Two years ago, I spent Pesach at Livnot U’Lehibanot in Tzfat, where we spent time connecting the ideas of Egypt and freedom with our personal struggles today. Burning alongside our chametz in the 16th century oven was a scrap of paper from each of us, inscribed with our personal "Mitzrayims". As a vegan, the dietary rules of Pesach in and of themselves constitute one of my Mitzrayims. Pesach was the final frontier for both my veganism, given the egg-centricity of traditional Ashkenazi Pesach cuisine, and my vegetarianism, as it marked the last time I ever ate meat eleven years ago. Since that time, I’ve learned how to be better prepared for the constraints of the week, and how to find the freedom in restriction.
Though it is possible for Ashkenazim to procure exemptions from the kitniyot prohibition, I choose to include that restriction in my Pesach observance. This stems partially from the desire to make this week different from all other weeks, and also so that my recipes can be enjoyed by everyone, no matter their background. So what’s a vegan to do without kitniyot? Nuts make up the bulk of my protein intake for the week. Quinoa is another great protein option, and can be included in salads, stir-fries, lettuce tacos, and I’ve even heard of quinoa based “matzah” balls.
This year, focus on your health and all of the creative ways you can use vegetables. Try using your favorite flavor combinations in veggie dishes, whether it be coconut and lemongrass for a Thai sweet potato soup, or use my BBQ sauce recipe (see below) to smother some unexpected veggies, like grilled leeks. Most importantly, remember that Pesach is only 1 week! Enjoy yourselves, and chag sameach!
There are several components to this BBQ Collard Rolls With Pickled Onions and Jicama Carrot Slaw recipe. The result is an impressive vegan entree packed with fun flavors. In this dish, tangy sweet potatoes are covered in homemade BBQ sauce, then wrapped with DIY pickled onions in collard greens.
Mushroom pâté, as my grandfather used to make, was a combination of sautéed mushrooms and onions, mayonnaise, and a hard boiled egg. While this is certainly an acceptable vegetarian take on chopped liver, converting even liver fans like my dad's side of the family, it definitely wasn't vegan. First, for the egg, I decided to use soaked nuts, in order to give the paté the same kind of body that the egg brings, and for the mayo, I mimicked the flavors with a touch of olive oil and vinegar. For a little extra "eggy" punch, I like to season the paté with Indian black salt (kala namak). The result tastes almost exactly how I remember Grandpa's paté tasting, and though he was far from vegan, I'm glad I can still enjoy the food he made for us, even with a little adaptation.
MORE: A Very Vegan Passover
This Hearty Vegan Matzah Lasagna is packed with veggies and a rich tomato sauce layered between matzah and a "ricotta" cheese made from cashews and cauliflower.
This easy No-Bake Lime Curd Tart is a delicious vegan dessert for any occassion.
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