The Jew And The Carrot

How To Host an Elegant Vegetarian Seder

By Jessica Fisher

  • Print
  • Share Share
Thinkstock

Whether it’s eating a fish head on Rosh Hashanah or mom’s turkey on Thanksgiving, traditional holiday foods are often not vegetarian friendly. Meat consumption on holidays is deeply embedded in Jewish tradition, where Maimonides and others propagate the idea that one cannot properly observe a holiday or celebration without consuming meat. Even the seder plate calls for a lamb shank (though there are sources that do permit replacing it with a roasted beet). And while the meat issue complicates all holidays for vegetarians, Passover adds a level complexity by taking so many staples off the table, especially if you don’t eat kitnyot. But, contrary to Maimonides’ position, vegetarians will tell you it is possible to enjoy a feast without serving meat, even on Passover.

To make the meal feel decadent, make sure to start with an appetizer. While many mock chopped liver recipes involve peas, which are kitnyot, there are a number of fantastic recipes for mushroom-based mock chopped liver, which provides a lot of flavor and “meatiness” to your appetizer course (if you want to be even fancier, you can call it a pâté). If you have vegans at the table, this can easily be adapted for them by taking out the eggs. The next crucial element of a fancy meal is, of course, soup. This recipe from Whole Foods suggests adding assorted root vegetables to your vegetarian matza ball soup. If you want to depart from the matza ball tradition or give your guests options, try a pureed vegetable soup (substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock) or roasted garlic and artichoke soup.

Once the little plates have been cleared, it’s time to move to the entrée, which is always a point of stress for meat-eaters serving vegetarians. Many fear not having a centerpiece on their plates and eating a dinner of side dishes. Well, fear no more: meet the cauliflower steak. This is a fairly simple dish with flavor, contrasting textures, and substance. If you go this route, serve the steaks with a vibrantly green side dish, like roasted Brussels sprouts or broccoli, and a crisp Meditteranean salad (you can leave out the cheese). You can also add some zest to the main course with these harissa-spiced carrots carrots or braised artichokes. If you’re feeling antsy about lack of proteins, there’s always quinoa (although quinoa is a bit controversial). These quinoa patties would add heftiness to the plate, but make sure to switch out the breadcrumbs for matza meal and leave out the feta if you’re looking for something pareve. Also keep in mind that cumin is considered kitnyot, so if you don’t eat kitnyot during Passover you could omit it or consider using turmeric or paprika.

As for dessert, you really can’t go wrong with lemon meringues and fresh berries. Just ditch the lemon curd out of the recipe if you want it dairy free. If you are looking to please vegan guests there is always a lot of fun to be had with truffles.

The truth is, I wouldn’t even wait for Passover to eat this meal!


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Vegetarian Seder, Seder, Passover2 2013

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.