Vegan in Italy

family collage

A couple of weeks ago my family and I spent a week traveling in Northern Italy.  Italy, particularly Venice, has been on my bucket list for as long as I’ve had a bucket list, so I was beyond thrilled to be actually taking this trip!  We visited Milan, Venice, the Italian Alps, the Dolomites, Verona, Padova, Bassano del Grappa, and village after village of adorableness.  Expectations we met and exceeded.  I foresee a long and romantic relationship between Italy and myself.

Now, after recent spontaneous weekend trips to Paris and Barcelona, where I found it challenging to find healthy, fresh, vegan food, I came into this trip better prepared and had a much better food experience.  In defense of Paris and Barcelona, there are several vegan restaurants in both cities and probably in most big cities the world around.  You can go to the website, type in your destination and eat like a vegan queen.  However, my family is not vegan, and when not eating in my vegan kitchen, my husband in particular, wants animal foods.  Often we will compromise by finding an Indian, Asian, or North African restaurant where we can both order as we choose.  But other times, I am left staring at a menu where the only vegan option is bread, and maybe not even the bread.  This was especially true of Paris, where I was unable to even get soy milk for my coffee in any cafe in the tourist areas.  I’m sure it exists but not where I was.

Another great resource I have used for vegan travel in Europe is the blog Keepin It Kind.  Blogger Kristi has traveled as vegan throughout Europe and has written an extremely comprehensive guide of not just restaurants, but also of words you will need to learn and where you are likely to find vegan items on menus and in stores.  You can view her travel section here.

To start off, I knew from previous trips that in European hotels where breakfast is included, it is generally a bunch of buttery non-vegan pastries, bread, butter and jam, coffee and tea with cow’s milk, juices, meats and cheeses, and occasionally some fruit.  So the night before we left for Italy, I packed baggies for each morning of our stay with 1/2 cup dry oats, 2 Tbsp vegan protein powder (anticipating a protein-light week), raisins and cinnamon:

protein oats logo

I also brought with me small boxes of soy milk for my coffee. Our first night in Italy, we went to a supermarket to buy some fruit, and I also found some soy yogurt there. When we came down to breakfast each morning, I simply dumped my oats into a bowl, covered them with hot water and then a with a plate, and let them steam and soak while I prepared my coffee.    I generally topped my then cooked oats with a dollop of jam from the breakfast buffet, with fruit, and sometimes a soy yogurt.  My breakfasts looked like this and kept me full and satisfied for HOURS of touring around.

bfat collage


Next, restaurants:  One of the suggestions I learned on Keepin It Kind, was to order a “pizza vegetariano senza mozzarella”. It was possible to do this in almost any restaurant and it was a completely normal thing to order – no waiter ever batted an eye and my pizza always came correctly, topped with a variety of roasted veggies, tomato sauce, and no cheese:

first pizza logo

bruschetta logo


As for street food, there was always the option to get a focaccia topped with veggies and no cheese:

onion foccacia logo

pizza 2 logo


Most of the salads came with cheese or meat on top, but it was easy to ask for them without:

salad logo


The minestrone soup was made with a vegetable broth base and had no added animal ingredients.  I asked!

minestrone 1 logo

It was also possible to order plain pasta and gnocchi with tomato sauce, but again, you need to ask if the sauce is made with cheese or meat and if the gnocchi has eggs.  This one did not:

gnocchi logo


It was easy to re-stock on fruits often, as Italians seem to love shuk shopping as much as Israelis do:

shuk collage

By the way, see those chestnuts top right corner?  Although I suspect it’s a seasonal treat, we frequently bought little bags of roasted chestnuts for a hearty, warm, protein-rich snack.

