Meatless Monday – ‘Holy’day Week

From lamb to ham, the spring season sees a series of ‘Holydays‘ from different religious traditions. And where’s there’s ritual, there’s a feast.  Food is symbolic and plays an important role, be it fasting or feasting, in religious occasions. For the vegetarian/vegan at the table there are a number of adaptations that can be made so that they feel welcome and are well-fed. This week’s Meatless Monday is simply a series of tips and ideas for ‘Holyday’ foods.

Passover is a week-long holiday during spring that recognizes the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. The main meal of Seder is eaten on the first night to mark the beginning of this Holyday week. The traditional foods served which are naturally vegetarian/vegan are:

  • Karpas – A green vegetable (usually parsley or celery) dipped in salt water and eaten to represent tears shed by the Jewish slaves. Idea: A starter salad with parsley and celery in a vinaigrette (olive oil and lemon juice from the Holy Lands perhaps?) and lightly salted with Maldon flakes.
  • Matzah – An unleavened flat bread to represent the haste with which the Jewish people fled (no time for the dough to rise). Idea: Matzah ball soup.
  • Maror –  Bitter herbs (typically horseradish and sometimes romaine lettuce) to represent the bitterness of slavery. Idea: A nice dandelion green salad with romaine lettuce is cleansing and can act as a stand-in for ‘bitterness’. See also Beitzah for a horseradish suggestion.
  • Charoset– This mixture of nuts, cinnamon, apple and honey represents the mortar used by the Jewish slaves to construct buildings in Egypt. Idea: A dessert crumble using nuts and apples as the base and an oat streusel topping. Drizzle with honey and serve with chocolate ice cream.
  • Beitzah – Hard-boiled eggs. Idea: Deviled eggs with a little horseradish.
  • Wine – Check for vegan options. Idea: Grape juice or wine punch.

The non-vegetarian/vegan items include brisket and a shank of lamb. To recognize the significance of the lamb (‘sacrifice’) here are our tips:
*Sacrifice tradition by not including it at all.
*Have a lamb sculpture as a centrepiece.
*Donate to an animal charity.

The food is typically laid out in a certain order on the plate. Idea: Go modern cuisine and have a tasting menu of a vegetarianized Seder meal.

For more information, consult Judaism 101.

  • The origin of the word holiday refers to ‘religious festival
  • Seder is Hebrew for ‘order’

And what of the Easter ham? I found details about the origins of the Easter ham to be inconclusive as to its significance at this time of year. But  for Meatless Monday, who cares that there’s no ham!? For those wanting to give a nod to this dish you will find that most recipes include a sweet component (brown sugar glaze or pineapple) to go with the salt of the ham. To mimic the flavours here is our idea: Place cubes of tofu in a brown sugar, grapeseed/olive oil and coconut vinegar marinade. Leave for 24 hours. Combine with pineapple chunks, olives and green peppers and place on flat bread (Unleavened is a nice choice; Like the pairing of certain foods, some traditions go well together.) Use the remainder of the marinade as a sauce for your Easter pizza.

Holyday‘ feasts come about through events, history and often religion. It is the significance behind these traditions that are key.  Whether you vegetarianize/veganize the traditional or create your own any ‘Holyday’ can be made Meatless.

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