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Wait wait, it's not a question for Seasoned Advice. :-)

I have a vegetarian (not vegan) coming to my seder this year. Most of the vegetarian staples (as far as I know) are chametz or kitniyot. For a yom tov meal I want to strive for "festive", something that will be as appealing as the meat that others will be eating.1 And, of course, it needs to be something that can be prepared in the context of the seder -- e.g. made ahead and held, not prepared immediately before serving (because we'll all be busy with the seder).

What kinds of vegetarian main dishes satisfy all the Pesach constraints? (There will of course be non-meat side dishes, like vegetables and potatoes.)

1 I considered going dairy, but aside from meat being traditional, I don't have enough dairy Pesach dishes for a seder!

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I think this would be on-topic both here and on Seasoned Advice. –  Isaac Moses Mar 11 '13 at 14:35
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@IsaacMoses, probably -- I just wanted to fend off the migration suggestion, as I'd have to explain the Pesach food restrictions there. I'm guessing that we know more about vegetarians than they know about Pesach. :-) –  Monica Cellio Mar 11 '13 at 14:37
    
Agreed. And more Jews cook than cooks are Jewish. –  Isaac Moses Mar 11 '13 at 14:38
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@Dan, well, the meat will be available to all, but I'd like to make more of an effort for a guest I invited into my home. If it were that annoying cousin nobody likes, it's possible that would be different. :-) Yes, my vegetarian eats eggs. –  Monica Cellio Mar 11 '13 at 15:02
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@Ariel, gebroktz is fine. –  Monica Cellio Mar 11 '13 at 19:32
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7 Answers 7

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Food writer Dan Pashman, this past Thanksgiving, wanted to invent a vegetarian dish that would be as special as a whole roast turkey, or even a turducken, in terms of requiring so much preparation and so many eaters that one would only do it for special occasions. He came up with the Veggieducken, a very large, stuffed squash. The only ingredient in the recipe that's not Kosher for Pesach is breadcrumbs, and I imagine that one could substitute matzah farfel (assuming one eats gebrokts). It's pareve. I haven't tried it, but it looks appealing and definitely fancy, and it seems to me that it could be made ahead kept warm, intact, for a while (or rewarmed), and then carved to order.

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Ooh, nice! That's very creative and looks like it would be tasty. –  Monica Cellio Mar 11 '13 at 14:43
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If you do adapt this recipe for Pesach, you should definitely blog it up. Jewish + foodie + vegetarian is not a unique combination, so your adaptation could prove interesting and useful to many others. –  Isaac Moses Mar 11 '13 at 15:19
    
Re "blog it up": Seasoned Advice has a blog with such posts IINM. Ping @MonicaCellio. –  msh210 Mar 11 '13 at 22:06
    
Thanks @msh210. Clearly I need to visit Seasoned Advice more often. I have a blog of my own, so if I do this (and I think I will; it sounds great!) I'll write about it there. If anybody finds value in it and wants to link it from somewhere else, well, that's (part of) what the internet is for. :-) –  Monica Cellio Mar 11 '13 at 22:16
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@IsaacMoses, here's the blog post (with photo of some surviving leftovers): cellio.livejournal.com/957315.html –  Monica Cellio Mar 27 '13 at 23:10
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If you think that the vegetarian guest will be receptive, maybe try asking them straight out. Something along the lines of: "I know that you're vegetarian, and it's very important to me to have vegetarian food available for you. Please help me out and give me some ideas for what I can make. I also have food restrictions, namely that I can't use most grain products and legumes."

My impression is that most people who have food restrictions for health or ideological reasons know how to work around them, and are respectful of other's food choices.

And remember, guests care more about the company and general ambiance than the food.
And a nice presentation goes a very long way in upgrading the impression that food gives.

As for practical ideas, maybe try looking onto fancy egg options. If they eat fish, make salmon and you're good to go. Some side dish ideas: Guacamole/avocado, Fruit salad, Jazzed up matza farfel,

Good Luck!
-Reb Chaim's wife

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Rebbetzin Chaim HaQetana? –  Double AA Mar 11 '13 at 17:44
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Drained peas aren't Kitniyoth? –  Seth J Mar 11 '13 at 17:50
    
Rebbetzin, please give Reb Chaim my regards. We knew each other in high school. (He'll know who I am. How many "jake"s did he know in high school?) Thank you. –  jake Mar 11 '13 at 17:53
    
That's a good point about asking -- thanks! (Alas, no fish or this would be easy.) –  Monica Cellio Mar 12 '13 at 2:32
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Woops. Seth J is right - peas are kitniyot! –  Reb Chaim HaQoton Mar 12 '13 at 4:51
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As a former vegetarian who's hosted my own seder and abstains from kitniyot, I've made (or eaten) the following types of dishes (recipes can be forthcoming, but the idea is what matters):