The place where I could really see the advancement of veganism into Italy though, was at the gelato shops.  Almost all places we went have clearly marked “gelato vegano” signs!  I enjoyed two gelatos during the week, chocolate and hazelnut.  I’m not a big fan of ice creamy things, but these were really delicious!  The chocolate said it was made with rice milk.  The hazelnut was soy milk based.

gelato chocolate logo

gelato hazelnut logo

And of course, in Venice, we found the trademark marzipan fruits.  I am not 100% sure that marzipan is completely vegan, the colorings and glaze may have animal ingredients, so do your own research – but for me, they were vegan-enough:

marzipan fruits logo

The only thing I had trouble with was when we packed sandwiches for our family lunches al fresco.  We bought bread, cheese and pesto for the three of them, but I could not for the life of me find any hummus or tahina!  I even followed an Arab couple in the supermarket one day and finally asked them.  They laughed and said there was a Middle Eastern market, but it was not near where we were.  My other usual vegan sandwich option -avocado – didn’t work because the avocados were all hard as stones.  Clearly Italy needs to get on it and import our creamy, delicious Israeli avocados!  In one shop I finally found a carton of roasted veggie antipasti, so we just layered eggplant, peppers and zucchini into bread and I made do.  Incidentally, pesto in Italy is made with cheese so that was a no-go. (In Israel, pesto is quite often parve, or dairy-free).

Only in Vicenza, Italy, with it’s larger North African and Turkish population, did we find a falafel shop.  Actually it was a shawarma shop that sold some pretty crappy frozen falafel but I didn’t care.  I was in chickpea withdrawal.  Just be careful with Turkish falafel though, because the sauce they are about to pour on your sandwich that looks like tahina, is really yogurt.  Luckily I had been tipped off by one of our travel companions and I enjoyed my dry, but passable falafel:

falafel logo


We only had one afternoon in Milan before we flew back, and I caught a glimpse of these vegan chia puddings and soy yogurt parfaits.  I am sure there are vegan restaurants and treats aplenty in the larger cities such as Milan.

milan collage


For where I was for most of the week, in the countryside, away from tourist areas, in a group full of non-vegans, I feel like I ate really well.  A little heavy on the white flour carbs and not as much protein (beans and tofu) or green veggies as I eat at home, but I was satisfied, able to order and eat in all restaurants with my family, and never felt hungry or deprived.

One guess as to the first thing I ate when I got home…

hummus-post-2Hello old friend.  I missed you!



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MoFo 2014 Wrap-Up: Recipe Extras!

I’m so glad we had this time together,
Just to have a laugh, or sing a song.
Seems we just got started and before you know it
Comes the time we have to say, ‘So long.’

Can you name that jingle?  Hint:  family tv hour, 1970’s, USA.  Let me know if you get it!

So, 20 posts in 30 days and Vegan MoFo 2014 has come to a successful close.  I met lots of great new people – readers and bloggers, both.  Circle expanded, check!  I seem to have been offered a regular contributor position at a major vegan website (more on that once I make my final decision about it). Exposure and opportunity, check!  I provided you my readers with a bevy of new recipes and heard from many of you that you’ve already tried and liked many of them.  Extra points to those of you who sent pictures – I loved that!  Provided service and value, check!

But the final thing I join MoFo for – to discover new blogs and gather new recipes – didn’t really happen so much.  So many people were signed up but didn’t actually participate and many who did wrote an awful lot of product and restaurant reviews, rather than recipes.  And what was with the blogs participating and posting non-vegan content??  I think Vegan MoFo hey-day is over.  For me, at least.  This will be my last.

I don’t have a final recipe for you today.  Instead I thought I’d share some of the recipes I didn’t get around to making.  I would have held them over for next year but since deciding that there will be no next year, I am passing them on to you.  Ta da!  My Jewish readers still have the hurdle of Sukkot cooking looming ahead of them, so I’m hoping that some additional vegan recipes will help you plan your menus.

1.  First up is this Syrian Lentil and Swiss Chard dish that I was planning to make for Rosh Hashanah and then blog for you today.  Deep into my holiday cooking, about an hour after the stores had closed for the holiday, I opened my pantry to pull out the lentils and…  yeah, no lentils.  I don’t think I have been bereft of lentils EVER since becoming a vegan in 2009, but you know, Murphy had his way with me that fateful day and my lentil dish was not to be.  But it’s OK, because I can send you to the source:


 Syrian Lentils with Swiss Chard

2.  Next we have Tofu Chraime by Ori Shavit.  Ori is a major vegan blogger and animal rights activist here in Israel.  She has a full blog in Hebrew and then a partial blog in English.  Chraime, for those who are not familiar with it, is a Moroccan dish of fish stewed in a spicy tomato sauce.  When I posted this recipe on Facebook the other day, Sivan, editor of The Vegan Woman, told me it’s her favorite recipe and she makes it all the time.  Sounds good to me!


