If you’re Jewish—or are a relative or friend of the tribe—you’ll be stuffing yourself silly with delicious traditional dishes next week. Unfortunately for vegetarians, the customary Passover menu is loaded with beef, poultry, and fish. My grandmother always made her famous brisket for seder, and my mother usually makes both brisket and chicken, not to mention her scrumptious chicken soup with perfect matzohballs. Then there’s gefilte fish, eaten with a dollop of spicy red horseradish, which I’ve grown to love over years of intense exposure therapy. Oh, and don’t forget that big bowl of hard-boiled eggs. No doubt about it, a traditional seder is not a whole lot of fun for those who don’t eat animal products. So this year, since our guest list includes some vegetarians, I’ve made it my mission to come up with an animal-free entree that we can all enjoy.
In putting together this veggie stew, I took a few things into consideration. I wanted to come up with something that would go well with the rest of the dinner, that would (at least seem to) have some relevance, and that would be incredibly easy to make. A potato-based vegetable stew seemed like a good match for a meaty dinner. And I tossed in some Mediterranean ingredients, as well as some springtime ingredients, for the relevance part. For the easiness, I made sure the entire dish could be made in one single pot—a critical quality for one of the kitchen’s busiest nights of the year.
Now, a word about the optional chickpeas: Ashkenazi Jews (whose roots trace back to Germany and neighboring countries) abstain not only from bread and leavened products during Passover, but also from rice, corn, legumes, and seeds, like sesame and poppy. On the other hand, Sephardic Jews (whose roots trace back to Spain and Portugal) don’t share the custom of those secondary restrictions. I decided to go Sephardic for this stew, and include chickpeas to add some protein—but you can certainly leave them out if you are a strict non-legume-consumer.
p.s. Leave out the optional Parmesan cheese, and you’ve got yourself a genuine vegan Passover entree.
This vegetarian Passover entree includes hearty Mediterranean and Springtime ingredients like tomatoes, olives, potatoes, and artichoke hearts. And the entire dish can be made in one single pot—a critical quality for one of the kitchen's busiest nights of the year. (The chickpeas are optional, depending on your Passover dietary habits.)
2 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
1½ pounds small red potatoes, halved or quartered
½ pound carrots, sliced ½-inch thick
2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, including juice
1 cup red wine
1 cup raisins
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained (optional)
8 ounces frozen or canned artichoke hearts, thawed or drained and cut in half
¾ cup pitted green olives
2 tablespoons capers
freshly grated Parmesan cheese for optional non-vegan garnish
In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When oil is hot but not smoking, add onions and stir until onions are soft and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes.
Add garlic, potatoes, and carrots and stir for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
Add diced tomatoes and juice, wine, raisins, salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme. Bring liquid to a boil, then lower heat and simmer, covered, until potatoes and carrots begin to soften (10 to 15 minutes).
Add chickpeas, artichoke hearts, olives, and capers, and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes, until potatoes and carrots are soft.
Taste, and add additional salt and pepper if needed.
Serve with freshly grated Parmesan (optional).
Jewish recipes are the heart of every Jewish holiday celebration. There’s a special dish (or five!) for every occasion, from the high holidays to Shabbat dinners! Here are my favorite Jewish recipes for the holidays or any day.
Brisket is braised in a mixture of red wine, beef broth, dried fruit, and North African spices for a Mediterranean take on the traditional Jewish holiday dish. This recipe was adapted from a recipe by Jayne Cohen in Bon Appetit.
You can make a gluten-free version by substituting gluten-free brown rice flour for the flour. You can also jazz up the recipe by adding thinly sliced scallions or substituting sweet potatoes, parsnips, or apples for some (or all) of the potatoes. This recipe serves about 4 people and is easily doubled or tripled.
This Instant Pot hummus from scratch starts with dried chickpeas and takes less than an hour to make—and that's start to finish time. There's no need to soak the beans. The result is lush, rich, creamy, and full of flavor.
This is a great way to use up leftover cooked couscous. The dressing can be whisked together in a bowl, but is especially easy to make in a food processor—chop the parsley leaves in the processor first, then add the other ingredients and process until smooth.
Ground lamb is mixed with lots of fresh herbs, aromatics, and spices and then grilled on skewers. I like to serve these with pita bread, hummus, tzatziki, harissa or chermoula, and a salad of romaine, cucumbers, and tomatoes with lemon dressing. Brown basmati rice is a great accompaniment as well.
Pita bread is surprisingly easy to make and watching the rounds puff up in the oven is so, so satisfying. Use them for sandwiches or cut them into triangles and use them to scoop savory Middle Eastern dips like my Instant Pot Hummus, baba ganoush, or tzatziki.
Sufganiyot are traditional Israeli jelly donuts often eaten during Hanukkah, along with other fried foods. Because, of course, fried foods celebrate the miracle of the oil! This recipe makes a simple, lightly sweetened fried dough that can be filled with jelly or the fillling of your choice and dusted with powdered sugar.
Israeli Salad, distinguished by finely diced tomatoes and cucumbers, is described (by Wikipedia) as "the most well-known national dish of Israel." Variations on the theme are limitless. Our version includes hard boiled eggs and feta cheese.
This bright, fresh, kosher for Passover salad—a take on the popular Middle Eastern bread salad called fattoush—gives the plain crackers new life. Spiced, baked matzo “chips” replace the usual flat bread, but other than that, this hearty salad packs all the fresh herby, tangy, spicy flavor you expect from fattoush.