first two nights based on dinners in which the story of the exodus is recalled via the reading of the Haggadah before and after the Seder meal. More traditional families read both parts of the Haggadah, but many only read the first half and follow the rituals associated with it. Everyone at the table has an opportunity to participate as the story is told, be it reading a few paragraphs or a whole page. It is a time to reflect, make jokes, have a few glasses of wine, and look forward to the magnificent feast. While one family hosts the gathering, it is often a case of guests bringing appetizers and desserts. My brother Ronald makes excellent homemade pickles.
Meat, chicken, and fish are most definitely traditionally part of a Seder meal, but they can be replaced with vegan and vegetarian options.
Seders bring everyone together, with the youngest at the table traditionally asking the four questions and after the meal, the children look for the afikomen (hidden matzah), which is often easily found.
Meat, chicken, and fish are most definitely traditionally part of a Seder meal, but they can be replaced with vegan and vegetarian options. Below are recipes that are delicious and can be served year-round.
My good friend Sheindl Rothman has been a vegetarian since 1978. Her daughter Reveena is a chef who prepares delectable vegan and vegetarian meals in her clients’ homes and has a weekly menu for other clients to pick up or have delivered. She can be contacted at email@example.com
Sheindl suggested these tried and true favourites for Passover.
From The New Laurel’s Kitchen by Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders and Brian Ruppenthal
This sweet and deeply colourful salad adds a bright touch to any plate.
- 4 beets
- 3 oranges
- 2 tbsp coconut
- 1 tsp honey
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Grated peel of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tbsp current jelly
- 1 tsp vinegar
- A pinch of salt
- Wash beets and steam until tender, then peel. Grate on a ripple-shaped grater or slice in long, thin sticks.
- Peel, seed, and cut up oranges. Place the oranges in a blender with coconut, honey, lemon juice, and peel, and blend for 2 minutes.
- Mix all ingredients, balancing the sweetness with additional vinegar if needed. Chill, letting the flavours blend for 2 hours or so.
- Makes 3 cups.
Vegetarian Chopped Liver
From Ratner’s Meatless Cookbook by Judith Gethers and Elizabeth Lefft
- ½ pound brown lentils, cooked and drained
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 8 hard-boiled eggs
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp smooth peanut butter
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
- In a food processor, blend lentils, hard-boiled eggs, and ½ cup onion.
- Add peanut butter and seasonings. Blend again.
- Sauté the remaining 1½ cups of onion in half the oil and mix in by hand.
- Top this appetizer with fried onions and serve. It is always a hit and feeds quite a few.
Notes Sheindl: “Not difficult – I do it in steps and use the food processor with the steel blade. Be sure to include the fried onion. It is sooooooooooooooooo good!”
Says Sheindl Rothman: “This is Reveena’s recipe (Sheindl’s daughter). These are great on the veggie chopped liver, but they are so good it is hard to resist eating them straight off the paper towel.”
- 2 large onions
- Matzah meal
- Oil for frying
- Slice onions thinly. Separate the rings and dip them in matzah meal to coat lightly. Fry in hot oil until crispy. Spread on a paper towel to absorb excess oil. Salt lightly.
Mock Chicken Soup
From Still Life with Menu by Mollie Katzen
This broth smells, looks and tastes (almost) like chicken soup. It may seem like a lot of garlic but is essential to the soup and will tone down as it simmers. The parsnip is not essential. It adds sweetness to the soup, which I like, but you may not. This soup may be made several days in advance and stored in a tightly closed container in the fridge. I serve some of the vegetables with the soup and make matzah balls from a mix.
I find that this only makes 3 to 4 servings so I usually triple or quadruple the recipe depending upon how many people you’re having for your Seder.
- 8 cups water
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 8-inch parsnip, cut into chunks (optional, adds sweetness)
- 2 large carrots, peeled or scrubbed, cut into chunks
- 2 medium-sized onions, cut in half
- 8 to 10 cloves garlic (do not cut in half)
- 2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
- 2 scallions (optional)
- A handful of mushrooms, cleaned, stems trimmed
- ½ tsp turmeric
- Half a bunch of dill
- Combine everything in a large pot.
- Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and partially cover.
- Cook slowly for about an hour and a quarter. Turn off the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
- Strain and remove the vegetables. I keep the ones I am going to serve in a separate container. Heat gently just before serving.
Says Sheindl Rothman: “When my daughter Reveena was in elementary school, her Jewish Heritage Studies teacher asked the students to bring in their favourite Pesach recipes which she gathered in a Passover Cookbook. This is one of the recipes which is rich, easy, and tasty.”
- One large leek
- ½ stick (¼ cup) butter
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 5 eggs
- 2 matzahs
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
- Discard the dark green leaves of the leek and cut the leek open lengthwise (this will allow for better rinsing).
- Cut the leek into thin rings and sauté in the butter for 15 minutes.
- Add the salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
- Mix the eggs and cream together in a bowl.
- Break the matzah into pieces. Soak in one cup of warm water for 5 minutes, then drain and squeeze dry.
- Mix the matzah with one-third of the cream and egg mixture and add a pinch of salt.
- Grease a 10-inch pan and line the bottom with the matzah mixture.
- Mix the leek and grated cheddar cheese with the remaining egg and cream mixture. Spread it over the matzah base already in the pan.
- Bake at 350 F for one hour or until the mixture sets and is golden brown.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
From A Piece of Cake by Susan G. Purdy
Once the ingredients are assembled, this cake takes less than 10 minutes to put together. Perfect for Pesach or for those who cannot tolerate gluten. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving. Serves 10 to 12.
- 2 oz best quality white chocolate, chopped
- 7 oz best-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped
- ½ cup water
- 2 tsp instant espresso powder or other flavouring*
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into ½ inch pieces
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten in a small bowl
- Prepare a 9-inch round cake pan by greasing the bottom and sides with butter or shortening. Line the pan with a round of wax or parchment paper.
- Sprinkle the pieces of white chocolate over the bottom of the cake pan.
- Process the chopped semisweet chocolate in the food processor using the steel blade until it is reduced to a fine, even powder (about 60 seconds).
- In a saucepan, combine the water, coffee powder, and sugar. Bring to a boil and cook just until the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour the syrup into a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup at once.
- Slowly pour the syrup into the food processor using the feed tube. Process for about 10 seconds until the chocolate starts to melt. Scrape down the sides and process until completely melted.
- Add the pieces of butter and process until melted (about 2 minutes).
- Add the eggs to the still-running food processor and process for just a few seconds, to blend.
- If you have not added coffee to the batter, add another flavouring* at this time and pulse to blend.
- Pour the batter over the bits of white chocolate in the prepared pan. Smooth the top as much as possible.
- Place the pan in a larger pan filled halfway with hot water. Bake at 350 F for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is barely firm and slightly rubbery to the touch. The cake should not stick to your finger.
- Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack. Run a knife between the cake sides and the pan. Cover with a sheet of Saran Wrap and invert. Cool before refrigerating.
- You can also garnish the sides of the cake with ⅔ cup of toasted sliced almonds.
* Variations: Omit the coffee and add 3 tbsp of any fruit or nut liqueur. For example: Grand Marnier with ½ tsp orange extract, Framboise or Crème de Menthe with ½ tsp peppermint extract, or Amaretto with ½ tsp almond extract.
You can also try these vegan recipes from The Edgy Veg
Irwin Rapoport is a freelance journalist with Bachelor degrees in History and Political Science from Concordia University.