Tofu Chraime 

3.  I had planned to make the Pomegranate Tabouleh from an Israeli cookbook I own, but this one looks similar:


 Pomegranate Tabouleh

4. Cardamom Spiced Pancakes with Homemade Date Jam from One Arab Vegan were on my list:


Cardamom Spiced Pancakes with Homemade Date Jam

5.  Continuing the cardamom love, this Cardamom Rose Cold Brew Coffee caught my eye:


 Cardamom Rose Cheap-o-chino

6.  Fellow MoFo’er Zsu’s Vegan Kitchen, who did a month of vegan burgers worthy of a looksie, shared this Tempeh Gyro Burger that fit my theme:

Tempeh Gyro Burger B Zsu Dever Tempeh Gyro Burger

7.  Hearty White Bean Soup with Spinach, Rosemary and Garlic would be delicious on a cool evening in the sukkah or at home:


Hearty White Bean Soup with Spinach, Rosemary and Garlic

8.  Coconut Rice Pudding from one of my favorite blogs, May I Have that Recipe, looks divine!


Coconut Rice Pudding

9.  These Sesame and Hummus Bites from another favorite blog, Coconut and Berries, is as close as you’ll get to baked falafel on this blog.  People kept asking me “Do you have a falafel recipe?” Folks, I just could not bring myself to do it.  First of all, falafel is deep-fried, that’s what makes it taste so good.  Secondly, I have falafel abundance at my fingertips here and would never, ever even WANT to make it at home, let alone, ack, bake it.  Falafel snob, sorry.  But these look interesting enough to try:

DSC_0202_thumbSesame Hummus Bites with Mango Tahini Sauce

10. I’m planning on using my leftover freekah to make this version of Mejadra, which is usually made of lentils and rice, here made of freekah and black lentils.  This recipe uses goat yogurt but can be easily veganized with vegan yogurt or just by omitting yogurt entirely:


 Mejadra Freekah

So my puppies, that should keep you busy for awhile!  I shall be back to blogging soon, but perhaps will take a week or two off.  A reminder that MY recipe posts for several years of Vegan MoFos Past, can be found on my recipe index page and by searching posts with the Vegan Mofo category tag.

selfie 1 with logo

Here I am, oven-mitt waving at you, in front of the very stove where I have been standing all month.  And yes, indeedy, short hair happened this month too!

Thank you all SO much for hanging out with me in the kitchen!!  All the best, emily

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Persian Rice Pilaf

persian rice 1

In the excellent cookbook The World of Jewish Cooking, author Gil Marks writes,

Rice was brought westward from eastern Asia to Persia at least 3,000 years ago, where it quickly became so beloved that no meal was considered complete without its presence.  Contact with the Persian Empire brought rice to Israel at the onset of the 2nd Temple Period, and Jews became almost as passionate about it as Persians, considering its whiteness a symbol of purity. By Roman times, Israeli rice had become an important export of which the Jerusalem Talmud boasts “There is none like it outside Israel.”

For those of you who don’t know, Persia is modern-day Iran and there are loads of Jews of Iranian heritage living in Israel.  I myself, was raised in America on Uncle Ben’s orange boxed white rice which was sticky and very starchy.  Persian rice, on the other hand, is dry, not sticky, with every grain of rice, fluffy and separate.  It took me a long time and many tutorials with an Iranian friend to get the consistency right.  The best way I have found is to first soak the rice, then rinse it thoroughly, par-boil it for 4 minutes in a large pot of salted water, drain again, lightly fry in oil and then steam with no additional water.  But short of that multi-stepped method, the below recipe takes a few short cuts to produce the same result.  The bit with the towel-wrapped lid is a MUST!  The towel absorbs condensation that forms on the lid and drips back down into your rice.  Just be very careful that your towel doesn’t touch down to the burner and catch fire.

Basmati rice is my rice of choice for this dish.  You can use brown basmati or even long-grain brown rice, but add about 20 minutes cooking time and maybe 1/2 cup more water if you use brown instead of white.

