Vegetarian food brought Cantor Jenna Greenberg and Rabbi Josh Ginsberg together. The two met as students at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, when a classmate organized a singles dinner at a kosher vegetarian restaurant in Chinatown.
Now married, the two settled in Dayton, Ohio, two years ago. Ginsberg is the rabbi at Beth Abraham Synagogue, Dayton’s only Conservative congregation, while Greenberg leads the music program at Hillel Academy, the city’s Jewish day school.
Ginsberg says he neither encourages his congregants to become vegetarians nor discourages them from eating meat.
“People know I’m a vegetarian, but I don’t engage in proselytizing vegetarianism,” he says. “Jewish tradition allows that one can eat meat. I really applaud the trend of some who are trying to create ethical, eco-kashrut, and small-scale slaughtering where animals are fed a better diet and treated better.”
A few times a year, Greenberg and Ginsberg have prepared vegetarian entrees alongside meat dishes for Shabbat dinners at the synagogue. They’ve received rave reviews from congregants.
Here, they offer a kosher-for-Passover seder menu that suits their vegetarian lifestyle. All recipes yield eight to 10 servings.
Roman Soup with Passover Dumplings
3-4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil or other vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, small dice
1 celery stalk, chopped
6 cups chopped mixed greens
6 cups vegetable broth or water
Salt and pepper to taste
Saute chopped onion in oil until translucent over medium-low heat. Add carrot and celery and cook until vegetables are softened, stirring occasionally. Stir in mixed chopped greens. When vegetables are wilted, add soup stock.
Bring to a boil then simmer for 45 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add one to two tablespoons Passover dumplings per serving. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Passover Soup Dumplings
2 cups mashed potatoes
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup Passover cake meal
1-2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Optional: 1 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley or basil
Mix all potatoes, eggs, and cake meal, adding additional meal to form a dough that is pliable and not too sticky.
Bring water to a boil in a two- to three-quart pot.
Form small balls out of the dough and carefully slide them into the water to bring them to a boil.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the dumplings from the pot as they rise to the top and transfer to a container, adding oil.
Potato Spinach Gnocchi
2 pounds potatoes
1 1/2 cups potato starch
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tsp. salt
1 pound cooked, finely chopped spinach (frozen or fresh)
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
Reserve: 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Optional: 1 cup ricotta cheese for richer gnocchi
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Peel, boil, and mash potatoes. Add remaining ingredients to create the gnocchi dough, adding additional potato starch in case dough is too sticky.
Fill a four- to six-quart pot with cold water and bring to a boil. While the water is heating, form small patties out of the gnocchi and carefully slide them, one at a time, into the water.
When the gnocchi rise to the top of the pot, they are ready. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pot and place them in an oiled baking dish.
Sprinkle with parmesan and bake 10-15 minutes to melt cheese.
Tomato Sauce for Gnocchi
2-3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil or other cooking oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup of parsley, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 cans crushed or stewed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
Heat oil in saute pan; add onion and garlic and cook on low heat until translucent.
Add parsley, bay leaf, tomatoes, and tomato paste. Bring to a low boil; reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Mushroom Quinoa Pilaf
1 cup red, black, or mixed quinoa
2 cups water
Vegetable soup broth or salt to taste
Medley of portabella, cremini, and white mushrooms
Olive oil for cooking
Splash of balsamic vinegar
4 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
Rinse quinoa. Saute in nonstick pan for five minutes, tossing regularly to avoid burning. Combine with water and broth in medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
Heat oil in medium saucepan; add garlic. Once the garlic is lightly browned, add mushrooms and vinegar. Saute until mushrooms are well cooked.
Toss mushrooms in with the quinoa and serve.
2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes (about 4 large), sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup packed fresh basil
3 to 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
On a large platter, arrange tomato, mozzarella, and basil, alternating and overlapping them. Sprinkle salad with oregano and arugula, and drizzle with oil. Season salad with salt and pepper.
Recipes have not been tested by New Jersey Jewish News; therefore, the staff may be unable to answer readers’ questions.