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Have a Ball on Passover…and Other Vegan Recipes

by Mihal Levy

March 23, 2010 | 11:04 am

If you thought giving up bread was tough (among other things during Passover - ie. parsley in saltwater - not something we normally snack on), think of the Jewish vegetarians and vegans forced to look at a hard boiled egg and shank bone on the seder plate. 

Apparently there are some modern twists and alternatives on the seder plate that I have just learned about which include a flower in place of the egg to represent life and a roasted beet in place of the shankbone.  A shankbone can be replaced with a beet (apparently mentioned in the Talmud).  An additional “modern twist” is the inclusion of an orange on the seder plate.  An urban legend says that a man stated, “A woman belongs on the bimah as much as an orange belongs on the seder plate,” so many women include the orange in protest of sexism.

Whatever you decide to include on your seder plate is up to you, (of course many will argue that it is not up to you, as in the words of Tevye -“tradition” - whose advice I have been following for years, minus the part about marrying a butcher), but whether you are a vegan or not, some recipes are definitely worth trying.

And I have included a few:

Vegan Matzoh Balls (Uses soy beans) (Taken from HeebnVegan.blogspot.com from Isa Chandra Moskowitz the queen of Jewish Vegan Cooking and Vegan Cooking in general.  If you haven’t heard of her, you need to look her up. (The Post Punk Kitchen: www.ppk.com) for great information and recipes, or see a previous article I wrote, “Brunching Vegan Style” reviewing her book “Vegan Brunch.”)
Ingredients
1 1/2 cups matzoh meal
12 oz package firm silken tofu (like mori-nu)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable stock
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 carrot, peeled
handful fresh dill
fresh parsley for garnish

8 cups or so vegetable broth

Directions
In a mixing bowl, combine the matzoh meal with salt and pepper, set aside.

Crumble the tofu into In a blender or food processor, add the vegetable broth and puree until smooth. Add the oil and blend again.

Mix the tofu mixture with the matzoh meal. Combine well, making sure that everything moist. Grate 1/2 the carrot into the mixture and combine until it’s well distributed. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to overnight. You can’t skip this step, it’s important in making sure that the matzoh balls will not fall apart when boiled.

When you are ready to form the balls, fill a large stock pot with enough water to fit all the matzoh balls with minimal touching. Salt the water generously, cover and bring to a boil.

Have handy a cutting board to line up the formed matzoh balls, and cover it with parchment paper if you have it, to prevent sticking. Also have handy a wet rag to wipe your hands on to make for clean hands for forming matzoh balls.

Remove matzoh mixture from the fridge. Form into tightly packed, walnut sized balls. When all the balls are prepared, drop carefully into the boiling water, 1 or two at a time, with a spatula or slotted spoon. Take your time and be careful, not to plop one on top of the other. When all the balls are in the water, cover the pot and Do not lift lid for forty minutes!  When the forty minutes are up you can remove the lid. The matzoh balls will have floated to the top and will drop back down when lid is lifted.

Now they are ready to serve, however, to make them even lighter, you can turn off the heat, cover the pot again, and let them sit in the water for another hour or so. This way they absorb more water and expand a bit more.

Prepare the broth by placing it in a seperate pot. Grate the other half of the carrot into the broth, along with a healthy handful or fresh dill, roughly chopped. Bring to a low boil, and when it’s just heated you’re ready to prepare the bowls.

With a slotted spoon, carefully remove matzoh balls and place 2 or 3 in a bowl. Ladle the broth over the matzoh balls, so that they’re covered only about half way. You can garnish with some more fresh dill, or parsley. Serve.

Sweet Potato Pear Tzimmes with Pecans and Raisins (From Isa Chandra Moskowitz - www.heebnvegan.blogspot.com)
Serves 6

2 pounds yams, peed and cut into 3/4 inch chunks
3 firm bartlett pears, cut into 3/4 inch chunks (without the seeds of course)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus spray on a little more if it needs it
2 tablespoons mirin (or any sweet cooking wine)
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup pecan halves
3/4 cup golden raisins

Preheat oven to 350.

Place yams and pears on a large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with the oil and mirin and mix it all up to make sure everything is coated. I just use my hands for this. I use my hands for everything, actually. Add the maple syrup, cinnamon, salt and pecans and toss to coat.

Cover with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the tin foil and add the raisins. Carefully toss to combine using a thin flexible spatula and being careful not to break up the sweet potatoes. But tzimmes is a forgiving dish, so if some get mushed up that’s perfectly acceptable.

Return to the oven uncovered and bake for a 1/2 hour more, tossing every now and again. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Mushroom Walnut Pate (this uses beans too) (From Isa Chandra Moskowitz - www.heebnvegan.blogspot.com)
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 cup chopped onions
3 cloves garlic - minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 pound crimini or portobello mushrooms - chopped and any hard stems removed
3/4 teaspoon salt
few shakes of fresh ground pepper

1 cup toasted walnuts
3/4 cup cannelini beans - drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
up to 1/4 cup vegetable broth

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute for 3-5 minutes until translucent. Add garlic, thyme, tarragon, salt and pepper and cook for another minute. Next add mushrooms, and cook for 7-10 minutes until mushrooms are very soft, lowering heat if necessary.

While mushrooms are cooking add walnuts to food processor and process until fine.

Once mushrooms have cooked add the mushroom/onion mixture to the walnuts along with balsamic vinegar, cannelini beans and remaining tablespoon of olive oil and process until very smooth adding vegetable broth as needed. Texture should resemble a thick paste.

Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Vegan Sweet Potato Kugel  (www.about.com)
Ingredients:
6 small sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
3 apples, peeled and grated
1 cup raisins
1 cup matzo meal
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup water
Preparation:

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Use a food processor to grate the sweet potatoes and apples. Combine all ingredients together.

Gently press into a baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until lightly crisp on top.

And lastly…dessert!  (Jew Mama’s Recipe) A Passover favorite in my home:

Matzoh S’mores
Matzohs
Chocolate squares
Large marshmallows or mini vegan marshmallows (I got them at whole foods last year)
Break Matzoh into quarters (1 square makes 2 S’mores)
Place a 1 marshmallow or a few vegan mini-marshmallows and 2 squares of pareve/vegan chocolate between two matzohs

Place Matzoh ‘sandwiches’ on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 until marshmallows and chocolate begin to melt

Remove from oven and immediately press each ‘sandwich’ so that they stick

Melt remaining chocolate squares in microwave or on the stove and drizzle over tops of Matzoh sandwiches

Let cool (or as in my home - eat right away)

Serve

Enjoy your vegan Passover, the orange on your seder plate or at least some of the vegan recipes.  And let me know what you thought of my S’mores.

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