Persian Rice Pilaf

Persian Rice Pilaf


  • 2 Tbsp oil, divided
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 4 large carrots, grated
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup slivered or sliced almonds
  • 2 cups white Basmati rice
  • 3 1/2 cups water or broth
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • dash cinnamon
  • 1 tsp orange blossom water (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Soak the rice in water to cover for at least an hour, preferably 2-3 hours
  2. Drain the rice in a strainer and rinse it thoroughly for a few minutes until the water runs clear, not white
  3. Set rice aside in strainer to drain
  4. Saute onion and carrots in 1 Tbsp oil until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes
  5. Add rice and stir to coat completely with oil.
  6. Keep stirring for a minute until a toasty aroma begins to arise.
  7. Add turmeric, raisins, cinnamon, salt and pepper, orange blossom water if using, and water and stir to combine.
  8. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 12 minutes, or until water is all absorbed and rice is to your desired consistency.
  9. Fluff the rice with a fork.
  10. Wrap the cover of the pot in a clean, cotton kitchen towel and replace it tightly on the pot.
  11. Turn off the heat and let sit for 10-20 minutes or until ready to serve.
  12. In the meantime, saute the almonds in the remaining 1 Tbsp oil just until lightly fragranced and golden. Be careful not to burn them!
  13. Toss almonds into rice and fluff again with a fork before serving.

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Georgian Pomegranate Tofu

pomegranate tofu 1

The flavor combination of pomegranate syrup, walnuts and mint, is common in the cuisine of Georgia (and I do not mean the Peach State y’all!).

The Jews of Georgia, in the Caucasus, between the Black and Caspian Seas, trace their presence in Georgia from the time of the Babylonian exile in the 6th century BCE when my people were kicked out of Israel and dispersed throughout the world.  According to Wikipedia, since 1989, 21,134 Georgian Jews have returned to Israel.  Here in Israel, they have added to the amazing melting pot of cuisines and exotic spices and flavors.  Those flavors, along with the upcoming Rosh HaShanah holiday, in which pomegranate plays an important, symbolic role, inspired me to create this dish.

This is a super easy recipe requiring an overnight marinade, so plan accordingly.  This also uses just one box of tofu.  If you are feeding a crowd, multiply the recipe accordingly.

Georgian Pomegranate Tofu

Serving Size: serves 2

Georgian Pomegranate Tofu


  • 1 box (300g) firm tofu
  • 1 cup pomegranate syrup (rotev rimonim)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves chopped
  • more chopped mint for garnish
  • about 2 Tbsp toasted walnuts for garnish
  • 2 Tbsp pomegranate seeds for garnish


  1. Slice the tofu into 6 slices, about 3/4" thick each
  2. Mix the pomegranate syrup, chopped mint and chopped garlic in a flat casserole dish that will fit all tofu slices laying flat.
  3. Lay tofu slices in marinade.
  4. Marinate overnight, turning the tofu over once to marinate the second side.
  5. Lightly oil a grill pan and heat it on medium-high heat
  6. Remove the tofu from the marinade.
  7. Place the marinade in a small saucepan.
  8. Grill tofu slices for 2 minutes per side to get grill marks and cook through. (You can do this in a regular skillet if you don't have a grill pan).
  9. In the meantime, bring the marinade to a boil and cook for a few minutes until it is slightly reduced and thick.
  10. Place the tofu on your serving dish, pour the marinade over it, garnish with walnuts, additional mint and pomegranate seeds.

OK cuties, that is it for me for this week.  I’ll be offline enjoying my family and community for the holiday.  Back next week with our final two Vegan MoFo posts!  In the meantime, I wish all of you, regardless of race, religion, non-religion, whatever, many blessings, much happiness, health and prosperity in the new year!

Here is a little video of a dude blowing a shofar, a ram’s horn, all over my beautiful country.  The shofar is blown at multiple occassions on these holidays as a wake-up call, a reminder to concentrate and focus, and a humble supplication before our Creator.  A Sweet and Happy New Year.  And PEACE, please, please peace!

