This super easy plate of Apple Nachos is perfect for Tu BiShvat! You can add many of The Seven Sacred Foods (Shivat HaMinim) mentioned in Deuteronomy / Devarim chapter 8 in the Torah. It also makes a great snack any other time of year.
These days, most people consider barley—if they consider it at all—as something wintery, perhaps sharing space with mushrooms in a warming bowl of soup. Here, this ancient whole grain gets the tabbouleh treatment, and becomes a significant salad loaded with herbs (and love—see Proverbs). Nice as part of a biblical mezze (Middle Eastern tapas, if you will), served alongside a blob of hummus and flatbread or with roasted eggplant, it’s just right for spring. Tahini is an extremely luscious sesame paste, available in Middle Eastern groceries, natural food stores, and most supermarkets. Like natural (preservative-free) peanut butter, tahini tends to separate, with the oil floating to the top of the sesame goodness below. Stir well before using.
You need not wait for a holiday—or be Jewish—to enjoy carrot and sweet potato tzimmes. It’s a festive dish for any cool-weather occasion.
In Yiddish, “tzimmes” means a big fuss or commotion. Fortunately, this mélange of sweet vegetables and dried fruits is not much of a fuss to make, and is a traditional side dish for the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Passover.
An article in Jewish Food Experience details the origins of tzimmes, stating, “A traditional side dish for Rosh Hashanah, the sweet compote of carrot circles, like golden coins, represents a wish for a sweet and prosperous year. The first-known use of the Yiddish name tzimmes is from 1892, and it is said to have originated from the German zuomuose, or ‘side dish.’”
Carrots are one of the most commonly used of symbolic foods in Eastern European meals. The Yiddish word for carrot also means to increase or multiply—a positive wish for prosperity and luck to bring to the table. In this classic Jewish dish, carrots are combined with sweet potatoes and prunes, adding bright color to the table and plate.
Recipe adapted from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas.
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.
Thanks to the magic of nature’s candy, there’s plenty of rich, sweet flavor in the filling to make up for any of matzah’s shortcomings. Bolstered by the warmth of ground cinnamon and dark brown sugar, it turns into a crisp, downright buttery streusel to cap off the tender berry jumble. Served warm with perhaps a scoop of ice cream melting luxuriously into all the cevasses, or a soft dollop of whipped coconut cream melding into each layer, there are few desserts more comforting.
Matzo Brei is a classic Jewish frittata-like breakfast food often eaten at Passover. In this vegan version, soft, savory chickpea “eggs” flecked with mushrooms and rosemary contrast deliciously with shards of crispy, slightly charred matzah crackers. It’s comfort food through and through. Also a soy-free, nut-free recipe, can be gluten-free.