Since I started the series about Shabbat overnight stews, many people have asked me for a vegetarian option.
My answer in most cases is that simply omitting the meat and the marrow bones from the regular traditional cholent will give really good results, as the long cooking can bring out the deep flavors out of (well, almost) anything.
But while reading Shmil Holland’s wonderful cookbook Schmaltz (in Hebrew only, I wish it will get translated to English!) I’ve found an interesting option.
Shmil is an Israeli food historian specializing in Ashkenazi food in a country where this cuisine doesn’t get much respect. In his book he describes how the cooks in his grandmother’s village in Poland used to add porcini mushrooms to the cholent regularly, together with the meat. I tried preparing a vegetarian version with the porcini and it really gave the dish a distinctive earthy flavor.
You can try and explore traditions other than Polish to get inspired and to add interest to your vegetarian (or any other) cholent or chamin.
In Tuscan chamin recipes, for example, Swiss chard is steamed with onion, garlic and parsley (OK, with chicken patties too...) and is kept aside until lunch time on Shabbat. It is then added to the casserole just before serving, so the heat from the chamin can heat it as well.
Or check the Moroccan d’fina, a Shabbat stew made of chickpeas and spices such as cinnamon and turmeric. Or the Libyan chamin recipe, in which beets are placed on the bottom of the pot and the rest of the ingredients are arranged on top.
My vegetarian version has Shmil’s grandmother’s porcini, dried fava beans and a bag of seasoned rice, for a full meal in a casserole. Serve it with a fennel and kohlrabi salad and pickled cucumbers or turnips.
This is the last of the series of Shabbat dishes, at least for now. Please send us your own family’s recipes for Shabbat overnight stews and we will publish the best of them.
For more recipes, check out Food and Wine on Haaretz.com
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