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Vegan Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms

stuffed artichokes 2

Artichoke bottoms filled with a meat stuffing is a common dish throughout many countries in the Middle East, from Lebanon to Egypt, to Morocco.  In my vegan version, I used crumbled veggie burgers to stand in for the meat.  But the recipe is very flexible and you could use TVP or burger crumbles or even cooked lentils.

The brand of veggie burgers I use are made by Teva Deli.  It doesn’t matter which flavor.  These burgers are made from beans and grains and I love them.  Package looks like this:


You may use whatever veggie burgers you like, or any of the substitutions listed above.  I also used a Yemenite spice mix called Hawaij.  If you live in Israel, make sure you use hawaij for SOUP, not hawaij for coffee, which is a different thing entirely!  If you don’t have hawaij where you live, you may substitute cumin. Also, I used canned artichoke bottoms, but you can always use frozen.  Finally, I did not have pine nuts but really thought they were needed in this dish so I added them to the recipe.  Toast them lightly in the toaster before using.  Keep your eyes on them as they burn quickly and cost a pretty penny.

In case you missed yesterday’s post, I did a round-up of Rosh HaShanah recipes from all over the internet.  Holiday begins in T minus 2…

Vegan Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms

Vegan Stuffed Artichoke Bottoms


  • 2 veggie burgers, thawed
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil (can water saute if you prefer)
  • 1/2 hot pepper (adjust to your desired level of heat or omit entirely)
  • 3 Tbsp pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1/3 cup tomato sauce
  • about 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp Hawaij for marak (or cumin)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 12 artichoke bottoms (this is 3- 390g cans in Israel) if you use frozen, thaw them first
  • Breadcrumbs for topping (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Saute onion, garlic and hot pepper in oil for a few minutes until soft.
  3. Crumble veggie burger into pan and saute until all is mixed.
  4. Add hawaij (or cumin), toasted pine nuts, tomato sauce and just enough water to give it the consistency of a thick bolognese sauce.
  5. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Spread the artichoke bottoms on a pan.
  7. Fill with filling, heaping it on.
  8. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs if desired.
  9. Bake 20 minutes.


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Round-up of Vegan Rosh HaShanah recipes

When I sat down at the end of August to plan out my recipes and posts for Vegan MoFo, (vegan month of food blogging challenge), I faced a bit of a quandary.  I wanted my theme to be Jewish and Middle Eastern foods, veganized, and with the Jewish holidays right around the corner, I wanted to share recipes people could cook and enjoy on their holiday tables.  I composed a list of Jewish and holiday favorites – things like gefilte fish, chopped liver, challah, corn schnitzel, matzo ball soup and honey cake.  Some recipes, like mock chopped liver, I was able to not just veganize, but also healthify. (Mock Liver pate recipe).  Others, such as gefilte fish, seemed like they might be too similar to the vegan tuna salad recipe I blogged.  And still others, like challah, matzo balls, cakes, and corn schnitzels…  well, I could veganize those, no problem.  But having them be healthy as well?  That just didn’t excite me very much.  Sometimes cake just needs to be cake, and challah, challah, white flour and all.  That’s the basis of my food philosophy after all, that not everything has to be “pure” and “healthy”, you can have some fun indulgences too.  And yet, those indulgences can be confusing and triggering to my clients who are struggling with balance, and having the recipes on my actual blog seems like I am PROMOTING something.

I actually DID try a recipe for corn schnitzel as evidenced by the below photos.  It was tasty, but it was fried, used canned corn, sugar, soup mix, etc etc.  I just didn’t have the heart to blog it on a health blog.

SO, I decided that I will devote today’s post to where you can find recipes for some of your Jewish favorites veganized.  Some are healthy, some are not, but ALL are vegan.  You can choose to cook what you will.

