Vegan Egg Salad

“So what food do you miss most from your non-vegan days?”

I’ve been vegan for close to eight years now, and I legit still get asked this question on almost a weekly basis. And my answer is always, unwaveringly, the same: eggs.

I always thought cheese was going to be the hardest thing for me to give up, but there are so many really good artisan vegan cheeses available now that I *almost* don’t miss the real thing. (I say almost because let’s face it, there’s just something about cheese…but I’m totally good now living in a dairy-free cheese world.) Eggs however, are a different story. I leaned toward vegetarian for many years before going vegan, and eggs were a big protein source for me. (And also, I’m a HUGE breakfast-for-any-meal kind of person, so there’s that too…)

Vegan food in general has come a long, long way. Beyond Meat and Beyond Sausage revolutionized the plant-based meat world; countless artisan cheese-makers have changed the playing field (for the better) for dairy-free cheese consumption; plant-based milks are as ubiquitous as their non-vegan counterparts, and there have even been remarkable developments in the vegan egg world thanks to Earth Island/Follow Your Heart and JustForAll, but both are still quite new, quite expensive, and not readily available, especially in Canada.

Growing up, I loved egg salad. My step-dad had this old family recipe for the best egg salad sandwich ever and he passed it down to me when I was barely a teenager, and I made it for years. It was a staple in my house growing up, especially since he was the one who packed my school lunches every day. And I’m convinced to this day that his is the best egg salad ever. So if I was going re-create this vegan-style, it was his recipe I was going to use for inspiration. His secret ingredient was a bit of celery salt. I truly think it adds something next-level to the dish. (If you don’t have celery salt, you can use dill and a bit of kosher salt.)

Last week I had the pleasure of being interviewed on Calling All Vegans with Sue Spahr and Alec Bosse, and we had a serious conversation about egg salad (Sue’s most favorite non-vegan thing ever was egg salad and she’s a little obsessed with finding the perfect vegan version.) I’ve been promising her mine for a while now, and since I’m sharing it with her, I figured I’d share it with y’all too.

I use extra-firm tofu for my “egg” salad, but if you’re avoiding soy, you could use mashed chickpeas as well (or a mix of the two just to shake things up a bit). Because I use chickpeas for my “toona” salad, I don’t use them here. I often serve both salads at the same time (hello brunch!) so I find it a bit repetitive. The trick to getting this to emulate real egg salad is to use the large shredding side of a box grater that would typically be used for shredding cheese (that’s how my step-dad always grated his eggs for salad). You want to use extra-firm tofu and press as much water out of it as you can, otherwise your “egg” salad ends up runny.

I’m also a huge green onion fan and I use them quite liberally in my egg salad. But if you’re not so into green, you could use red onion, or skip them all together and add some diced celery for crunch and texture.

So grab a bagel or good whole wheat bread and some lettuce because “egg” salad is back – vegan style!

Vegan Egg Salad

Ingredients:

1 block extra firm tofu, drained and pressed

2 green onions, sliced in half lengthwise, then diced

3-4 tbsp vegan mayonnaise

2 tsp ball park mustard

2 tsp sweet relish

¼ tsp celery salt

¼ tsp kosher salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

Directions:

In a large bowl, grate tofu using the large shredding side of a box grater.

Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Refrigerate for minimum 30 minutes before serving to allow flavors to blend.

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Sweet Potato “Hummus” Dip

So I really want to call this “hummus”, but with a very noticeable lack of chick peas (the traditional ingredient in hummus), it clearly isn’t, so we’re going to stick with Sweet Potato Dip. But make no mistake, it is designed to mimic hummus in every way, from the garlic and sesame paste, to the lemon and paprika – it’s a hummus makeover.

I created this dip for my hubby, who has an intolerance for chick peas. Not an I-don’t-like-them kind of intolerance, but a physical my-body-cannot-eat-these intolerance. He struggles with an almost-allergic reaction to legumes in general, and I’m always looking for ways to re-create legume or bean-based dishes for him.

