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 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.

This simple, fast, and easy chopped salad is the perfect side for any time of year. Also sometimes referred to as Israeli salad or Middle Eastern salad, it’s a classic that goes with any meal.

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.

Baba ghanouj originates from Lebanon and is pronounced as ba-ba gha-noosh (or nooj) in Arabic. Baba ghanouj is also known as baba ganoush, bab ganouj or baba ganousche. It is written as بابا غنوج in Arabic.

The word baba means daddy and the word ghanouj means spoilt. So this is a spoilt daddy dip, haha.

It’s the dried mint in this very creamy and luxurious Baba Ghanouj recipe that makes this Lebanese eggplant dip taste even more spectacular.

A couple of my Lebanese friends even commented how wonderful it is as their family usually make it without. My Lebanese family wins!

This recipe is from my Mother’s recipe index, there are a couple of variations she has passed to me;

smokey
boiled
baked
with garlic, or without
with mint or without, but mostly with.
Whichever way baba ghanouj is made, this authentic Lebanese eggplant dip (or aubergine dip) is a great side dish for any mezze or meal.

When serving baba ganoush, it is always topped with a good glug of extra virgin olive oil.

Beet borscht, a gorgeous soup of Eastern European origin, is filled with summer-to fall produce and is as good (maybe better) served chilled as it is hot. Honestly, you can make borscht year round.

If it weren’t for the fact that it’s a bit messy to make, I’d have it regularly. As it is, I most enjoy it on special occasions, such as Rosh HaShanah (the Jewish New Year). It’s actually a favorite on this holiday for its subtle sweetness.

A Russian proverb says, “Borscht and bread will make your cheeks red.” Serve this with slices of fresh vegan challah and see if it’s true. I don’t recommend making this soup unless you have a food processor with a grating blade. Of course, you could do this with a hand grater, but you may never forgive me.

What am I, chopped liver? Fortunately, no. Made of onions, mushrooms, and cashews, vegan mock chopped liver has replaced the classic Jewish pâté as a contemporary appetizer for special occasions.

This plant-based look-alike (though not taste-alike) is often served as a Passover appetizer with matzo or matzo crackers. You can serve it with raw vegetables, too.

A sister recipe: A similar, now-classic recipe is made with green beans or peas. In the Ashkenazi tradition, green beans and peas aren’t allowed foods during the Passover week. But if it’s not Passover, or you don’t strictly adhere to the chametz rules, feel free to replace the mushrooms with an equivalent amount of steamed fresh or frozen green beans.

Of course, you need not wait for a holiday, or to be Jewish, to make this delicious spread. It’s welcome all year round. This recipe makes about 2 cups.

Matzo brei is a kind of flat omelet that’s a classic breakfast during Passover week and beyond. This recipe will show you how to make a vegan matzo brei, without the customary eggs. It’s easiest to make this one serving at a time in a small skillet; for more servings, repeat the recipe as needed.

Basically, matzo brei consists of broken matzah that’s softened with hot water, then mixed with scrambled egg and fried. Not exactly your powerhouse breakfast — after all, matzah isn’t exactly a super food — it’s one of those Eastern European specialties that’s suffused with nostalgia. Here we replace the egg, easily and cleverly!

A trio of egg substitutes: I give you three choices for the egg substitute that will hold the matzo brei together. Two of the options—oats (which are hametz) and garbanzo (chickpea) flour (legumes are kitniyot) are ingredients that aren’t allowable foods during the Passover week for those who adhere strictly.

Sephardic tradition still allows legumes and some other kitniyot during Passover week. Some Ashkenazi traditions have started to allow kitniyot, too. If you’re fine with that, go ahead and try this with garbanzo flour.

Quinoa flakes, as a derivative of the relatively recently allowable food, quinoa, is the most Passover-friendly option. That’s my favorite “glue” for my Vegan Matzah Balls.

If you adhere to Passover food rules, you can always wait until after the holiday week to make matzo brei. Like most everyone else who celebrates, you’ll likely have plenty of leftover matzah to use up.

Make sure to explore the variations: Often, matzo brei is enjoyed just as is; straight from the pan, lightly salted. Incorporating a little bit of fruit into the batter (banana, apple, or pear) into the batter is a lovely touch; you can also make it savory with baby spinach or other baby greens and/or fresh herbs.

Buttery golden-brown toffee shatters on top of crisp matzah boards, smothered with a soft layer of dark chocolate. It’s an essential staple for Passover, but so addictive that you’ll want to make it all year long.

Completely nontraditional and aligned with entirely the wrong Jewish holiday, these are definitely not your Bubbie’s matzah balls. Bound together with roasted pumpkin puree, I prefer to think of them more as matzah dumplings, since they bear a denser, more toothsome texture than the fluffy pillows of Passover lore. The goal of this wintery interpretation was not to perfect the vegan matzah ball, but to create something with the same sort of comforting flavors, revamped with a more seasonal spin.

Tembleque is a popular Puerto Rican dessert that is perfect to enjoy during Passover or Shavuot.