If I were going to make a vegan challah, I would make this one by IsaChandra:  Vegan Challah


Nava Atlas makes some delicious looking vegan matzo balls!  Vegan Matzo Balls and soup

matzo balls

Rhea over at The V Word has my vote for gefilte fish:  Vegan Gefilte Fish

geflte fish (1)


Mayim Bialik has a vegan honey cake on kveller that looks good.  I might substitute silan (date syrup) for the agave though.  It would be darker and more “honey” tasting.  Vegan Honey Cake


These are the corn schnitzels I made and then decided not to blog.  Not really applicable to Rosh HaShanah, but yes, Jewish and Israeli.  The recipe needed a lot of tweaking and is in Hebrew:  Vegan Corn Schnitzel

corn schnitzel 4


This Moroccan plait looks like it would make an amazing main dish for a holiday table.  Vegan Moroccan Plait



All of my Vegan MoFo posts from the past 3+ years, most of which had a Jewish or Middle Eastern theme, are here: Triumph Wellness MoFo recipe posts

MoFo Recipe Icon


Veg Kitchen has an AMAZING round up of vegan RH recipes!  Vegan Jewish New Year Recipes



And finally, I wrote an article on Vegan RH foods for Definition Magazine (fitness for vegan women).  It included the above chopped liver, but also my Black-eyed Pea – Pumpkin Curry and my Vegan Stuffed Cabbage!  This issue of Definition is free and entirely online.  It has amazing, amazing content – aside from my recipes – there are other yummy, healthy vegan recipes and fascinating articles on fitness and transformation.  I LOVE being a part of this publication!  You can download it here:  Definition Magazine

vegan stuffed cabbage with tempeh and mushrooms


I will still be back tomorrow and Tuesday with more recipes and then a short break for the holiday.  Then we will finish this MoFo off next week with 2 more on Sunday and Monday.  MoFo finish line in sight.  Holiday cooking for 12 commenced.

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Moroccan Harira Soup

Vegan MoFo Post #15 of 20.  Homestretch.

Harira is a traditional North African soup of Moroccan and Algerian origins.  It typically uses chickpeas, lentils and meat.  Obviously I skipped the meat, but I also subbed out black-eyed peas for the chickpeas because I feel like my diet often ends up being all-chickpea-all-the-time.  Black-eyed peas make a nice change and as they are served by many Jews as one of the traditional simanim for Rosh HaShanah, this soup could be a great one to serve at your holiday table.

Today’s possibly new-to-you ingredient is preserved lemon.  Preserved lemons are just lemons that have been pickled in salt.  In Israel you can buy them where pickled things are sold. (I got mine at the pickle/olive bar at Eden Teva Market).  If you cannot find preserved lemon do not despair.  Just squeeze some fresh lemon juice into the soup before serving.

Here is what preserved lemon (limon kavoosh) looks like whole:

lemon whole


and cut open:

lemon sliced

Moroccan Harira Soup

Moroccan Harira Soup


  • 1 cup dry black-eyed peas or chickpeas
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 potato or celery root or parsnip, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • pinch saffron (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, extra for garnish if desired
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley, extra for garnish if desired
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 preserved lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • z'chug, harissa, hot sauce or hot pepper to your taste


  1. Soak black-eyed peas or chickpeas overnight.
  2. Drain and discard soak water.
  3. Saute onions, carrots and celery in oil until soft.
  4. Add black-eyed peas and 10 cups of water.
  5. Bring to a boil, skim off any foam that surfaces, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.
  6. Add lentils, cumin, cilantro and parsley (you can save a little on the side for garnish)
  7. Simmer, adding more water if necessary, for another 30 minutes.
  8. Cut open the preserved lemon and scrape out the seeds.
  9. Place in food processor.
  10. Quarter the tomatoes and scoop out their seeds.
  11. Add to food processor with lemon.
  12. Process until finely chopped.
  13. Add tomato-lemon slush to pot and cook until all the beans and tender.
  14. Season with z'chug, harissa, hot sauce or hot pepper to your desired level of spiciness.
  15. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and/or cilantro before serving if desired.

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Rose Chai Almond Milk

Today’s Vegan MoFo entry was inspired by my favorite tea:

rose chaiVisotsky Rose Chai

Jewish food writer Claudia Roden, writes in my all-time favorite cookbook, The Book of Jewish Food, that fragrant, rich, homemade almond milk, or Sharbat el Loz, was served in her childhood home in Egypt to break the Yom Kippur fast.  Back in the day, before you could run off to the store for a carton of almond milk, I made it like this all the time.  I also regularly made hazelnut milk, sunflower seed milk, Brazil nut milk, and more.  Now I am lazy and I buy it.  But making this today reminded me that fresh nut milk tastes nothing at all like it’s pre-packaged counterpart.  If you have never made nut milk on your own before, I hope this post will encourage you to give it a try.

