Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Vegan Passover Plate

While the brisket and fish made their rounds and a lamb bone was held high I pondered the meaning of freedom that the Passover Seder represents. The story, called the Haggadah, is replete with ritualistic slaughter and traditional seder food preparation brings forth cooked animals.  Although I have attended many seders as a vegetarian this was my first as a vegan. Previously I ate fish and dairy so, with the addition of a specially cooked piece of salmon, there was plenty for me to eat.  This year was a bit different. I just never noticed the totality of the meat centric dishes.

Aside from a cucumber salad in a sweet vinegar dressing and Harosset, (a fruit compote), there was nothing being offered of a vegan nature.  My cousin told me she hooked me up by picking up a corn and black bean salad,  a marinated bean salad, and a vegan Mediterranean vegetable soup.  I pulled out 2 casserole dishes from way in the back of the cabinet and went to work.

A nice blend of veggies, tomato base and seasonings.

I wanted a unique dish in a quantity which would allow me a dinner sized portion and a sample for the other 18 people at the seder if they wished to try a vegan dish.

After some internetting, (new word alert),  I chose the Eggplant Matzo Mina, a Sephardic passover dish which is a marriage of a matzo lasagna eggplant parmigiana.  It's from Nava Atlas' www.vegkitchen.com and the recipe is here.  The substitutions I made were:

recipe was doubled
Whole wheat matzo
Porcini mushroom powder
Muir Glen Tomato Sauce
Muir Glen Fire Roasted Diced Tomato
Adobo Seasoned Petit Diced Tomatos.

This started to take on a Mexican-ish flair when I couldn't get Daiya Mozzarella and went with 2 packages of Daiya Cheddar, (both used up completely), and started to think of some flavors melding better with the sharper cheddar flavor.  I also had to travel with the dishes and although I'm a decent cook and can follow a recipe as well as the next guy, I am not that familiar with good travel prep for food.  (Should you cook the dish, refrigerate it or not cook it and refrigerate it, just put it together and leave it at room temperature and then cook it?)

I made the sauce, assembled the dish, covered it with tin foil and put it in the fridge for the hour or so until we were leaving.  Then put it in the oven covered for about 40 minutes.  The Daiya still had a stringy look to it so we uncovered it and left it in a bit more.  I also put a little extra sauce on top of one dish.  In both, the matzo was a little "crispy" like regular matzo but the inside of the casseroles was perfect.  Everyone who ate it enjoyed the dish and some had seconds.  My daughter's dislike of Daiya seemed to fall by the wayside and she too like the dish.  One key I think is to go easy on the cheese layers, don't put 1/2 inch of cheese one each layer.

Of course I forgot to take a picture before it was put out on the buffet table.
Personally I think this was the most colorful plate at the table.
Happy Passover to all.  Freedom for all.

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