Vegetarian Passover recipes from Nosh

Calgary-born, San Francisco-based chef and registered dietitian Micah Siva celebrates the plant-forward side of Jewish cuisine

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Our cookbook of the week is Nosh: Plant-Forward Recipes Celebrating Modern Jewish Cuisine by Calgary-born, San Francisco-based chef and registered dietitian Micah Siva.

Jump to the recipes: savoury pulled mushroom and tofu “brisket,” herbed horseradish salad, and Passover black and white cookies.

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When Micah Siva was growing up in Calgary, her mom, Alyson Grobman, would invite family, friends, friends’ friends and anyone else who didn’t have a place to go for Passover. Last year, in the small San Francisco apartment Siva shares with her husband, Joshua Siva, Buckwheat the sheepadoodle and, now, her four-month-old son, Ari, the chef and registered dietitian hosted three Passover Seders to make sure everyone was taken care of.

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Typically, the matriarch of the family would facilitate the holiday meal, Siva says. At 32, living far away from home, she has become the person doing it for others. “I’m adopting people into my holiday table, even with the baby, and it’s important for me to have people there. I’m adapting a lot of the dishes that mean so much to me and make me feel like I’m a part of my family in Calgary — and making them in a way that I want to eat them and I feel comfortable eating them.”

When her mom hosted Passover Seders for 30-plus people, she made traditional dishes from Norene Gilletz’s The Pleasures of Your Food Processor (a.k.a. “the yellow book,” which Siva calls “the best cookbook that ever was made”). At her holiday table, Siva serves a range of plant-based versions of many of those classic dishes for guests to enjoy mezze-style. She makes vegan “gefilte” cakes and “brisket,” both of which she features in her third book and first cookbook, Nosh (The Collective Book Studio, 2024).

“I’ve turned into my own mother, essentially, is what’s happened, but I made it vegetarian, which is scary,” says Siva, laughing.

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Siva was born and raised in Calgary. In 2011, at 19, she moved to New York City to study plant-based cooking at the Natural Gourmet Institute (now part of the Institute of Culinary Education). After graduating, Siva set her sights on starting a company focused on fermented foods such as tempeh and pickled vegetables. With her student visa running out, she returned to Canada and got a bachelor of science in nutrition and dietetics from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

During her studies, she worked in food product development in an incubation lab and ran a small catering company. Becoming a registered dietitian allowed her to explore food from another angle.

Today, Siva specializes in Jewish cuisine “with a modern and plant-based twist,” which she started to pursue seriously in 2018. She and Joshua (who is her co-author on the children’s counting book 1, 2, 3, Nosh with Me, The Collective Book Studio, 2023) were living in London, England, when her grandmother, Eva Epstein, passed away. “She’s really the person who got me into cooking, and so many of my memories of her are of cooking with her.”

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Unable to make it home to Calgary for the funeral, Siva found solace by making a vegan variation of her grandmother’s kreplach. (She features her “go-to” version in Nosh, with poppy seed-studded dough filled with potato and caramelized onion and served in her turmeric vegetable matzo ball soup.)

“At that point, I realized the food connection that I’d been missing by not being able to experience all of the Jewish foods that I grew up with, and it was such a time of looking for community and comfort. That was a big push for me to start looking at Jewish food through a vegetarian lens — so I could continue and re-enter the world of Jewish food, essentially. Because before, growing up, I’d bring my own food to my grandmother’s house or to holidays, but it was never like I was trying to take a Jewish dish and rethink it into being a vegetarian dish.”

Nosh by Micah Siva book cover
In her third book and first cookbook, Nosh, Micah Siva features plant-forward Jewish cuisine. Photo by The Collective Book Studio

Living in London, Siva found herself at a crossroads in her career and immersed herself in recipe development, food photography and digital marketing. Though the focus has shifted, her background as a chef and registered dietitian underpins her work. In Nosh, she prefaces the 100 vegetarian and vegan recipes with a section about what it means to eat plant-forward meals, answering questions such as, “But how are you going to get your protein?” And, “What about iron?”

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“That section was important because I’m sure there will be some parents — like my mom would have wanted this book when I started to eat vegetarian meals, to say, ‘What am I supposed to feed my kid? And why are they vegetarian? Will they get enough protein?’” says Siva. “Now that I’m a Jewish mother, I get it. I’m just as bad. That chapter is meant for them. That’s kind of, ‘This one’s for you, Mom. We’re totally fine eating no meat.’”