You can just flavor your almond milk with dates and vanilla extract or almond extract.  In this recipe I used rose water and cardamom pods to mimic my tea favorite.  The end result is sexy and light, luscious and creamy.  But if you don’t like rose flavor, no need to use it, the recipe template is the same.

The next question I will be asked is where in Israel to get a nut milk bag.  I don’t know that answer, sorry.  I brought one with me when we came here.  But you can use those cloth bags they sell to cook grain on the top of hamin/cholent.  It’s called Sakit Bishul and sold in any cooking store.  It’s a little thicker than my nut milk bag, but it would work.  You can also drink the milk unstrained if you don’t mind a little crushed almond.

Rose Chai Almond Milk


  • 1 cup almonds
  • 3-4 dates, pitted
  • dash sea salt
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp rose water, depending on your taste preference
  • 3 cardamom pods, or 1 tsp ground cardamom


  1. Soak the almonds overnight. They will puff up and look like this:
  2. Drain them and discard the soak water.
  3. Place the almonds in a blender with the cardamom pods and 4 cups of fresh water.
  4. Blend for about 2 minutes until the nuts are ground and the liquid is bright white.
  5. Squeeze the milk through a nut milk bag.
  6. (You can save the nut pulp and toast it and sprinkle it on cereals etc).
  7. Rinse the blender.
  8. Place the strained milk back in the blender and add remaining ingredients.
  9. Blend until smooth.
  10. Serve.
  11. Store remaining milk in the fridge for up to 5-7 days.


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Raw Halvah Bites

In case you don’t know what halvah is , it is a delicious devil’s brew of ground sesame and sugar, and I, its helpless servant of sin.  Here is an alter whereupon we worship it:


 Halvah in Israel is serious business.  It comes in a wide variety of flavors from marble to coffee bean to run raisin to the ever ill-advised passionfruit, poppyseed, and many many more…

Seriously though, as sweets go, halvah is not the unhealthiest, but it will rack up several hundred calories unless you keep your portion size to just a nibble.  My version, although sugarless, is also meant for nibbles.  They also have protein, and calcium and fiber, so you can feel good about that.  And because I know that at least one of you is going to write asking for the calorie count, I did it for you:  If you make 24 balls, each ball has 68 calories, 3.5g fat (ahem), 9.3g carbs, 1.2 g fiber, and 1.5g protein.

If you are not already well acquainted with tahina, I am going to suggest you re-read my tahina tutorial HERE.  This recipe calls for tahina in it’s raw, unadulterated form, sometimes called Sesame Butter, or here in Israel, Tahina Golmit.  Don’t be adding that pre-mixed tahina that has lemon and garlic and spices already in it.  That would be gross.

The strange amounts below are due to the fact that that’s what I had on hand.  Culinary genius, right there.  Must be the middle of Vegan MoFo!

Raw Halvah Bites

Serving Size: 24 balls

Raw Halvah Bites


  • 1/3 cup dry rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup raisins, dark or light
  • 2/3 cup tahina
  • 8 large Medjool dates
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or rose water
  • pinch of sea salt
  • sesame seeds, hemp seeds, coconut, cocoa powder etc for garnish if desired


  1. Grind the oats in the food processor a bit to chop.
  2. Add the raisins and run the food processor until it forms a totally uniform, sticky ball. This will take a couple of minutes and will look like it's not happening, and then suddenly, it will.
  3. Add in the remaining ingredients and process until all mixed and sticky.
  4. You want the final mixture to form a large ball in your machine, so if it's not balling on it's own, add a FEW drops of water until it does.
  5. Roll into about 24 small balls.
  6. Set in refrigerator for 30 minutes or so to harden.
  7. Roll in seeds for garnish if desired.
  8. Store in the fridge.

All of my Vegan MoFo posts from 2014 and 2013 can be found by clicking this link:

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Freekah Pilaf with Crispy Potato Crust

freekah and potatoes plated

Free-what??  Freekah? Huh??

