Vegan Cholent

by Nava Atlas
A small gray bowl of orange vegetables and grains on top of a large gray plate with a red napkin and bronze fork.

Vegan cholent might seem like a stretch, but why not? With seitan or other plant-based beefy protein standing in for the real thing used in the original classic Jewish recipe, it’s a warming, hearty dish that’s easy to adapt to plant-based. This updated version of a Jewish classic can be considered an early predecessor to slow-cooker recipes. In its original form, it’s put in the oven before the Sabbath and cooked at a very low temperature for about 12 hours so that it can be eaten for the Sabbath midday or late afternoon meal. It’s a rare Eastern European Jewish recipe highlighting beans, and makes a hefty portion. Vegan cholent is perfect for company or holiday meals (especially Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year); you can also freeze it in portions for future use. For a smaller family, or for two, cut the recipe in half. And if you do want to try this in a slow cooker, see tips below. If you’d like a bit of history, read about the original (that is, non-vegan) cholent recipe. Interesting note—there’s a Sephardic cousin to this recipe called hamin or dafina. Adapted from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas.


Ingredients

¾ cup pearl barley
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 + ½ to 2 pounds seitan (see Notes), cut into bite-sized pieces
4 medium white or gold potatoes, peeled and diced
3 to 4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup dry vegan red wine (Check Barnivore for vegan options.)
3 to 3 + ½ cups cooked small red beans, or two 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon Spanish (smoked) paprika or cayenne pepper, or to taste
cup minced fresh parsley
Salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste


Instructions
  1. Combine the barley in a saucepan with 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a gentle boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer until the water is absorbed, about 25 minutes. This won’t cook the barley completely, but will give it a head start as it’s added to the stew.
  2. Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and seitan. Continue to sauté over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the seitan begins to brown lightly.
  3. Add the barley, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, wine, and 4 cups water. Bring to a gentle boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the beans and paprika. Cook over the lowest heat possible, stirring occasionally, for about an hour, or until the barley and vegetables are tender and the flavors well married. Add more water as needed to keep moist; this should be thick and stew-like, rather than soupy.
  5. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Cook over very low heat for 5 minutes longer. If time allows, let this stand off the heat for an hour or two before serving to further develop flavor, then heat through gently. Otherwise, serve at once.

Notes
  1. For instructions on cooking this recipe in a slow cooker, view this recipe on Nava’s website.
  2. Store bought seitan will work just fine for this recipe, but if you’d like to make your own , try this vegan beef seitan.
  3. Find more of Nava’s recipes at The Vegan Atlas and follow her on Facebook and on Instagram.

Apple Nachos for Tu BiShvat This super easy plate of Apple Nachos is perfect for Tu BiShvat! You can add many of The Seven... Appetizer
A black bowl featuring barley, kalamata olives, and lots of green herbs.
Biblical Barley and Herb Salad These days, most people consider barley—if they consider it at all—as something wintery, perhaps sharing space with mushrooms in... Side
Seven Species Muffins These muffins are a great not-too-sweet treat for your Tu BiShvat celebration as they contain all seven species mentioned... Breakfast
Tu BiShvat Vegan Challah with Dried Fruit This vegan braided challah is filled with dried fruit like dates, figs, apricots, toasted walnut and orange zest. It... Appetizer
Vegan Carrot & Sweet Potato Latkes This latke combines Jewish tradition with Indian, as it is inspired by the Indian pakora snack. Appetizer
Golden Tumeric Cake This vegan Golden Turmeric Cake is moist, just dense enough, and has the perfect sweetness level. It has a... Dessert
A large white bowl with bulgur, tomatoes, cucumber, and parsley mixed together next to a black napkin with a white leaf design.
Tabouli / Tabbouleh This super fresh herb and bulgur Mediterranean salad is the perfect snack, side, or even meal when paired with... Side
Vegan Gondi (Chickpea Dumpling Stew) Vegan Gondi, Chickpea Dumpling Stew, is a Persian-Jewish Shabbat hors d’oeuvres. It is typically made with chicken, however, it... Appetizer
A white ceramic baking dish filled with cooked carrots, sweet potatoes, and dried fruit on a gold floral tablecloth surrounded by white plates and silver forks.
Carrot and Sweet Potato Tzimmes You need not wait for a holiday—or be Jewish—to enjoy carrot and sweet potato tzimmes. It’s a festive dish... Side
A small gray bowl of orange vegetables and grains on top of a large gray plate with a red napkin and bronze fork.
Vegan Cholent Vegan cholent might seem like a stretch, but why not? With seitan or other plant-based beefy protein standing in... Main
A black bowl featuring brown seitan stew. A yellow napkin and silver spoon are situated in the background on a dark wood table.
Seitan Porcini Stew This is a recipe that not only comforts you on a cold winter’s night, it makes you look forward... Main
A square brown platter topped with sufganiyot--raspberry jelly filled donuts topped with powdered sugar, all on a red tablecloth.
Mayim Bialik’s Sufganiyot A lovely, easy and fun to make treat for Chanukah! These doughnuts are best when served immediately, but they... Dessert