Vegan Sweet Potato Kreplach (Photo/Micah Siva)
Vegan Sweet Potato Kreplach (Photo/Micah Siva)

A plant-based Rosh Hashanah meal that’s good for you, and for the planet

In my family, like many Jewish families, the holidays revolved around food. My grandmother would prepare enough brisket to feed an army, fold dozens of tiny meat kreplach to float in her famous chicken soup, and whip up chopped liver for piling onto rye crackers.

Needless to say, when I told my family that I no longer wanted to eat meat, hearts were broken and chaos ensued. Luckily, with time and a lot of experimentation, they’ve come to accept that not only is plant-based food delicious, but replacing meat in our diet is beneficial for our health and the health of the planet.

Incorporating more plant-based foods (with a focus on nutrient-dense foods, whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables) has been shown to improve heart health, reduce risk of certain cancers, prevent and/or manage conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, lower blood pressure and maintain a healthy weight.

Reducing meat consumption also helps our planet. The production of meat is a major contributor to greenhouse gasses (methane) and deforestation. With climate change at our doorstep, now is the time to dust off that can of beans and try something new. Rest assured, you don’t need to go “cold turkey.” Instead, try a new recipe this week, month or holiday season in lieu of your meat-filled centerpiece.

While many of my own childhood meals were centered around meat, it was not uncommon to enjoy a meatless dairy meal. In fact, I would argue that with its milchig and parve recipes, kosher cuisine is well positioned for a plant-based diet.

RELATED: How much will your Rosh Hashanah brisket cost this year?

The world of plant-based eating was drastically different in my childhood than it is today. The only options in the protein department then were cans of beans, a sad block of tofu or a handful of nuts. Today there are more options and more buzz around plant-based foods than ever before.

The holiday season is the perfect time to start experimenting with some plant-based nosh. This year, try replacing your chicken soup with a vegetable soup (I like mine with sweet potato kreplach), swapping your brisket for beans, or simply buying and preparing less meat and including more vegetable sides at your holiday meal. Think outside the box and serve a parve meal with Israeli mezze such as hummus, salads and falafel for a new tradition the whole family will love. You can start with my Vegan Sweet Potato Kreplach and Moroccan Spiced Cauliflower and Sweet Potatoes.

Vegan Sweet Potato Kreplach

Makes about 3 dozen

For the filling (about 1 cup):

  • 1 large sweet potato, baked and peeled
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • ½ large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste

For the dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs. cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ½ to ¾ cup water
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil

For assembly:

  • 1 Tbs. cornstarch
  • ¼ cup water

1. Prepare the filling: Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a baking tray with foil. Pierce sweet potato, and bake for 40-50 minutes until tender. Peel, set aside.

2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, and cook until golden, stirring occasionally, for about 20-25 minutes.

3. Reduce heat to low. Add the garlic, cooking for an additional 15-20 minutes. Add to the sweet potato and mash. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Make the dough: Combine flour, 1 Tbs. cornstarch, turmeric, salt, ½ cup water and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor and process until a dough forms. Add more water as needed, 1 Tbs. at a time. Cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

5. Combine 1 Tbs. cornstarch and water in a small bowl.

6. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to ⅛-inch thickness. Using a small knife, cut into 3-by-3-inch squares.

7. With your finger, run the cornstarch mixture around the edges of each square.

8. Place 1 tsp. of filling in the middle of the square. Fold into a triangle, and join the ends.

9. Set aside and repeat with all the dough and filling.

10. Cook in boiling water for 3-4 minutes, or until the kreplach float to the surface.

11. Serve in a bowl of soup, or fried with onions.

Moroccan Spiced Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Salad

Serves 4

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric
  • ¼ tsp. cumin
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1 tsp. ginger, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 red onion, sliced into half moons
  • 2 Tbs. chopped preserved lemons (or ¼ cup chopped green olives)
  • ¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 Tbs. sesame seeds

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a tray with baking paper.

2. Combine olive oil, spices, honey, ginger and salt.

3. Drizzle oil mixture over cauliflower, potatoes and onions. Transfer to the baking tray.

4. Roast for 30-35 minutes or until tender.

5. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with preserved lemons, mint, pomegranate, zest and sesame. Enjoy!

Moroccan Spiced Cauliflower (Photo/Micah Siva)
Moroccan Spiced Cauliflower (Photo/Micah Siva)
Micah Siva
Micah Siva

Micah Siva is a registered dietitian and trained chef in San Francisco. She develops modern Jewish recipes inspired by her grandmother, with a plant-forward twist. See her recipes and photography at Nosh with Micah.