I promise you I did not make that up.  It’s a real thing.  Freekah, is green parched wheat that is fire-roasted, super high in fiber and nutrients, and low glycemic.  It is served throughout the Middle East, usually stuffed into pigeons, heaven help.  Truthfully, I have myself never had it before (the pigeon thing was off-putting obviously), but I must tell you that this stuff is freakin’ amazing!  Freekah amazing more like, har har.  It is smoky and nutty and chewy and yum.

In this dish, the freekah is first steeped in a flavorful broth made from veggies and another possibly new-to-you item – Persian dried limes.  Dried limes, which I think must really be lemons, because limes are rare here, are just lemons (or limes) that sat out so long they became dry and hard. (Much like that petrified orange you found in your child’s backpack on the first day of school after it sat there all summer vacation!)

OK, so I am basically telling you to flavor your dish with rotten food, but it works, you are just going to have to trust me here.

I got the dried limes at my local grocery store, Shufersol, by the G mall in Kfar Saba in the spice kiosk.  They look like this:

dried limes


I got the freekah at Eden Teva market, also in the G Mall in Kfar Saba, in the bulk bins and it looks like this. If you read Hebrew can see that they called it “green wheat” and then, yup, freekah. Told you so.  And also see that vegan friendly sticker in the corner?  Vegans were here.

freekah in bin

If you don’t live here, I am pretty sure these items can be found in either health food stores, Middle Eastern or Indian markets.  In a pinch you could use kamut or wheat berries instead of freekah and just leave out the dried lime, but of course that will produce a totally different result.

NOTE:   There are a couple of options for preparation here.  In the first one, which again came from Joan Nathan’s The Foods of Israel Today, the potato slices are fried in oil and then the freekah is placed on top to steam.  This produces a delicious result, no doubt, but for those of you who avoid frying and are trying to cut down on your oil consumption, you can also roast the potato slices in the oven just sprayed with a little oil spray.  In that case, you will steam the freekah on it’s own and toss the roasted potatoes into the final dish before serving.  Furthermore, if you are avoiding white potatoes for any reason, you could make this with sweet potatoes and that would be delicious also.  If you are avoiding wheat, well, just skip this one!

Also, there is a long prep time here so be sure to read the entire recipe before starting this 30 minutes before company is arriving!  There is nothing at all difficult or complicated, just that you make a veggie broth and then let it cool and steep for a few hours before proceeding.  The broth is incredible so don’t skip this.  The whole thing is incredible – I mean, seriously, we were licking the plates here – every flavor is important here, including that fresh mint, so skip nothing people!  You will really love this dish!

Freekah Pilaf with Crispy Potato Crust

Freekah Pilaf with Crispy Potato Crust


    For the broth:
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • oil to saute (or you can water saute)
  • 4 stalks fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 Persian dried limes, pierced and/or crumbled a bit
  • The rest:
  • 1 cup frika
  • 2 Tbsp oil (if you are frying the potatoes)
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped


  1. Saute onions, garlic, carrots and celery in water or oil until beginning to soften.
  2. Add spices, water and dried limes.
  3. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes until reduced by half in volume.
  4. Turn off heat and leave everything in pot to steep for a few hours. The stronger the broth, the better!
  5. Strain the cooled, steeped broth and throw away the veggies.
  6. Put the freekah in a mixing bowl.
  7. Re-boil the broth and pour over the freekah.
  8. Cover tightly with plastic wrap for 30 minutes so the freekah can absorb all of the broth.
  9. Drain off any leftover broth.
  10. Heat oil in pan (see the post for alternative instructions if you want to skip frying).
  11. Scatter the potato slices into the oil and fry until crispy and lightly golden.
  12. Pile drained freekah on top of the potatoes, cover the pot TIGHTLY and reduce heat to low. The freekah will cook in the steam and be fluffy and delish. This is a good technique for making fluffy rice as well.
  13. Cook for 25 minutes until the freekah is al dente.
  14. When ready to serve, flip the pot onto your serving plate so the potatoes will be on top.
  15. Scrape any crusty bits up and put those on top.
  16. Top with the chopped mint before serving.

All of my Vegan MoFo posts for 2013 and 2014 can be found by clicking this link:

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