Monday, April 4, 2011

Giant Vegan Passover Post

Clockwise from top left: roasted beets with horseradish sauce, carrot top (karpas), asparagus, carrot, haroset, roasted potatoes

Being vegan at holidays is a challenge for some people. It's a time when we confront our food nostalgia and our family's expectations. But Passover has unique challenges for vegans, especially if they are Ashkenazi.

There are two basic camps at Pesach. Those who eat kitniyot (beans, peanuts, corn, rice, and so on) and those who don't. If you noticed, most protein-heavy vegan foods fall into that kitniyot category. This makes it a challenge for vegan Ashkenazim who avoid kitniyot. My family's tradition, despite my European ancestry, is to eat kitniyot. We really weren't very strict about Passover growing up, and I don't find Passover too hard to negotiate now because of that.

Some general tips about being vegan at Pesach, and then I'll start with the recipe lists.
• Spring vegetables are starting to roll in, and this is a good time to focus on vegetables.
• Think like a raw foodist. Most of the foods that raw foodists eat are Passover friendly and free of kitniyot. Raw dessert recipes are especially helpful.
• Alternatively, think like an Eat-to-Live dieter. This eating plan is also very Passover friendly.
Making your own plant milk is really easy to do. Cashew milk and almond milk are good Passover milk choices. And cashew cream is great for desserts. Leave out the sweeteners for savory uses.
• Speaking of nuts, if you don't eat kitniyot, tree nuts are your friend. Peanuts, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and sunflower seeds are all kitniyot, but tree nuts are OK to consume for everyone.
• Quinoa is a really popular grain at Passover because it's not actually a grain. Quinoa is high in protein relative to other grains. Quinoa is usually considered acceptable for Passover, though it can be hard to find quinoa with a Passover hechsher if that's your tradition. Use quinoa to make a breakfast porridge, pilaf, or even quinoa milk.
• The seder plate usually contains some non-vegan items. Using a beet instead of a lamb shank is a long-standing tradition. A beet on the seder plate is even mentioned in the Talmud. Wrap a beet in foil, roast it in the oven for an hour, and then peel or rub off the skin. The beet will look bloody, and that's the point.
• Instead of an egg, you can use: a wooden or plastic egg, an avocado pit, or (if kitniyot aren't an issue) mustard seeds. They're all symbols of growth and renewal.
• For those who eat kitniyot, 1/4 cup pureed silken tofu replaces one egg in a kugel. I've tried this substitution in many kugels, and it always works.

Vegan Passover Recipes without Kitniyot
Latkes (replace the corn starch with potato starch and the flour with matzah cake meal or matzah meal)
• Roasted potatoes
Matzo farfel granola (honey=agave)
• Baked apples or poached pears
• Haroset, of course!
Nut roast
Chocolate Toffee Matzo (non-dairy kosher for Passover margarine can be ordered online from a kosher retailer)
Breakfast quinoa (use almond or cashew milk)
Quinoa breakfast porridge (different from the first link)
Potato Leek Soup
• Tzimmes
• Vegan chopped liver spread (no green beans or eggs!)
Potato Mushroom Kugel (use KP margarine or just sub oil)
Gefilte fish
Quinoa Stuffed Peppers (skip the sauce)
Tomato Bisque (saute in oil and use potato starch instead of flour)
• Roasted portobello mushroom
Creamy Zucchini and Basil Soup (omit nutritional yeast, depending on your custom)
Artichoke Tapenade on matzo
• Smoothies

Vegan Passover Recipes with Kitniyot
Potato kugel (replace the flour with matzah cake meal or matzah meal)
Matzah ball soup
Cauliflower-leek kugel (all the ?? are 1/2). This recipe always impresses people.
• Cholent (leave out any barley or bulgur)
Mock gefilte fish
Quinoa Pilaf
Black bean mini-burgers
Chocolate tofu pudding (put it in a nut and matzah crust for a pie)
• Cornmeal or rice porridge
Vegan Passover Macaroons (I'm unsure about some of these ingredients, so investigate them for yourself)

Helpful Cookbooks
Olive Trees and Honey, by Gil Marks
No Cholesterol Passover Recipes, by Debra Wasserman
The (Almost) No Fat Holiday Cookbook, by Bryanna Clark Grogan
Party Vegan, by Robin Robertson
The Vegan Table, by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Elsewhere on the Internet
• Advice and recipes from Isa Chandra Moskowitz on Heeb'n'vegan
Nut-based Passover cuisine, also on Heeb'n'vegan
• And one final Passover guide on Heeb'n'vegan
• PETA's page of Passover recipes
Happy Healthy Long Life

I've done my best to spot errant cumin, green beans, and the like, but if you're cooking for someone else, it's always a good idea to ask what they eat at Passover.


I now blog at Lone Star Plate. Come check out my fool-proof vegan matzah ball soup.


wingraclaire said...

Wow! Thanks! This is wonderful. I'm with you on the kitniyot.... even though I'm Ashkenazic, I always claim to be Sephardic for Passover. I appreciate the recipes and will try some of them. Normally, the VRG's vegan Passover cookbook is my mainstay at Passover. I have been using it for probably 25 years or longer.

mollyjade said...

I have no idea why my family's tradition is to eat kitniyot. I should ask my grandmother sometime. My guess is that it was just loss of tradition through mainstreaming. I asked my grandmother once why our family frequently cooked bacon but never ham, and she told me that the pediatrician told my grandmother that her daughters needed more protein at breakfast!

I do know of several vegans who have gotten permission from their rabbis to adopt the Sephardic custom since the Ashkenazic tradition is really limiting for vegans, even if only for a week.

The Healthy Librarian said...

Wow, Molly Jade, this is an amazing effort in collecting so many delicious sounding recipes.

I'm going to be revisiting your post throughout next week. I sure wish I had seen this before I wrote my Passover post--I would have loved to share your link.

mollyjade said...

Thanks! I added a link to your post.

Anonymous said...

Just as a note, tofu is prohibited for Sephardim as well. It's not a matter of kitniyot, soy beans are allowed. Tofu however goes through an alcohol fermentation process that involves grain alcohol and yeast in the process. Eating tofu (or other soy based products) is just about the same as eating bread on Passover.

mollyjade said...

Thanks for the note Anonymous. Many vegetarian Jews choose to consume tofu at Passover. As I said at the bottom of the post, if you're cooking for someone else, it's best to check in with them first about what ingredients they do and do not consider acceptable.

Anonymous said...


I just learned about "Erev Tavshilin" (when a Yom Tov (Holiday) falls on a Friday, there is an allowance to prepare on the Yom Tov (Holiday) for the needs of Shabbat)...however was wondering what Vegan Ashkenazim alternatives are available during Passover re: traditional Erev Tavshilin food souces: cooked fish, cooked meat, or hard-boiled egg).

I thought of "Quinoa," however wondered there must be so many more ideas/recipes of Erev Tavshilin Ashkenazim food vegan sources available...

Would appreciate everyone's thoughts--thank you, in advance, of your time and replies.