Fortunately, he loves sweet potato, and because sweet potatoes have a mild flavor that works well with both sweet and savory spices, and super-creamy consistency, they work well as a bean substitute in dips.

This dish works well both with or without oil, so you’re all good if oil-free is your thing. My hubby even prefers it that way. It’s a little more thick without the oil, but the flavor is 100% on point. Adding oil to the recipe will give it more of that smoothness of hummus.

So bust out all the fresh veggies, crackers and chips – your new summer dip is here!

Sweet Potato “Hummus” Dip

Ingredients:

4 medium sweet potatoes

1/4 cup tahini

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tbsp onion powder

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

sriracha (to taste)

2-4 tbsp olive oil

Directions

Poke holes through sweet potatoes and microwave until cooked through (about 18-20 minutes depending on your microwave). Slice open and allow to cool. Peel skins off and put flesh into food processor.

Add remaining ingredients (except oil) to food processor and process until smooth. Stream in oil (if using), until combined.

Refrigerate for minimum one hour before serving.

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Red Pepper & Smoked Gouda Bisque

It’s May…the middle of May to be exact, and it’s cold outside. Like October or early November cold. It seems Mother Nature is a bit confused these days. We’re done with winter. We’re done with fall. We’re done with rain and cold and wind and grey skies. But yet that has been our weather forecast for the first half of this month.

I should be posting summery pasta salads and fruity desserts and drool-worthy BBQ dishes, but here I am, writing another blog post about a stick-to-your-ribs, hug-in-a-bowl kind of soup. Because damn, I’m freezing again.

There’s an interesting story behind this soup. It’s a “copycat” recipe, which is to say, a homemade (and albeit healthier) version of a favorite grocery store or restaurant dish. I created this recipe for my dad, who is pretty handy in the kitchen by his own rights, but needed some help replacing a now-discontinued kitchen staple.

I’ll start off by saying my dad is not vegan by any stretch, but he enjoys plant-based foods (especially when I cook for him) and is open to steering away from traditional dairy and meat from time-to-time. (No joke, his favorite burger is Beyond Meat and he is hopelessly addicted to Gardein Chick’n Sliders.) Anyway, for years he has used Campbell’s Homestyle Creamy Gouda Bisque as a base for a couple of his stew recipes. However, Campbell’s recently discontinued it and he has exhausted the supply in the greater Boca Raton and Palm Beach areas of Florida, where he lives and works.

Jokingly, he said to me one night that he should try and recreate it, but he’s “not me” and couldn’t really do it. So I took it upon myself to do it for him. After having him send me pictures of the ingredient list from his last remaining can, I grabbed a pen and notebook and within 15 minutes, emailed him a recipe that provided a similar flavor profile, but using plant-based ingredients.

Now, I’ll admit that I have no idea what the canned version actually tasted like, because a) Campbell’s Homestyle brand is not available in Canada, and b) it’s not vegan so it wouldn’t be something I’d purchase anyway. But from my dad’s description of it, I had a feeling this one hit all the right notes: bright red pepper and onion, smoky, creamy gouda, a bit of heat from cajun seasoning, and thick creaminess thanks to some yukon gold potatoes.

A couple of weeks after I sent him the recipe, my stepmother tested it out and they both gave it two thumbs up. So clearly I hit the mark. What I love about this soup is that it’s velvety smooth, rich but not over-the-top indulgent, and it’s full of great flavor.

The canned version has chunks of chicken in it, and you could easily roast or saute up some Gardein or Beyond Meat lightly seasoned chick’n strips to toss into this soup once it’s cooked, but really, it works just as well without it.

So, until it warms up here in Toronto, I’ll be hunched over a steaming-hot bowl of this lusciously creamy, thick soup. Maybe someday soon I’ll get to post a summer recipe.

