"I've noticed that quite a lot of people who are prominent in the animal liberation movement are Jews. Maybe we are simply not prepared to see the powerful hurting the weak."
--Peter Singer (Author, Animal Liberation)
For the second straight year, I spent the first seder with the NYC Jewish Veg*ns MeetUp group. (Click here to read last year's post.) The host, who did a Herculean job preparing most of the food for 21 people, was busy in the kitchen most of the night, so I wound up leading the seder. It proved a good opportunity to promote heebnvegan! The entirely vegan and kosher-for-Passover menu featured matzoh ball soup, mushroom-walnut pate, charoset, salad, potato/kale/onion kugel, sweet-potato/carrot/currant kugel, broccoli "cheese" casserole with matzoh stuffing (the only dish to feature a kitniyot-based product), grilled vegetables with spicy tomato sauce, five varieties of macaroons, seven-layer chocolate matzoh cake, and Rescue Chocolate's "Don't Passover Me" Bark.
Last night, I went to a cousin's seder with about 17 other relatives. As my video comparison suggests, the family seder (click here to watch the family version of "Chad Gad Ya") was more traditional than the MeetUp seder (click here to watch the MeetUp version of "Chad Gad Ya"). My mom had made the Passover Nutloaf featured in last week's guest post, and it seemed fitting to have nut-based food at the forefront of my meal. After all, nuts have a long history as the center of my family's seders, through a family tradition called the Nut Game, which is essentially bocce with hazelnuts:
I'm responsible for all my vegan, kosher-for-Passover food preparation for the next six days, and I'm not at all intimidated about this. I was already excited to cook with all the fresh vegetables, fruit, and soybeans (still in the pods) I bought at the Union Square Greenmarket. I also found myriad vegan, kosher-for-Passover goodies at a kosher supermarket on the Upper West Side called Supersol, including mango sorbet, matbucha, cashew butter, mini-croutons, hot cereal, and rotelle and shells pasta.
Guest Post: Nut-Based Cuisine: The Definitive Source of Plant Protein on Passover
Ashkenazi Jews avoid many sources of plant protein on Passover, but nuts are vegan, kosher-for-Passover, and high in protein. The following guest post was written by Zel Allen, author of The Nut Gourmet, a cookbook that puts the spotlight on nut dishes. Check out Allen's NutGourmet Blog at http://nutgourmet.wordpress.com for more recipes, nut nutrition, and amusing nut oddities, and feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a Jew and a vegan, I celebrate the Passover holiday with a unique view: one that takes into my heart the suffering of not only Jews who still struggle for survival but also of all people who live their lives in bondage. I send a prayer of hope for their freedom and for a better life. As I prepare my holiday dishes, I also send a message of comfort to the animals that suffer on factory farms and in slaughterhouses.
My greatest joy is sharing delicious vegan foods that support our local California farmers and that give me the opportunity to express gratitude that I am not enslaved as my Jewish ancestors were in Egypt. I am free and joyful and delighted that families in some far corner of the country or in a distant land might enjoy these recipes prepared with love and compassion.
Though these main-dish recipes contain no animal products, they are nourishing and wholesome, especially because I have included nuts as an excellent source of protein and fiber. Vegans who observe the Ashkenazi Passover traditions and must forgo legumes and whole grains will now be able to enjoy complete satiety because nuts offer not only great flavor but also nutrient density. They’re packed with the important B vitamins, vitamin E, and a host of minerals like calcium, potassium, selenium, copper, zinc, and iron. A multitude of nut studies have shown consistently that nuts are a great aid in helping to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of coronary artery disease. Most of all, though, dishes enhanced with nuts just simply taste great.
A special occasion entrée is usually a little fussier than an everyday family-style dish, but I'm betting on no regrets once you've tasted this scrumptious nutloaf that's especially attractive when baked in a springform pan. For convenience, prepare it a day ahead. Just before warming, cover it with aluminum foil, shiny side down, and reheat it at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Then present this majestic nutloaf with a delicious, savory, and charismatic Tomato Herb Gravy that brings a special vigor to the dish.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
2 medium onions
1 pound russet potatoes, unpeeled
3 cloves garlic, divided
2 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
2 cups whole almonds
1/3 cup walnuts
1/3 cup pecans
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes (optional)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Dash cayenne (optional)
1 large ripe tomato, diced
1 bunch fresh dill, basil, or parsley
1 orange, sliced
1.Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and place the pan on a baking sheet, or lightly oil an 8 x 8-inch ovenproof baking dish.
2.Cut the onions in half. Coarsely chop one of the halves and set it aside. Cut the remaining onions into chunks and pulse-chop them in the food processor until minced. Transfer them to a large bowl and set aside.
