Apple Nachos for Tu BiShvat

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.

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.

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.

Juicy, tender, and satisfying, this vegan brisket is a perfect dinner or holiday centerpiece. Slow roasted so it’s fork-tender, this seitan brisket will have vegans and non-vegans raving. An Instant Pot is NOT required for the first half of the cooking process–you can steam it on your stovetop, but an Instant Pot saves time.

This is easy, satisfying comfort food. Kasha is buckwheat or groats, and varnishkes is Yiddish and means (or some will argue it only implies) bow-tie pasta. It’s traditionally made with schmaltz, but this version is vegan and totally delicious.

The past few Passovers I just skipped it but this year I wanted to make a vegan version of Gefilte fisha version without the cruelty and death, without the cold tastelessness and slime. And I wanted it to look like the original and taste like fish (but better).

This is the recipe I came up with. It’s made with chickpeas and sautéed vegetables. The fish flavor comes from the seasoningkelp and dulce flakes (if you don’t have both you can just use whichever you have), Old Bay, and lemon. They look just like Gefilte fish, the texture is spot on and they taste like a much yummier version of the original “treat.” I’m so glad my Vegan Gefilte “Fish” will grace my seder table this year. Happy Passover and Enjoy!

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.

Seven vegetable couscous is a colorful dish traditional to the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah), but you need not save it for special occasions only.

Rosh Hashanah is more than a New Year’s celebration. The holiday’s ancient roots are as a harvest festival, and enjoyment of the abundant produce of early autumn remains central to the celebration. The foods served emphasize the holiday’s optimistic spirit.

Though it’s a joyous time, Rosh Hashanah is also the first of the Ten Days of Awe, a period of spiritual reflection and repentance that culminates in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

Symbolic foods for the holiday: As with almost every sacred and ancient celebration, food plays a central role and is filled with symbolism for Rosh Hashanah. When making challah bread, for example, the baker might pinch off a bit of dough and burn it in the oven as a symbolic sacrifice.

Seven is a lucky number in Jewish tradition. So a dish featuring seven vegetables, like this one, is a New Year favorite among Sephardic Jews.

Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients. This recipe is as easy as can be. Recipe adapted from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas.

Sweet noodle kugel, the Jewish classic, is made dairy free, but it’s just as luscious as the original. Noodle kugel, a staple Eastern European comfort food, is a cross between a side dish and a dessert — a rich, substantial one at that.

Noodle kugel is often served at holidays and is especially appropriate for the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah), when sweet foods are favored.

What’s a kugel? Basically defined, a kugel is simply a casserole. In the Jewish tradition, one that’s built around a specific food, like this one featuring noodles. Another famous one is potato kugel, and we’ve got a recipe for that one, too.

The traditional recipe for noodle kugel features egg noodles bathed in lots of dairy (in the form of cottage cheese, cream cheese, farmer’s cheese, or a combination). Often, eggs and lots of butter are part of the mix, adding up to a crescendo of cholesterol.

This vegan version proves that it doesn’t have to be that way. It tastes just as decadent, with less fat and no cholesterol. Your bubbe might think it’s weird to make lokschen kugel with silken tofu, but once she tastes it, she’ll kvell. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky, Bittersweet Blog.