Red Pepper and Smoked Gouda Bisque

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp butter

1/2 large white onion, diced

1 red pepper, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 C all purpose flour

4 cups vegetable stock 

1 can coconut milk

1 tbsp tomato paste

4-5 medium size Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced

1/2 tsp each salt and pepper

2 tbsp cajun seasoning

1 cup daiya farmhouse block smoked gouda, shredded 

½ cup daiya farmhouse block old cheddar, shredded

Directions:

1. In a large stock pot, heat oil and butter on medium high heat.  Add onions and peppers and cook until soft, about 5-6 minutes.  Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute.

2. Add flour and cook for 2 min until all flour is absorbed in veggies.  Add vegetable stock,  coconut milk, tomato paste and potatoes and stir well to combine.

3.. Bring to an almost boil, then reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 10-15 min or until potatoes are soft.

4. Remove from heat; puree with a stick blender until soup is smooth.  Return to heat and stir in cajun seasoning, salt and pepper, and both cheeses.  Stir until cheese is completely melted.  Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

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Vegan Easter Creme Eggs

Is there anything more iconically “Easter” than a creme egg? I have had a love-affair with them ever since I was a little kid. Back then, they were only available at Easter so they were highly coveted and savoured. I would look forward to getting to eat a few of them every April…until my first year in college, when my Aunt somehow managed to buy a costco-size box (and I mean a box – like the 24 or 36 count ones that stores buy and then sell each egg individually) and gift it to me. Let’s just say that even after sharing it with a group of friends over a weekend, it was a good decade before I could even look at one again.

Nowadays, versions of Cadbury eggs are around longer than March and April, but the classic ones will always be thought of as an Easter treat. Which brings me to this challenge: how does a creme-egg loving girl get her fix now that she’s vegan? Easy…she creates her own!

Admittedly, it’s been about 7 or 8 years since I’ve eaten a non-vegan one, but from what I recall, this recipe is pretty darn close to the original ones. Right down to the yellow “yolk.”

While they are actually really easy to make, they are pretty much 100% sugar, so they only make an appearance once a year in our house. A couple of things to note before making these: you definitely want to get a silicone mold for them. It’s the easiest way to ensure you can get the chocolate eggs out in one piece. I used Wilton’s silicone egg mold. They are available on bothamazon.ca and amazon.com.

Second, to achieve the yellow centre, Wilton ‘golden yellow’ food coloring works really well and is free from animal products or bi-products. Vegan Chow Down provides a full list of vegan-friendly Wilton products that was obtained directly from Wilton. It’s a handy reference guide for all your decorating needs.

You only need a few drops of it, and I recommend starting out with one or two drops only. Its a very small amount of fondant that needs that yellow hue. If you aren’t a fan of food coloring, or don’t want to buy a whole jar just for one dessert, tumeric works just as well. Just be sparing with it as too much will impart an earthy, perfumy taste. About a 1/4 tsp of tumeric to 3 or 4 tbsp of fondant worked well for me.

Finally, I recommend using white or light corn syrup as the sweetener. You can use regular golden syrup but your fondant will come out a bit beige and not as bright white. I’ve used both and in no way does it affect flavour or texture, it’s merely an aesthetic thing. If you don’t have either, you can use light agave or brown rice syrup.

Once made, I keep mine in the freezer and when I want to eat one, let it sit at room temp for 5 minutes first. The fondant filling doesn’t fully freeze, and the almost crisp texture of slightly frozen chocolate against cold, creamy fondant is delicious in my opinion. Also, keeping them in the freezer keeps me from eating an entire tray at once. They will also keep well for days in the fridge too.

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Vegan Coconut Almond Macaroons

I think I’ve tested about 12 versions of vegan macaroons for this post. Seriously. For a bite-size dessert that should be really simple to make, that’s a lot of trial and error. Here’s what’s kept me up at night with this recipe: replacing the eggs. Now for most baking recipes, it’s pretty easy to replace eggs. Applesauce, flax, aquafaba, powdered egg replacers…each are perfectly acceptable substitutes and work well in specific types of baking. For instance, applesauce is a great substitute in muffins, as is flax. Aquafaba is a dream in things like brownies or even cookies, and powdered egg replacers make cake-baking a breeze. But macaroons are a different case.

