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A Vegan Passover?!

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If retweeting is re-posting a twitter feed, what's the word for re-blogging a Facebook status update? Retatting? This is a retat. Last night I got so excited I mentioned this on my Facebook page. A vegan friend is coming for Passover, and while concocting vegan main courses and a dessert is fairly brainless (see these excellent vegan main courses from F&W and desserts from Babycakes vegan bakery), I got kind of addled at the idea that anyone might feel left out during the requisite courses of gefilte fish and matzo ball soup. The soup was easy: I made my vegetable broth look like chicken stock by browning the onions in a little olive oil before simmering them in water. Then I added big florets of cauliflower, which look a lot like matzo balls, and simmered them until soft.

Vegan gefilte fish was the stumper. Gefilte fish, for me, is mostly just an excuse to clear my sinuses: The bland quenelles of whitefish taste best swirled in peppery beet horseradish. (They're also a fun way to paint your plate purple.) So what's bland, holds together in quenelle form without eggs, and goes well with a peppery beet-colored condiment? It only came to me at about 11 pm: chickpea cakes! My recipe: Sauté a finely minced quarter of a white onion (or 2 large shallots) in 2 tablespoons of olive oil with a pinch of dried thyme and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. Add the rinsed chickpeas from one 15-oz can, cover and simmer until just heated through. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool. Add 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Mash the heck out of the peas with a potato masher and form into 1/4-cup mini-footballs. Cover and refrigerate before serving. We'll see how they go over at this evening's seder. But three of them made for a lovely midnight snack last night.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

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