• February 1, 2023

Vegetarian Chopped Liver for Passover and All Year Round

The only thing better than a good recipe? When something is so easy to do that you don’t even need one. Welcome to As simple as that, a column in which we explain the process of preparing food and drinks that we can prepare with our eyes closed.

I love chopped liver, the creamy, umami-rich chicken liver pate (originally goose) that is a popular icon of Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine. I love wiping through a piece of challah or laying a crispy sheet of matzo under a fluffy layer Passover. I love that making minced liver is an act of thrift: a waste-free dish made by Jewish grandmothers from a less desirable part of the chicken long before the nose-to-tail cooking began. Although I like minced liver, I love vegetarian minced liver even more.

I understand how meat-free chopped liver can sound blasphemous, like mayonnaise on a pastrami sandwich. But spread, also called false liver, has a legitimate place in that Jewish-American food canon. By the mid-20th century, it was a staple on the menus of the many “dairy restaurants” in New York City that were the meat-free cousins ​​of delis. With kosher laws forbidding milk and meat to be mixed on the same plate or at the same meal, people flocked to the deli to prepare corned beef and pastrami, and to dairy restaurants – best known at Ratner’s on the Lower East Side – for farm cheese-blintze potato tats and pierogi with sour cream and ruby ​​red borscht turned pink with cream.

Old-school versions of vegetarian chopped liver were typically made from canned green peas or beans smashed into a creamy, tawny spread with plenty of fried onions and mushrooms, or sometimes eggplant. Some recipes included walnuts, hard-boiled eggs, or crushed crackers. As for photogenic dishes, it wasn’t exactly an eye catcher. But it was and is deeply desirable.

More modern versions of the vegetarian chopped liver tend to use fresher ingredients, but use the same approach to layering the ingredients to mimic the smooth texture and savory-sweet taste of the original. As a Jew Cookbook authorOver the years I have developed several recipes for “veg liv” (as my husband and I affectionately call it) that use kidney beans and lentils as a base. But my favorite iteration is a Passover-friendly, cashew-based version that skips the legumes entirely. (Strictly observant Ashkenazi Jews avoid them during the week-long vacation.)

How to do it:

Start by soaking 1 cup of raw cashew nuts Cover in cold enough water for at least 30 minutes (or up to 2 hours). Meanwhile, boil hard 3 eggs, peel and quarter them and set aside until needed.

heat ¼ cup neutral vegetable oil Fry (like grape seed or safflower) in a large pan over medium heat and sauté 1 large onion, finely chopped Soak in the oil for 8–10 minutes until it is soft and lightly browned. Add 1 pound stalked and finely chopped crimini mushrooms and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1 TBSP. light brown sugar and ¾ TL. kosher saltThen take the pan off the heat and let the mixture cool slightly.

Drain the cashew nuts and add to one High performance mixer or Food processor together with ¼ cup of water, the onion and mushroom mixture (use a rubber spatula to scrape all the aromatic oil from the pan into the blender), the hard-boiled eggs, 1 teaspoon. sweet peppers, ½ tsp. Onion powder, and ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper. Blend or pulse until creamy and with a little texture left. Try the mixture and add a little more salt if you’d like.

The naturally creamy texture of mixed cashew nuts melts with the pile of browned onions and mushrooms into a decadent spread I crave during Passover and all year round. Does it taste just like real chopped chicken liver? No of course not. It is better.

Leah Koenig is a cookbook writer and writer based in New York City.

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