They are light and delicate and unlike the other baked goods mentioned above, they have very little holding them together other than the egg binder. Most baking recipes call for flour – and a good amount of it too – along with a certain amount of liquid, and that helps hold everything together. Its like the base of each recipe. Macaroons rely on shredded or desiccated coconut (desiccated coconut is a drier and more finely ground version of coconut than its shredded counterpart), and coconut is not very binding. (Which led me to another revelation: macaroons NEED some sort of flour. Almond or coconut – or even all purpose if you’re not making these for passover. Asking shreds of coconut to stick together with nothing but a bit of liquid is a tall task.)

The other thing about coconut macaroons is that they are very distinctly coconut flavored. And egg whites (which are typically used in macaroons) are very neutral in that they don’t impart flavor. So I needed something neutral – or something coconut.

I’ve read a lot on the internet about using aquafaba for macaroons. I’m a huge fan of aquafaba, so I tried it. I tried it whipped, whipped with sugar, whipped with cream of tartar, whipped with both sugar and cream of tartar. Then I tried it straight out of the can. I tried it with a little bit, and with a lot. And after all that trying I have to say, I’m not sold on it. While aquafaba has worked well for me in the past in recipes like my super-chewy fudgy brownies, they just didn’t cut it here. In my experiments, aquafaba either didn’t bind the coconut mix together enough, leaving it very crumbly to the touch, or it made the mix too wet and mushy after being baked.

So I had a thought: if it’s coconut macaroons I’m making, and I want real coconut flavor, what about coconut milk? It’s thick, rich, binds well with flour and is full of coconut flavor. The trick (as I learned through a few test runs), is to be very careful about the amount. Too much coconut milk will leave the macaroons very wet and keep them from getting that golden, toasted crust. But the right amount (which for this recipe is 1 cup), combined with shredded coconut and almond flour, creates the perfect tender-chewy macaroon cookie. Finally!

To get your macaroons perfectly chewy on the outside and soft but not under-baked on the inside, use a 1 inch or 1.5 inch cookie scoop packed really well for each macaroon. Packing them keeps the cookies’s shape and the small size helps them bake evenly and thoroughly. Trust me on this…I put every size cookie scoop I own to the test on this one.

So there you have it: the perfect little vegan coconut almond macaroon. With a chocolate drizzle to top it off, because why not?

Vegan Coconut Almond Macaroons

Ingredients:

3 cups shredded or desiccated coconut

1 cup coconut milk (full fat, not light)

1/3 – 1/2 cup almond flour

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup liquid sweetener of choice (I used #NoBees vegan honey, but agave or maple syrup works just as well)

1/4 cup sliced almonds

pinch of kosher salt

1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine coconut, coconut milk, 1/3 cup almond flour, almond and vanilla extract, sweetener of choice, sliced almonds and salt.  Stir well to combine.  Let sit for 5 minutes for mix to absorb coconut milk.

If after 5 minutes, the mix is a bit too liquid, add 2 more tablespoons of almond flour and mix well. 

Using a small (1 inch or 1.5 inch) ice cream scoop,  pack scoopfuls of dough really well and place gently onto lined baking sheet.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bottoms are golden and tops are lightly toasted.  Cool completely on rack.

Transfer to wire rack (with a lined baking sheet underneath to catch drippings).  Melt chocolate in the microwave in :30 increments, stirring after each interval, until melted.  Stir in coconut oil (this will make the chocolate shiny and easier to drizzle).

Using a spoon, or squeeze bottle if you have one, drizzle chocolate over macaroons and allow to set.

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Spanish Quinoa and Peppers (GF)

So I’m going to start off by saying this isn’t a traditional Passover dish. But I’ve come to learn over the years – especially since adopting a plant-based lifestyle, that traditions aren’t written in stone. They are made by those you share them with, and sharing good dishes (whether time-tested or brand new) always make for good traditions.