3.Scrub the potatoes, cut them into coarse chunks, and put them into a 2-quart saucepan. Coarsely chop 1 of the garlic cloves and add it to the saucepan along with the 1/2 coarsely chopped onions, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and water to cover. Cover the saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. Thoroughly drain the potatoes and onions in a colander to remove all the liquid, and transfer them to a medium bowl. Mash them with a fork or potato masher, and add them to the bowl with the reserved minced onions.
4.Finely grind the almonds in the food processor and add them to the potato bowl. Process the walnuts and pecans until they are well ground but still retain a little crunchy texture, and add them to the potatoes.
5.Finely mince the remaining garlic cloves and add them to the bowl along with the 2 medium tomatoes, water, nutritional yeast, if using, lemon juice, remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons salt, nutmeg, basil, thyme, marjoram, pepper, and optional cayenne. Mix well until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined. Spoon the nutloaf mixture into the prepared springform pan, pressing with the back of a spoon or your hands to compact the mixture.
6.Arrange the diced tomato over top and bake for 60 to 70 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let it stand for 15 minutes. Use a flatware knife to loosen the edges of the loaf, place the springform pan on a large serving platter, then, release the springform collar.
7.To serve, cut the loaf into wedges. Garnish the edges of the platter with fresh herbs and orange slices and serve. If desired, serve with Tomato Herb Gravy on the side.
Tomato Herb Gravy
Yield: about 3 1/4 cups
3 cups water
3 medium size Roma tomatoes, diced
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried sage leaves
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons arrowroot or potato starch
2 tablespoons water
1.Combine the water, tomatoes, garlic, lemon juice, and onion powder in a 2-quart saucepan.
2.Create a bouquet garni by placing the rosemary, thyme, and sage into the center of a small piece of cheesecloth. Gather up the ends to enclose the herbs, and tie it securely with a string. Add the bouquet garni to the saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.
3.Reduce the heat to medium and simmer about 5 to 8 minutes. Discard the bouquet garni and season the gravy with salt and pepper.
4.Combine the arrowroot and water in a small cup or bowl and stir it well to form a runny paste. Stir the paste into the gently simmering tomato gravy a little at a time, stirring with a wire whip for about 1 minute, or until the gravy is thickened to desired consistency. Cook one minute longer to temper the arrowroot.
Sweet Potato Dumplings in Tomato Brazil Nut Sauce
Dumplings are a delightful Passover treat. And made with sweet potatoes, they pack sweetness with every tantalizing bite. Add the savory nut-enhanced tomato sauce and the dish becomes especially enticing and highly nutritious.
The easiest way to enjoy these delicious dumplings is to prepare them a day or two before serving, place them on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate them. You can even prepare the sauce for them in advance, and refrigerate it in a covered container. Shortly before serving, combine the dumplings and the sauce in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and warm it at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.
To prepare the dumplings at other times of the year, I prefer to use whole-wheat matzoh flour to make them more nutritious.
Yield: 28 golden dumplings
3 pounds yellow sweet or orange potatoes
1 (1-pound) box matzoh
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1.Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil, shiny side down. Place the sweet potatoes on the baking sheet and bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until they are softened.
2.While the potatoes are baking, grind the matzoh into flour in the blender in several batches. Fill a 6- to 10-quart stockpot two-thirds full with water, cover, and set aside.
3.When the potatoes are soft, peel them and use a potato masher to mash them in a large mixing bowl.
4.Add the salt, turmeric, and 1 3/4 cups of the matzoh flour to the sweet potatoes and mix well to form a stiff dough. You may find it’s easier to mix the dough with your hands. Save the remaining matzoh flour for other Passover recipes.
5.Bring the stockpot water to a boil over high heat. Spoon out heaping tablespoons of sweet potato dough and roll each one between the palms to form a dumpling about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. When you have formed about 4 or 5 dumplings, carefully lower them into the boiling water with a spoon and boil them for 2 to 3 minutes or until they begin to float to the surface.
6.Use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked dumplings to a dish and repeat the rolling and boiling process with the remainder of the dough.
Tomato Brazil Nut Sauce
Yield: 6 to 7 cups
3 cups water
2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, coarsely broken with a fork
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 1/2 teaspoons organic sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Brazil nuts
1.Combine all the ingredients, except the Brazil nuts, in a stockpot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat, if needed, to avoid burning the sauce.
2.While the sauce is simmering, grind the Brazil nuts to a buttery meal in several batches in a mini chopper/grinder or small electric coffee grinder.
3.Add the nut meal to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes longer. The sauce will thicken considerably. Thin the sauce with a little water if needed.