Shanah Tovah! Start the Jewish New Year off right with this collection of vegan Rosh Hashanah recipes. From vegan challah and seitan brisket to tzimmes and apples with agave, Inhabitat has your recipe needs covered.
There are many symbolic foods, or Simanim, used to help celebrate Rosh Hashanah. On the first night, many people eat apples dipped in honey, a tradition that represents “wishes for a sweet year,” according to rabbi and author Shimon Apisdorf. But for Jewish vegans who don’t eat honey, what swaps can be made? The eggs in many challah recipes present a similar challenge, as does the brisket found on many Rosh Hashanah dinner tables. Thankfully, a few clever swaps and inventive recipes are here to help you enjoy all your Rosh Hashanah favorites the vegan way.
Apples and agave nectar
Let’s start with a simple and easy swap. Instead of apples and honey, try apples and agave nectar. This plant-based sweetener will do in a pinch as a sweet vegan syrup to dip your apples in. According to Healthline, agave nectar also has a lower glycemic index than honey, which means it won’t raise your blood glucose as high. For another fruit-based Rosh Hashanah food, don’t forget pomegranates. Its many seeds symbolize the merits one can create throughout the new year.
Vegan water challah
It may seem impossible to make challah without eggs, but never fear! Eggless challah, or water challah, can be just as sweet. If you can’t find water challah at your local bakery, try these delicious vegan recipes. The Spruce Eats has a Maple-Glazed Vegan Water Challah recipe that uses a pure maple syrup and non-dairy milk mixture as the glaze for a mouth-watering loaf. Add some cinnamon and raisins to the dough for extra sweetness, or go the savory route by topping your challah with chopped fresh herbs, poppy seeds or sesame seeds.
For a unique spin on this classic, you can also try out actor and author Mayim Bialik’s Hot Pretzel Challah Bread from her cookbook “Mayim’s Vegan Table.” A boiling baking soda and water bath gives this challah its delectable pretzel crust. Serve with pretzel salt on top and your favorite mustard.
Whichever recipe you choose, make sure to braid your challah in a round shape. While challah is eaten on many Jewish holidays, round challah is traditional for Rosh Hashanah to symbolize the cycle of life and creation.
Finding a vegan replacement for brisket can seem daunting. After all, how do you get that slow-roasted flavor with only vegan ingredients? Many people have experimented with their own versions of vegan brisket, but this recipe from ZardyPlants stands above the rest. Seitan is the star of this recipe, with black beans, vegetable broth, soy sauce and various spices and vegetables to give it a flavorful kick.
Not a fan of seitan? No problem. This jackfruit brisket recipe (previously mentioned in Inhabitat’s vegan Hanukkah recipes article) from Jewish Veg pairs crushed tomatoes, Manischewitz, agave and other ingredients for a tasty main dish you won’t soon forget.
No great holiday dinner is complete without some stellar side dishes. Tzimmes is a sweet carrot dish often served on Rosh Hashanah. Explaining this tradition, Chabad.org says the Yiddish word merren “means both “carrot” and “increase,” symbolizing a wish for a year of abundance.” While some recipes use schmaltz for extra flavor, tzimmes can easily be made vegan. Try My Jewish Learning’s Healthy Tzimmes, which gives you the option to swap out honey for agave nectar. This recipe’s use of aromatic spices and fresh mint ensures you won’t miss out on any delicious flavors.
Another symbolic food, beets bring gorgeous color to your dinner table. As The Spruce Eats writes, “The Hebrew word for beets, selek, is similar to the word for “remove.” They’re eaten to express the hope that our enemies will depart.” To incorporate beets into your Rosh Hashanah meals, try this Moroccan Roasted Beets with Pomegranate and Pistachio recipe from Feasting At Home. A balsamic vinegar and maple syrup reduction makes this recipe truly scrumptious.
If you’re searching for a good snack recipe, you can also try making beet chips. For perfectly crisp beet chips, try out this recipe from A Spicy Perspective. Pair your chips with this pomegranate hummus recipe, or a spicy carrot dip.
Swap fish heads for vegetables
While fish heads represent the adage “be a head, not a tail,” or a leader rather than a follower, having a fish head at the table is out of the question for many vegans. Instead, why not try a head of cabbage, lettuce or cauliflower? You can even use a head of garlic if you prefer. Enjoy these foods alone as a snack, in dishes such as garlic bread or vegan coleslaw, or simply as decorative table dressings.
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