Our Passover Seder table has changed dramatically over the years. Older generations have passed, giving way to new Matriarchs and Patriarchs at the head of the table. Many little ones have been added to the family (and lengthened our table exponentially), and our menus and tastes (and in some cases, dietary restrictions) have changed.

While I’ve loved getting the chance to recreate the classic dishes of my heritage, I’m also really excited about creating and sharing new dishes as well. Dishes that are cleaner, healthier, more inclusive, and of course – delicious!

This dish is inspired by a quinoa dish shared with me online, and a recipe that my hubby made for Passover a few years ago. I’ve played around with both and come up with this new dish that is bright, full of flavor and color and since it’s both vegan and gluten free, very inclusive. It’s very similar to risotto in that it cooks the same way, slow and low, incorporating and absorbing broth in small amounts until a deep, rich flavor is achieved. I’m hoping it becomes a new Passover tradition for us.

Spanish Quinoa and Peppers

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large sweet onion, diced

2 stalks green onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 tsp salt, divided in half

1 celery stalk, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 orange bell pepper diced

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

2 tbsp tomato paste

2 cups green beans, cut

1 ½ cups uncooked quinoa

1 tsp paprika

¼ tsp black pepper

½ cup good white wine (optional)

3 cups vegetable broth

1 vegetable bouillon cube

½ cup water

Chopped parsley (for garnish)

Lemon wedges (for garnish)

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a deep frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add onions and green onions and and saute until soft – about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds. Add diced celery and peppers and ½ tsp salt and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often.

Add tomato paste and green beans, and cook another 2 minutes.

Add quinoa, paprika, remaining ½ tsp salt, pepper and saute with vegetables for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, so that the quinoa is incorporated into the dish. Add wine (if using) and 1 cup of vegetable broth and bouillon cube and bring to a boil.  Immediately reduce heat to low; simmer uncovered for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, and adding another cup of broth as each previous cup is absorbed into the dish. While simmering, preheat oven to 375F.

Transfer contents of pan into a 9×13 baking dish.  Add ½ cup water evenly over the mix and bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven; sprinkle with chopped parsley and squeeze one lemon wedge over the paella. Place remaining lemon wedges in the dish for garnish and use.  Serve immediately.


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Not Your Mom’s Passover Brisket

If you celebrate any Jewish holidays, or even Shabbat dinner, it’s pretty much a given that you are familiar with the ubiquitous beef brisket that your mom learned to make from her mom (who learned to make it from her mom…) After all, it’s pretty much required eating at the Seder table…and for days afterwards. But what do vegans eat while Aunt Harriet and Uncle Max are passing around the brisket plate?

Whether you’ve adopted a plant-based lifestyle for ethical reasons, or for your health, it can be hard to be around your old pre-vegan faves. My husband was a huge brisket guy back in the day. Since going vegan, it wasn’t something he thought about much on a day-to-day basis, but at the holidays he’d get that wistful look and feel a bit nostalgic for the comfort food of his youth. This recipe changed all that. When you think of brisket (or any meat really), it’s the seasoning and sauce that give the dish its flavor. And adding BIG seasoning to a seitan roast created the same robust flavors my husband had grown up with.

The basis for most Bubbies’ Seder Brisket is french onion soup mix, and thankfully, Lipton’s is accidentally vegan and perfect for adding intense flavor. And just like Bubbie’s brisket, this one makes killer sandwiches the next day.

Bubbie’s French Onion Style Brisket

Dry ingredients:

2 cups Vital Wheat Gluten (I use Bob’s Red Mill brand)

¼ cup nutritional yeast

2 tbsp onion powder

1 tbsp garlic powder

Sauce ingredients:

2 packets of Lipton onion soup mix

1 1/2 cups water

1 cup  ketchup

1 tsp brown sugar

4 cloves minced garlic

1 tsp black pepper

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking dish with oil.

1. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and set aside.

2. In another bowl, combine all sauce ingredients, except onion slices.

3. Add  1 cup of sauce to your dry ingredients and mix to form a dough.  If the dough seems a bit dry, add more sauce ½ cup at a time, until dough forms but is not too wet.   Knead the dough for 3 full minutes.

4. Stretch dough out so that it is approx. 1 inch thick.  

5. Place in baking dish and top with sliced onions and baste with a bit more liquid. Also add 1 cup of sauce to the pan.

6.  Bake for 20 minutes; rotate the brisket and bake an additional 20 min.  Continue to bake for 1.5 – 2 hours, turning (not flipping) the brisket in the dish every 20 min.  The liquid in the casserole dish should thicken into a sauce, but keep an eye that the pan doesn’t dry out.  Add more liquid to the pan (and baste the brisket lightly) every time you rotate it.

Brisket is done when it is firm to the touch.   Allow to cool slightly then transfer to a board to rest.  Eat right away or wrap in foil and a freezer bag and store in the fridge to firm up.  Transfer the pan sauce and remaining liquid into a pan and reduce to make a gravy (add flour to thicken if needed). Store any unused sauce for reheating.

To reheat the brisket, place brisket in an oven-safe dish, add leftover sauce and warm at 375F for about 20 min or until warm.


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Vegan Matzoh Ball Soup

Ahh, matzoh ball soup. Bubbie’s specialty, and guaranteed to cure what ails you. It’s the Jewish form of penicillin. Got a cold? Upset stomach? Sad about something? Bubbie’s on her way over with soup. For many, it’s a Friday night Shabbat staple. For others, it’s regular comfort food oncold winter nights, or in the middle of a bad cold or flu. And for some, it comes out twice a year at the holidays.

We hover somewhere between option 2 and 3. We don’t often make it outside the holidays, but if we do, it’s because its about a thousand degrees below zero outside and at least one of us is sick. However, I’m sharing this now because Passover is just around the corner, which means we’re prepping our semi-annual soupfest. Seriously, our seder usually consists of 20+ people per night, times two nights. That’s a lot of soup (and a lot of matzoh balls. More on them here.)

Traditionally, matzoh ball soup is made from chicken. In other words, it’s chicken soup…but with “bubbie magic” weaved into it. Knowing my bubbie, it was probably the schmultz.

My husband is the holiday soup guy around here. His chicken soup rivaled that of any bubbie on the block, and it has always been the tradition that he makes matzoh ball soup at the holidays. And every single one of us looks forward to it. It’s one of the biggest highlights of the night.

So, how do you veganize that? How do you get that “old world’ flavor of traditional chicken matzoh ball soup without the chicken? Well, it turns out you don’t really need the chicken to make great soup. Hubby took his classic chicken soup recipe and pumped up the veggies for even more flavor, and played around with different types of vegetable bases, powders and bouillons to add the richness this soup needs. His secret to amazing soup that tastes like the old days? McCormick Gourmet all-vegetable chicken-flavored bouillon cubes. They are fantastic. Deep, salty, rich “chicken-soup-like” flavor, but from plants. And while these little cubes of goodness are readily available at most grocery chains, don’t fret if you can’t find it – any good vegetable or faux chicken bouillon will do.

This soup (like Bubbie’s original version), is amazing when made a day or two ahead and allowed to sit in the fridge so all the flavors can party and amp it up. Also, it means less work for you the day of the Seder! If you do make it ahead, just remove it from the fridge and scrape off any top layer of fat that may have separated, then pour it back into a pot and reheat slowly on low heat for about 20 minutes before serving.

I like my matzoh ball soup with tons of carrots, so we always save those and add them back into the soup. But if you’re a fan of clear soup, strain out the veggies at the end and save them for a pot pie! Like this homestyle “chicken” pot pie on my website.