  • Vegetable soup instead of chicken soup (celeriac is really good to add)
  • Eggplant mina (a matza "pie" or "lasagna")
  • Nicely roasted root vegetables (parsnip, beets, squash, etc)
  • Fried butternut squash and tomatoes baked together in marsala wine (this is a phenomenal adaptation of a Mark Bittman recipe that calls for pumpkin and sherry)
  • Ratatouille
  • Quinoa salad
  • Deep-fried eggplant and zucchini cooked with tomato
  • Frittata
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Thanks for sharing your experience. These are great suggestions. –  Monica Cellio Mar 12 '13 at 2:31
    
@MonicaCellio sure! I just added two more since you wrote this. Frittatas can be really elegant, are completely chametzless, and are pretty easy. –  Charles Koppelman Mar 12 '13 at 18:47
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Quinoa is quickly becoming a staple for Passover among Ashkenazim, despite objections of some on the grounds that it might be Kitniyoth (CYLOR, but as long as they are available and certified free of 5-grain contamination, I strongly feel they ought to be left out of that category, but I digress).

See the list of Star K certified kosher for Pesach Quinoa. (The OU apparently disagrees.)

In our year-round menu, we eat a bunch of quinoa dishes that are basically just rice dishes with quinoa instead of rice. Among them:

"Rice" (read: quinoa) and sauteed peppers.

Sautee chopped red peppers (we find green peppers tend to taste bitter when cooked or fried) in olive oil with fresh, chopped onion and crushed or chopped garlic.

Cook "rice" according to standard directions. (Add a bit of extra salt for quinoa.)

While "rice" is simmering, add the sauteed veggies.

For richer flavor, boil the "rice" with vegetable soup1 stock instead of water. Homemade stock is better, but if your friend is MSG-tolerant (I'm not), you can find bullion cubes that are KFP.


"Rice" and sauteed mushrooms.

Sautee sliced mushrooms in olive oil with fresh, sliced onion and garlic. Use Shitakes and Portabellos if you can find them. They tend to be chewier, which I kind of like. I also enjoy this mixture with the onions sliced rather than chopped (unlike above recipe). I'm not sure why.

See above cooking directions for the "rice".

While "rice" is simmering, add the sauteed mushroom mixture.


This is not on our standard, year-round menu, but it probably should be:

Quinoa "Cholent":

Your friend might not be interested in cholent because it's typically a meat dish, but you can veggify it easily into "cholent", and if your friend eats eggs, nothing beats a good "cholent" egg. I'd also add, from my perspective, that whenever we've had vegetarians for a meal, I always feel badly if I serve them something made just for them, like a piece of fish when everyone else is eating a piece of meat. I also try really hard to have something piping hot that they can enjoy like everyone else. Nothing wrong with a "vegetarian option", but I hate for it to be the "main dish" that they can't eat. My approach is to have basically nothing that is meat that can be singled out as "the main" dish. If there are meat items, I'll have things like meatballs or chicken wings or shnitzel, for example, making the veggie alternative seem much less isolated.

Choose your favorite cholent recipe and substitute quinoa for the usual barley. Double the amount, roughly, of the barley you would have used. (Eh, maybe not quite double.)

Add carrots and/or sweet potato (if you don't normally have them in your cholent), as a substitute for the verboten kidney beans (Kitniyoth). You won't miss the beans anyway, since quinoa packs a lot of protein and fiber of its own.

Don't forget the potatoes. I'd use more than usual, but if you've got other veggies in there, you might not need to.

For flavor, we typically use fresh garlic, cut into chunks (seems to impart flavor better than whole), onion powder or fresh onion, depending on your taste, about a tablespoon or so of salt, a blended mixture of barbeque sauce (smokey and/or honey if you can find them KFP) and "mustard" (I know, KFP mustard is not amazing, but it still has that zing we like, so it works for a cholent or a "cholent"), a couple of tablespoons of each, and honey. Honey is our secret ingredient in all our cholents, so don't tell anyone! ;-)

Finally, try to get your hands on a parve, KFP Kishke. It exists, and it adds a nice flavor to any cholent.

As mentioned above, if your friend eats eggs, just put 4 or 5 (depending on the size of your pot) whole raw eggs into the cholent; nest2 them on something so they don't roll around and crack.

