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The Jewish holiday of Passover comes with a number of food restrictions, the most famous of which is no leavened bread.

But (kosher) meat? That's fair game — unless you are vegetarian or vegan.

Some Passover seders (the ritual meals, held on two nights beginning April 22) can be animal-protein-heavy, with schmaltz-fortified matzo balls, gefilte fish, golden chicken soup and, often, a meat main. But two new cookbooks offer a wide scope of recipes that incorporate a multitude of traditions, or make new ones.

"The Jewish Holiday Table: A World of Recipes, Traditions & Stories to Celebrate All Year Long," by Naama Shefi and the nonprofit Jewish Food Society, divides the year by seasons and holidays, with menus from contributors across the globe. Passover, which heralds spring, gives home cooks a ticket to the Soviet Union, Mexico, Yemen, Turkey and Morocco by way of family journeys and stories.

In contributor Alexandra Zohn's family in Mexico City, Passover always meant there would be minas. These savory pies begin with a layer of matzah (unleavened bread) and are topped with fillings of meats, vegetables or, in the quiche-like Mina de Espinaca, spinach, cheese and potatoes.

Gefilte fish is a love-it-or-hate-it appetizer on many Ashkenazi Jewish tables. In "Nosh: Plant-Forward Recipes Celebrating Modern Jewish Cuisine," dietitian Micah Siva provides a plant-based alternative to the fish patties that her great-grandmother used to make.

Her Vegan "Gefilte" Cakes are made from a mixture of cauliflower, root vegetables and cashews, with sushi nori lending some of flavor of the sea.

For Siva, creating a vegan version of gefilte fish was essential to her holiday celebrations: "I couldn't make a Jewish cookbook without paying homage to this family tradition."

Vegan "Gefilte" Cakes from "Nosh: Plant-Forward Recipes Celebrating Modern Jewish Cuisine," by Micah Siva
Vegan "Gefilte" Cakes from "Nosh: Plant-Forward Recipes Celebrating Modern Jewish Cuisine," by Micah Siva

Micah Siva, Provided

Vegan 'Gefilte' Cakes

Makes 10 cakes.

Micah Siva, Provided

"Gefilte fish is a delicacy in my family; my great-grandmother Freda was famous for her recipe. My mom and grandmother spent years trying to replicate it, which was passed down verbally with measurements of handfuls and a bisl ("a bit"). After years of trying, they were finally able to nail it down. I couldn't make a Jewish cookbook without paying homage to this family tradition. I made a vegan recipe using a mixture of vegetables, seaweed, and spices to mimic the flavor and textures of Freda's gefilte." From "Nosh: Plant-Forward Recipes Celebrating Modern Jewish Cuisine" by Micah Siva (Simon & Schuster, 2024). Note: The gefilte cakes can be frozen for up to 3 months and reheated on an aluminum foil–lined sheet pan in the oven at 400°F until heated through. Variation: You can substitute nori with 1 tablespoon dulse flakes, 2 tablespoons furikake seasoning, or 2 tablespoons kelp granules.

• 2 medium carrots, scrubbed,1 roughly chopped

• 1/4 head cauliflower, cut into florets

• 1 medium parsnip, peeled and roughly chopped

• 1 medium russet potato, peeled and roughly chopped

• 1/4 white onion, roughly chopped

• 1/4 c. raw cashews

• 1 sheet sushi nori, finely chopped (see Note)

• 1/4 c. matzo meal

• 3 tbsp. flax meal

• 4 1/4 to 6 1/4 c. water, divided

• 1/2 tsp. black pepper

• 1/2 tsp. sea salt

• 1 tsp. lemon zest

• 1 tsp. potato starch

• 1/2 tsp. baking powder

• 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil

• Flaky sea salt, for serving

• Horseradish, for serving


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor, pulse the chopped carrot, cauliflower, parsnip, potato and onion until they are the size of peas. Add the cashews to the food processor and pulse until well combined.

Transfer the vegetables to a medium bowl. Add the nori, matzo meal, flax meal, ¼ cup of the water, pepper, salt, lemon zest, potato starch, and baking powder and mix until combined. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Using a 1/4-cup measure, form the mixture into 10 patties.

Heat the olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Cook the patties until golden, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the patties to the prepared sheet pan and bake for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt.

Meanwhile, cut the remaining carrot into ¼-inch slices. Combine the carrots and enough water to cover by 1 inch in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to a simmer and gently cook the carrots until tender. Drain and set aside.

Top the patties with the sliced carrot and serve with horseradish.

Mina de Espinaca is a matzah and spinach pie, from "The Jewish Holiday Table"
Mina de Espinaca is a matzah and spinach pie, from "The Jewish Holiday Table"

, Provided

Mina de Espinaca (Matzah and Spinach Pie)

Serves 6 to 8.

, Provided

"A staple of Sephardi Passover tables, mina de matza (sometimes simply called mina) is a type of savory pie stacked with sheets of matzah and fillings like seasoned meat, eggplant, or spinach and cheese. With layers of mashed potatoes and spinach both laced with Parmesan, this one from Alexandra [Zohn]'s family makes a wonderful main for a vegetarian Seder or Passover lunch." Excerpted from "The Jewish Holiday Table," by Naama Shefi and the Jewish Food Society (Artisan, 2024).

• 2 russet or 3 Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1 1/2 lb.), scrubbed, halved if large

• Kosher salt

• 1 1/2 c. (about 6 oz.) shredded Parmesan cheese

• 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

• 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

• 1 lb. baby spinach, finely chopped

• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• 4 or 5 (7-in.) sheets matzah


Make the potatoes: Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with water, add 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a knife, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and let cool until the potatoes are cool enough to handle but still warm.

Peel the potatoes and put them in a large bowl. Mash them with a potato ricer or fork until smooth, with no chunks. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, cream cheese and eggs and mix well with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth and uniform. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt, if you like. Set aside.

Make the spinach mixture: Put the chopped spinach in a medium bowl and add 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix until the cheese and salt are evenly distributed. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch springform pan with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil.

Fill a container that's large enough to hold a matzah sheet with about an inch of water and stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt. Line a plate or tray with paper towels.

Soak the matzahs one at a time in the water until the sheets are flexible yet still firm enough to hold their shape; this could take anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute or two. Gently place each soaked matzah on the paper towels to absorb excess moisture.

Assemble the mina: Line the bottom of the springform pan with a matzah, then fill in the gaps around the edges with pieces of matzah that you tear to fit. Spread half of the spinach-Parmesan mixture over the matzah in an even layer. Add another layer of moistened matzah on top, gently pressing the matzah into the spinach layer to make space for the remaining layers.

Spread the rest of the spinach mixture over the matzah layer. Place another layer of matzah over the spinach, gently pressing the matzah into the spinach to make room for the remaining layer.

Spread the potato mixture evenly over the matzah layer. Use the back of a spoon or an offset spatula to make swirls in the surface of the potatoes so they brown attractively in the oven. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan on top of the potato layer and drizzle the remaining olive oil on top.

Bake the mina until deep golden brown, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes, then run the tip of a sharp knife around the edges of the mina to release it from the pan.

Remove the sides of the springform, transfer the mina to a serving platter and cut into wedges. Serve hot.