Vegan Matzoh Ball Soup

Ingredients:

3 large onions, cut in quarters

2 x 5 lb bags of carrots, peeled and roughly cut

2 bunches of celery, tops and bottoms removed, roughly chopped

4 parsnips, peeled and roughly cut

2 whole bulbs of garlic, peeled and each clove slightly smashed

2 bunches each of fresh flat leaf parsley and dill, stems trimmed, wrapped in cheesecloth and tied with butcher’s twine

2 cubes Vegan chicken bouillon or bouillon paste

Directions:

In a very large stock pot, add onions, carrots, celery, parsnips and garlic and toss to combine.

Fill pot with water until vegetables are just about submerged. Add fresh herb pouch and press to submerge it in the water.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1.5 hours.  At the 1 hour mark, add 2 bouillon cubes or spoons of paste and simmer for 30 minutes.

Check broth and adjust for taste, adding another cube or spoon of paste if needed. Adjust salt and pepper at this time as well. Simmer another 10 minutes.

Strain, reserving soup into another large pot, and save vegetables for a kick-A** pot pie!

Reheat soup on low heat for 20 minutes before serving.

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Passover Seder Starters: Gefilte “Fish”

It’s officially spring, at least according to the calendar. Looking out my front window at more snow, I’m not so sure. I’m hopeful this is Mother Nature’s one last gasp at winter, and that warmer weather will be upon us soon!

The start of spring also means holiday prep. It’s the season of egg-shaped chocolates for some, and matzoh and wine for others – or for us, a little mix of both! Passover is a couple of weeks away and meal prep for the evening Seders are well under way. Our families still do Seders pretty much the same way we did as kids, and pretty much nothing about those Seders was/is vegan, so we’ve been slowly creating new traditions (and dishes) every year to adapt to our plant-based lifestyle.

Gefilte fish is a staple at almost every Jewish holiday table, and it’s a real dividing point too. Kind of like cilantro, people either love or hate gefilte fish…there’s no middle road. A traditional appetizer served in many Ashkenazi Jewish households, traditional gefilte fish is a patty made from mix of three types of fish (usually carp, pike and whitefish), that is poached and served chilled.

It’s been close to a decade since I’ve had this dish, but every Passover I feel the familiar tug when I see it on the table. So, in keeping with my motto of “anything you can make, I can make vegan”, I decided to try my hand at veganizing this. Partially because I wanted to see if it could be done, and partially because my Dad joked that I couldn’t. Oh Dad, you should know better. After all, I got my stubborn streak from you!

Much like my vegan version of tuna salad, salmon patties, and just about anything else “fishy” I’ve recreated, I reached for a can of chick peas and some kelp, and got to work. What I really like about this dish – aside from the fact that it doesn’t involve fish – is that it’s pretty simple to make. A bit of prep work and some upfront sauteeing and then the rest is up to the fridge. Because the food processor does the brunt of the work here, prep on the veggies for this dish is pretty simple. Small chops will do, no need for precise dicing.

This recipe is for “sweet” gefilte fish. If you’re a fan of the salt & pepper version, swap out the sugar in this recipe for salt and pepper. I’d start with a 1/4 tsp of each and add more to taste.

Vegan Gefilte Fish

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

½ small onion, chopped

2 medium size stalks celery, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

2 garlic cloved, chopped

1 19oz can chick peas, drained and rinsed

1 tsp old bay sesasoning

1.5 tsp dulce flakes

1 tsp kelp flakes

1 tsp lemon zest

1 tbsp white sugar

1/3 cup matzo meal

Directions:

In a deep pan, heat oil on medium high heat.  Add onions, celery and carrot and cook until soft and translucent, about 7-10 minutes.  Add garlic and cook an additional minute, stirring constantly to keep garlic from burning. 

Add chickpeas, old bay, dulce, kelp, lemon zest and sugar and stir to combine.  Cook until chick peas are warmed through – about 2 minutes.