Add water just to cover the tallest ingredient. However, if that tallest ingredient is an egg or the Kishke, it's ok if it pokes out above the water line a bit. Watery cholent is more of a risk with quinoa than with barley. If you think you might have too much water, you can also get KFP couscous (seriously!) which can help absorb the excess water.

And there you have it. Just don't add any meat!

You'll likely want to cook it on the stovetop or in the oven instead of a slow-cooker, unless you've got your slow-cooker set on a timer and/or you plan on using it again for another meal. Keeping a slow-cooker going for 3 days straight is probably not a great idea in general. If you use a slow-cooker, cook it on high for an hour or so, unless you add boiling water at the outset, and then let it simmer for 12+ hours.

For stovetop or oven cooking, take this recipe over to Seasoned Advice!


1 Speaking of vegetable soup, there's another dish right there!

2 No pun intended.

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Nice. But note - This is the only (taste) acceptable use of k4p couscous :) –  Charles Koppelman Mar 11 '13 at 19:28
    
...or mustard. :) –  Seth J Mar 11 '13 at 19:37
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Thanks! As for cooking, I have a different reason not to use a slow-cooker: I only have the one crock and it's not pesadik. :-) –  Monica Cellio Mar 12 '13 at 2:32
    
Tip: if you leave the slow cooker on for extended periods of time, just keep adding in water. Note this works for making cholent on second day Yom Tov for a "third day Yom Tov"(=Shabbat). –  Double AA Mar 12 '13 at 2:48
    
@double aa, that's good for preventing a fire. But keeping it going for three days isn't good for the thing generally. I think. –  Seth J Mar 12 '13 at 2:52
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A vegetable dish that makes a nice presentation is stuffed peppers. I like to cut them in half, so there's more room to pile on the filling. When I shop, I try to find peppers with 4 sides rather than 3, so they'll lay flat. You can use any mixtures of cooked vegetables, such as mushrooms, onions, carrots, etc., with or without quinoa, and with or without tomato sauce, and garnish with mushroom caps, tiny carrot sticks, paprika, etc. Alternatively, you could make twice-baked potatoes or sweet potatoes. Since we always have hard-boiled eggs at our seder, I don't worry if the vegetarians don't get an abundance of protein later in the meal.

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Welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for sharing the benefit of your experience! I hope you'll explore the site and find other material that interests you, perhaps including our 291 other food questions. Please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features. –  Isaac Moses Mar 12 '13 at 16:33
    
Thank you! I make stuffed peppers (with rice) from time to time but hadn't thought about adapting for Pesach. –  Monica Cellio Mar 18 '13 at 0:08
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Mock chopped liver is really good. The main ingredients are egg, nuts, and onion. http://theshiksa.com/2012/03/20/mock-chopped-liver/

You can make a soup using shredded carrot and potato, maybe with some parsnip.

Potato blintzes are very filling - buy lots of potato starch. You make crepes using egg and starch, then fill them with mashed potato mixed with fried onion, fry the onion separately, with lots of oil and salt. Try to put all the salt in the onion, it makes the onion/oil really flavorful, and mix in the mashed potato. Fill the crepe and bake it.

Beets, with onion. (Both are chopped and boiled.)

Cucumber salad: raw onion and cucumbers sliced, salt, and vinegar. Let it marinate, it will make its own water, don't add any.

Does your guest eat fish? That add lots of possibilities.

If you eat gebroktz, then you can make gnocchi. You make this from matzah meal and mashed potato, then boil it in salt water.

Egg salad.

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I was at seder with a vegetarian two years ago. Vegetable dishes can be tasty. You don't have to serve boiled green beans and call it a day. My wife has this awesome dish, green beans, turnips, red onion, with a mustard sauce. Amazing. You can serve tasty and bright veggies. Learn to blanch and you are golden. Just look on the internet for tasty dishes.

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Welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for sharing this experience and advice! Please edit your profile and give yourself a name, unless you really like the number 2240, for some reason. I hope you'll look around and find more to your taste here, perhaps from among our 291 other food questions. –  Isaac Moses Mar 11 '13 at 15:22
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This answer would be even more valuable if you could share the recipe for the dish you mention and also specify whether it fulfills all of OP's requirements, including make-ahead-ability. Also, don't some people consider both green beans and mustard to be kitniyot? –  Isaac Moses Mar 11 '13 at 15:24
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I will. And I totally forgot that yes, they are kitniyot. My main idea being that veggie dishes don't have to be boiled potatoes, but can be lively and tasty. –  namer98 Mar 11 '13 at 15:31
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let the cross pollination from r/judaism begin –  user2110 Mar 11 '13 at 17:15
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@nikmasi "continue" –  Isaac Moses Mar 11 '13 at 17:45
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