Recognizing that dishes such as brisket and chicken soup have special significance for many families, Siva highlights the importance of meeting people where they are — something that became clear to her through her work as a dietitian and as a vegetarian growing up in Cowtown.

Going “cold Tofurky,” as Siva puts it, isn’t necessary. “It was made to be a book for anyone who does or doesn’t eat meat, and it was made to be a book for Jews and non-Jews alike. It’s important for us all to diversify our bookshelves. Just like I buy Korean cookbooks and Indian cookbooks to diversify my palate at home, Jewish food is another cuisine that you can learn about whether you grew up with it or not.”

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Siva features holiday and everyday menus in Nosh and intends the book to be a weeknight companion as much as a festive one. Simplicity was a priority with the recipes, as was a diverse sampling of Jewish food spanning the diaspora.

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Some recipes, such as bagels and a celeriac “pastrami” sandwich, are variations on deli favourites. Others, like savoury pulled mushroom and tofu “brisket” and vegan matzo balls, are plant-based takes on classic Ashkenazi dishes, while the likes of spiced cauliflower chraime, chickpea and olive shakshuka and Moroccan-spiced roasted carrot and chickpea salad draw on the North African Jewish diaspora. Tahini mac and cheese noodle kugel marries a Levantine ingredient and a childhood love of Kraft Dinner in a quintessential holiday dish.

Nosh is a celebration of “modern Jewish cuisine,” which, to Siva, means food rooted in heritage that takes ingredients or inspiration from across the diaspora.

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“It’s food that honours tradition but also adapts with the current climate, both environmental and the climate of how people eat — and adapts so that for the next generations, even if the food climate changes across the globe with global warming and everything else that’s terrifying that’s going on, it will continue to live with them. So, as there’s a rise in plant-based eating, the modern Jewish cuisine part of it is adapted with how the food trends of the world are moving.”

Siva eats differently than her parents did growing up in rural Saskatchewan and Saskatoon, as well as her grandparents and great-grandparents before them. “The Jewish food shouldn’t stop with me because I don’t eat meat. Jewish food can adapt and grow and take on new shapes and forms while still honouring what they ate. It’s how Jewish food can continue when someone stops eating gluten, dairy or meat. We all have to adapt to survive. That’s being a human, and that’s how I see the ‘modern Jewish food’ aspect of it.”


Savoury pulled mushroom and tofu 'brisket'
“If you eat soy, then this is a perfect Passover main dish,” Micah Siva says of her savoury pulled mushroom and tofu “brisket.” She suggests omitting the tofu and just adding the mushrooms if you don’t eat kitniyot (legumes) during Passover. Photo by Micah Siva

Serves: 6
On the table in: 1 hour 30 minutes

Vegan | Gluten-free

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1 1/2 lb (680 g) king trumpet mushrooms
1 (14-oz/397-g) block extra-firm tofu (see note)
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbsp soy sauce, or gluten-free tamari, if preferred (see note)
2 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups dry red wine
1 cup ketchup
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp mustard powder

2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 400F (200C).

Step 2: Make the ‘brisket’

Use two forks to shred the mushrooms into strips. Put them in a large bowl.

Drain the tofu. Using the largest holes of a box grater, grate the tofu into the bowl with the mushrooms. Add the olive oil, soy sauce, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and black pepper and toss with the mushrooms and tofu until well combined.

Transfer the mushroom and tofu mixture to a large rimmed sheet pan and spread it into an even layer. Roast for 30 minutes, or until golden. Set aside.

Step 3: Make the sauce

While the mushrooms are roasting, in a blender or food processor, puree the onion, garlic, red wine, ketchup, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, thyme, and mustard powder until smooth.

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Pour the sauce over the roasted mushroom and tofu mixture, stirring until evenly distributed. The liquid will evaporate while it roasts, making a thick sauce.

Return the sheet pan to the oven and roast for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the mushrooms and tofu are deep brown.

Step 4

Serve topped with the chopped parsley.

Notes: Store in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, thaw and transfer to a baking dish. Bake at 350F (177C) until heated through. To make this kosher for Passover, be sure to use a Passover-friendly soy sauce alternative. If you don’t eat kitniyot (legumes) during Passover, omit the tofu.