Remove from heat and transfer mix to a food processor fitted with the S blade. Pulse, then process until smooth.  Add matzo meal and pulse until combined.

Using a 1/3 cup dry measure, scoop mixture and shape into footballs.  Place footballs on a wax-paper lined dish.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve – at least 3 hours prior to dinner.  (the longer they sit, the better they hold their shape)

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Vegan Matzoh Balls

First off, let’s establish right away that I am – and always have been a “sinkers” girl. Chewy, dense, sink-to-the-bottom-of-the-bowl matzoh balls have always been my jam. I’m not even sure I know how to make a “floater” matzoh ball. (Okay, I probably do, but we won’t dwell on that.) They aren’t true matzoh balls to me.

Matzoh balls are one of the greatest pain-in-the-neck dishes to make. It’s not that they are particularly hard to make, its just that our family is so crazy for them that we make about 150 or so at a time, hence the pain-in-the-neck part. We only make them twice a year though, (Passover and Rosh Hashanah) so it’s totally worth it.

I remember our first Passover after going vegan. The whole “vegan” thing was new to us and we were still figuring our way through this. There weren’t nearly as many vegan alternatives in stores, and we hadn’t discovered many of the vegan hacks yet that we’ve become so accustomed to using. In particular, I hadn’t yet figured out all the different ways to replace eggs as a binder, and was completely stumped on how to replace them in a matzoh ball. So we didn’t have matzoh balls or soup that year. And it was a pretty sad night for us. After the Seder plates were cleared and last of the Haggadah were packed away for next year, we vowed to spend the next six months figuring out just how to veganize this very important part of our heritage.

In our pre-vegan days, I was the matzoh ball queen, slinging out these perfect spheres of salty, chewy deliciousness by the dozens. My husband – he’s the soup guy. His chicken soup rivaled that of any bubbie on the block. Together, we were the holiday A-Team. And this newly-vegan team wasn’t going down without a fight.

First we tackled the soup. Turns out you don’t really need the chicken to make great soup. Hubby took his classic chicken soup recipe and pumped up the veggies for even more flavor, and played around with different types of vegetable bases, powders and bouillons to add the richness this soup needs. Our secret to amazing soup that tastes like the old days? McCormick Gourmet all-vegetable chicken-flavored bouillon cubes. For the complete vegan “chicken” soup recipe, click here.

Now, down to the matzoh balls. I’m not sure exactly how this happened, but the rollin’ and slingin’ tradition of matzoh ball making is now my husband’s task. He took it upon himself one year to research vegan matzoh ball methods and to test all of them. He rolled, boiled and baked his way through many vegan variations, while I sat back and played the taste-tester game. It was a fun switch from how things usually go in our kitchen!

He got close on flavor, but always fell apart on consistency. Seems we couldn’t crack the secret to keeping the balls in shape once they were cooked or reheated in soup. Until one day, while conducting more internet research he stumbled upon the key: potato starch. It’s the perfect binder to replace eggs, it doesn’t impart any weird flavor (it has no flavor at all), and it’s super easy to find at your local grocery store. And the ultimate vegan matzoh balls were born!

Dense, chewy, salty and delicious, just like bubbie would make, but without the schmaltz!

This recipe yields approximately 35-40 matzoh balls. I’ve scaled down the original recipe (which yields approx 150 balls).

Vegan Matzoh Balls

4.5 cups matzo meal

1 cup + 2 tbsp vegetable oil

4.5 cups water

1 scant cup potato starch

2 ¼ tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

¼ tsp garlic powder

¼ – ½ tsp ground black pepper

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.  Refrigerate for 60 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.

Using a 2” ice cream scoop, scoop out dough and roll into balls. Gently place matzoh balls into boiling water and simmer for 20-25 minutes.  

Using a slotted spoon, remove cooked matzoh balls from water and cool on counter completely. Refrigerate until served.

To serve, add to soup 20 minutes before serving and allow them to warm gently as the soup does.

[sp_recipe]