Vegetarian + Vegan charoset

Published on April 24th, 2008 | by Sharon Troy

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Kosher (and Vegan) for Passover





charoset I have to give a lot of respect to Jews that keep Kosher, because I know how difficult it can be to stick with a restricted diet. During Passover especially, that diet becomes so limited, that some of my Jewish friends recently asked me if I thought it was possible to stay vegan during Passover. At first I thought, “No leavened bread? No problem!” but then I realized that some keep rules far more strict than that.

I learned that Ashkenazi Jews also avoid a group of foods categorized as kitiniyot which includes rice, peas, lentils, beans, and corn. (Now I know what Meredith was referring to in her recent Passover foods post, when she mentioned becoming aware of so many corn additives!) So no legumes, eh? No soy products… no grains… Ok, that does in fact rule out a major chunk of my vegan diet.

But I wasn’t ready to back down from this challenge just yet…

leek pattiesLast night I invited some friends over for a vegan Passover dinner. One made Charoset, a traditional Jewish dish made of nuts, apples, cinnamon and wine. Often it’s made with honey, which some vegans avoid. An easy substitute is agave nectar. He prepared a bit chunkier than it’s sometimes served, as you can see here, and we ate it spooned onto some matzah. Delicious!

Another friend made the amazing leek patties you see pictured to the left. I realized a bit too late that he’d used tofu to substitute as a binding agent for eggs, so the strict Jews couldn’t eat it. Normally I use cornstarch with water to bind patties, but since that would be out too, if anyone has a Kosher and vegan suggestion, I’m all ears!

As the only Goy amongst our group, I had to do a little research for our main course, which came courtesy of PETA’s Passover pages. They feature several great Kosher recipes, some more traditional than others. I went with the Eggplant Casserole, and it was a big hit.

Through my recipe research I also learned more about the growing movement amongst Jews to move toward vegetarianism. As investigations of unethical slaughterhouses become more and more commonplace, there has been much outrage in the Jewish community over Kosher slaughterhouses, which are typically thought of as being more humane. Turns out that’s not always the case. You can watch a video called If This is Kosher narrated by prolific author Jonathan Safran Foer at GoVeg.com which explores this issue more in-depth.

Back to my original question though, is it possible to keep Kosher, and keep up a vegan diet? Our dinner last night proved that it’s possible, though not without a bit of research and creativity. The hardest part is finding protein, but you can consider these plant-based, Kosher protein sources:

Quinoa is actually a seed, and not a grain, so it makes a great protein packed meal and is great with veggies.

Any nuts (excluding peanuts, which some consider kitiniyot as well). This actually opens up the door for a number of raw food recipes, packed high in nutrients. Raw foodists definitely know some great tricks for turning nuts and seeds into “breads.” Definitely worth exploring if you’ve gotten your fill of matzah this week!

For other resources, check out this sustainablog post on green Passover celebrations.

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About the Author

Sharon began working as Green Options' Office Manager, and has gone on to wear many hats, working also as Intern Coordinator, Editor, and Social Media Coordinator. In the GO office, she is perhaps best known as the founder and chef for the weekly "Soup Day." Prior to working with Green Options, Sharon earned a BA in Humanities from New College of California, and worked in the nonprofit arts and education sector. A vegetarian for seven years, and vegan for nearly three, Sharon has a bit of an obsession for plant-based food. When she's not hanging out in the bulk aisle of her local food co-op, Sharon is at home, trying to grow hydroponic basil, playing with her white fluffy cat, or annoying her neighbors by singing showtunes.



  • Ariel

    A substitute for cornstarch could be potato starch! Heck, people make cake for passover out of eggs and potato starch (blech) So I am sure it would be sufficiently starchy to hold together some leek and taters.

  • Bonnie

    Great article, Sharon!
    I use EnerG Egg Replacer to hold my latkes together. It seems a little nutty to hold potatoes together with potatoes, but it generally works.

    Passover dishes are actually among the most vegan-friendly of holiday accoutrements, with the exception of all those egg and chicken fat vein-unfriendly dishes. Tsimmes, for example, is merely a melange of fruits (apricots, prunes, raisins, pineapples, cherries — whatever you have on hand) with sweet potatoes or carrots or both and maybe a dash of cinnamon and a sprinkle of matzo meal to keep it all together. Cook them all up until they make a big tsimmes (fuss)(with all their bubblin’ and boilin’), and you’ll have yourself some sweet eats!

    Sweet potato kugel can be made by mixing 1/2 dozen sweet potatoes, a few grated apples, a cup of matzo meal, some walnuts, cinnamon, and a cup of water or fruit juice together. Bake it at 375 until crisp on top — about 3/4 of an hour. Yumm! Works at my house; should work at yours! ;-)

    Good yontiff!

  • Emma

    Arrowroot is an even better substitute for cornstarch, not just during Passover, but all the time.

    I usually end up going veggie instead of staying vegan for Passover. Of course it’s always possible to make delicious dishes for a special occasion, but the real trick is doing anything social or eating outside your home — for 8 days straight. When cheese and dried fruit are my only options at a conference reception, I’ve expanded to go for the cheese too.

    Thanks for taking on the challenge!

  • Sharon Troy

    Thanks to everyone for the suggestions! I think this definitely calls for some experimenting. Once I get the perfect recipe down, I will post it here.

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  • http://Web alona

    you could use potato starch instead of corn starch

    • http://importantmedia.org/members/beckyanne/ Becky Striepe

      Ooh great substitution!

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