Variation: For a less traditional, yet very tasty, flavour more similar to a pulled barbecue “beef,” in lieu of ketchup, try adding your favourite barbecue sauce.


Herbed horseradish salad
“This salad is a vibrant side for Passover or at any time of the year, with fresh herbs, tangy dressing and an addictive almond crunch topping,” writes Micah Siva. Photo by Micah Siva

Serves: 6
On the table in: 25 minutes

Vegan | Gluten-free | Passover-friendly

Almond crunch topping:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup almond flakes
2 tbsp fennel seeds
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt

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1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp prepared horseradish
1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
1/2 cup olive oil

4 cups torn butter lettuce
1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
1 head radicchio, thinly sliced
1/2 English cucumber, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch (1.25-cm) pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Step 1: Make the almond crunch

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the olive oil, almond flakes, fennel seeds, sliced garlic, and sunflower seeds and cook until the almonds and garlic begin to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. The garlic should be crisp. Remove from the heat, add the sea salt, and mix well.

Transfer the mixture to a heatproof dish and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to an airtight jar or container and store in a cool, dark place for up to 3 days.

Step 2: Make the dressing

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, horseradish, and maple syrup. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and whisk until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Step 3: Make the salad

Combine the butter lettuce, fennel, radicchio, cucumber, parsley, dill, basil, and chives in a large bowl.

Toss with the dressing and the almond crumble before serving.

Note: This recipe is a great way to use up leftover herbs. Feel free to substitute any fresh, leafy herbs you have on hand, like mint, tarragon, or cilantro.

Variation: The magic in this recipe lies in the almond crunch topping, which is a Passover-friendly crouton alternative. Substitute your favourite chopped nuts for the almonds, add a thinly sliced shallot, or add a chopped chili pepper for a little extra heat. If you don’t eat kitniyot during Passover, omit the fennel seeds and sunflower seeds and replace them with additional Passover-friendly nuts like cashews or pistachios.


Assorted cookies, including Passover black and white cookies
Passover black and white cookies, pictured with an assortment from Nosh, “hold a special place in our household,” writes Micah Siva. Photo by Micah Siva

Makes: 8 cookies
On the table in: 2 hours 30 minutes, including 1 hour of resting time

Vegan | Gluten-free | Passover-friendly

1 1/2 cups almond flour, sifted
1/4 cup arrowroot starch
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp melted coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

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1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 to 2 tbsp water
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp light agave syrup or corn syrup
2 to 3 tbsp cocoa powder

Step 1: Make the cookies

In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, arrowroot starch, baking powder, and salt. Add the coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice and mix well until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F (177C). Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.

Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and roll them into balls. Transfer the balls to the prepared sheet pan and press each one into 1/2-inch (1.25-cm) -thick circles. Note: The cookies will not spread.

Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, or until just golden. Let cool on the sheet pan for at least 20 minutes, or until fully cool. Icing warm cookies will make them appear messy, and the icing will not set.

Step 2: Make the frosting

In a medium bowl, combine the powdered sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and water, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking to combine. The frosting should be quite thick and run off the spoon in thick ribbons, holding its shape for 2 to 3 seconds before settling back into the bowl. Whisk in the agave.

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Divide the frosting equally between 2 bowls. To one bowl, add the cocoa powder. If it looks too thick, add an additional 1 to 2 teaspoons of water.

Step 3

Using an offset spatula, spread the vanilla frosting on one half of the bottom (flat) side of the cookie. Place the cookie on a clean sheet pan. Repeat with the rest of the cookies, place in the refrigerator, and let rest for 20 minutes, until the frosting is set.

Step 4

Spread the chocolate frosting on the other side of the cookies and return them to the refrigerator to set, about 20 minutes.

Note: To store, place the cookies on a parchment-lined sheet pan in a single layer, frosting side up, and freeze until solid. Transfer the cookies to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Black and whites are frosted on the bottom, flat side of the cookie.

Substitution: Use corn syrup in place of agave and standard vanilla extract and baking powder, if making them outside of Passover. If making these during Passover, use kosher for Passover versions of the ingredients.

Recipes and images excerpted from Nosh: Plant-Forward Recipes Celebrating Modern Jewish Cuisine. Text and photographs copyright ©2024 by Micah Siva. Published by The Collective Book Studio.

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