Rabbi Norry’s Verdant, Vegan Pesach

Rabbi Norry’s Verdant, Vegan Pesach

Rabbi Hillel Norry offers suggestions with meaning for having a fresh, verdant vegan Passover diet representative of spring along with the modification of traditional recipes to be kosher for Passover.

After 37 years with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and now with the AJT, , Jaffe’s focus is lifestyle, art, dining, fashion, and community events with emphasis on Jewish movers and shakers.

This colorful vegan lunch exemplifies Rabbi Norry’s bill of fare.
This colorful vegan lunch exemplifies Rabbi Norry’s bill of fare.

Noted vegan chef Rabbi Hillel Norry has provided a guidepost for observing Passover without the traditional use of meats, fish, eggs, and dairy products.

He stated, “Passover is the perfect Jewish holiday for vegan eating. Highlighting the return of green and growth to the Earth, the Torah calls Passover, ‘Chag Ha’aviv,’ the festival of spring, an ideal time to lean into fresh vegetables and to center them in your seders. A lot of recipes can be modified to meet the kashrut rules for the holiday, though I like to keep it simple.”

Those of us who shop for Passover staples and luxuries from balsamic vinegar to “bagel” and do-nut mix, and duck sauce, equivocate over balancing price and taste.

While Norry appreciates the convenience of these products, he has a different slant, “Passover is a return to simpler, more natural eating, and a way to reconnect with G-d and nature as the Earth returns to spring and verdure. I buy what I need, but I spend more time and money in the farmers market than in the kosher aisle at the supermarket.”

Rabbi Hillel Norry has long been an outspoken advocate of a vegan diet. During the warmer months, he can be seen working in his garden of plenty in his backyard.

Passover has several dietary rules and stringencies, but there are some leniencies that Rabbi Norry recommends.

“First, I eat kitniyot (beans, lentils, rice, and their derivatives). Many Ashkenazim don’t, but they are not chametz, and they are permissible for Passover. In addition, products that do not have any chametz, if bought before the holiday, may be used during Passover if you burn/cancel your chametz (ask your rabbi how to do it.)”

In this writer’s Caller household, items like orange juice, raisins, EEOV, and honey were bought fresh for Pesach, but not with a “P” heksher.

In terms of passed-down family and more traditional non-vegan dishes, Norry’s mother, Sharon, made both chopped liver and gefilte fish.

Rabbi Norry recalled, “While my preference used to be for her homemade gefilte fish, I inherited her recipe for mock liver recipe.”

At the beginning of the holiday, he prepares it and makes a large pot of tomato sauce from scratch, vegetable stock, and apple sauce also from scratch as staples that last the entire holiday. As far as commercial matzo (versus making his own), Norry does use it but sparingly.

He summarized, “We have all the traditional symbolic foods — green vegetables, charoset, maror (made by the Chrayn Gang previously featured in the AJT). I always highlight the fresh vegetables for dinner.”

This year, Norry plans to serve mushroom stackers, potato gratin or rice, and oven roasted beets and carrots (his “take” on tsimmes). He makes a potato bread pizza crust, to add to his homemade red sauce, this year adding a kosher for Passover cashew cheese.

“I’ll let you know how it comes out,” he proffers.

Norry is often asked about the egg (non-vegan) and shank (meat) bone on the seder plate. The seder plate has those two cooked dishes that are symbolic of the meaning of the holiday. The egg is a symbol of spring and new beginnings. He uses lentils instead, as they are also a symbol of renewal. For the bone, he roasts red beets and explains, “The redness hints at the blood of the Passover sacrifice, and beets are mentioned as the preferred dish of one of the Talmudic rabbis. Part of our family’s Passover is to tell the story of liberating animals, too.”

Norry announced that he will wind down his rabbinical position at Temple Beth David after Passover, before starting as Rabbi at Beth Shalom in Columbia, S.C., in July.

For mushroom stackers, see https://www.facebook.com/1467666558/posts/pfbid02KqY9gS4EbPa71f2m35U9WwGJtJ3ujgZ5KDHaS3Kztk7qPetURedqStpsay3UgvZpl/? 

Norry’s Vegan Recipes

Mock Liver 
1 cup browned onions
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup button mushrooms
– Salt and pepper to taste
– Add all to the food processor and chill before serving.

Sharon’s Passover Granola
2 1/2 cups farfel
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1 cup almonds

-On a cookie sheet, combine and bake at 325 for 15 minutes till toasty (not cooked)
– Mix, heat on stove, and add to farfel:
1/4 cup margarine or oil
1/4 cup brown/white sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 salt
Cinnamon to taste
– Spread on a jelly roll pan. Bake at 250 until golden, stirring regularly. Add raisins, chopped dates, or other dried fruit after removing from oven.
– Cool quickly on a second tray of ice cubes. Cool completely before storing.

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