Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Rosh Hashanah

Tzimmes, kugel and Field Roast

I know I promised another "vegan pantry" entry today, but that will have to wait until tomorrow. Tonight is the beginning of the Jewish New Year, known as Rosh Hashanah, and I got a little bit carried away with dinner!

I distinctly remember my first Rosh Hashanah as a vegan. I suddenly realized that most of the dishes I associated with Jewish Holidays revolved around meat. My mother's chicken and slow-cooked pot roast were always center stage. One of my favorite dishes for Rosh Hashanah--tzimmes--was traditionally cooked (at least at my house) with meat as well. My heart dropped a bit as I realized I wouldn't be able to carry on these traditions.

While I puzzled about what to prepare, it soon became evident that it wouldn't be too difficult to come up with some alternatives, that were not just acceptable, but actually delicious! After all, the best part of the tzimmes to me was always the sweet flavors of the carrots, root vegetables, and sweet apricots melding together as they simmered in the oven. And so, tzimmes quickly became a real Rosh Hashanah staple for me (and I haven't shied away from introducing it to other holidays as well!). I found plenty of ideas online for other delicious dishes that were familiar to me as a Jew, but that I'd never previously tackled. Along with the traditional challah roll, some kugel, and a few nice vegetable side dishes (and tzimmes, of course!) can make for a really nice meal. (If you're looking for some more vegan Rosh Hashanah ideas, check out this list on Veg Kitchen.)

For the challah this year, my friend brought a loaf over. Next year (or maybe next Shabbat?), however, I'd love to try some of the great vegan challah recipes myself (I'm sure the Post Punk Kitchen recipe is delish, and the one on Nava Atlas' site looks great as well).  Apples dipped in honey are another traditional part of Rosh Hashanah (to celebrate a "sweet new year)." Many vegans choose to avoid honey because of the killing of bees that occurs during its collection. There are plenty of vegan alternatives to honey, including Bee Free Honney, which was designed specifically to mimic its properties. Other sweeteners that approximate the consistency of honey, such as agave nectar (there is even a honey-flavored agave), are also often used.

Apples and Agave Nectar

As for my kugel recipe, I've hopped around with many different vegan adaptations of this traditionally egg-filled dish, and this year I decided to try this sweet one (see below), from the "Discerning Brute." I ended up tweaking this recipe significantly (it was delicious!), and I look forward to posting my own recipe soon.

Kugel for Rosh Hashanah

And for the roast? I'd never tackled replacing with it anything, but this year I decided I might give it a shot. My eyes originally fell on this fantabulous-looking recipe from Post Punk Kitchen, but alas, my time today was short. Since I was already committed to the tzimmes and the kugel, I instead went for the Field Roast "Celebration Roast" at Whole Foods (a wheat gluten roast stuffed with butternut squash, apples, and mushrooms) for somewhere around $7.99. I braised it with Edward & Sons Not-beef broth (also from Whole Foods), seasoned with a little extra thyme, rosemary, and rubbed sage.

Field Roast "Celebration Roast"

Many holidays revolve around food. We grow up with traditions that may seem difficult to part with, but leaving meat out of your meals doesn't have to be a hurdle. You can incorporate the flavors you love, from the dishes you've always known, into compassionate cooking as well. As everything sat simmering in the oven today, and the aromas came wafting out of the kitchen into the living room, my boyfriend told me the smell was quite evocative. "Of what?" I asked. "Of being a Jewish boy," he said.

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