Favorite spice, Za’atar (Vegan Mofo 2015)

Vegan mofo tomato

zaatarbreadThe prompt today is what is your favorite herb or spice?  Sticking with our theme of foods from Palestine I naturally chose za’atar as my favorite spice.  Za’atar is wild thyme, ground together with sesame seeds, and possibly salt, caraway seeds, flax seeds, and sumac.

Typically people will dip bread in oil and then into the za’atar.  It is also baked or fried on flat bread.  Or you can just sprinkle it onto your freshly baked bread.

Where can you find za’atar?  Well you can find it in any store that sells Middle Eastern or Mediterranean foods.  If you don’t live near a specialty international food store, you can order it from the Canaan Fair Trade Shop.  While you are there order some of their amazing olive oil and olives.

So what can you make with za’atar besides sprinkling on bread?  Well you can add it to just about anything you would make with thyme.

You can make pizza as seen on this post for the Fusion Challenge.

Add it to your fried potatoes with peppers and onions.  Here I had some with biscuits and almond gravy.


Make some pita chips to enjoy with hummus.


makingrollsMake your own Palestinian style bread-sticks, like we enjoyed during our stay in Aqqaba.  To make my mini rolls, I bought some pre-made pizza dough, sprinkled on za’atar, rolled them and baked them until they turned golden.


The possibilities are endless.  Enjoy! #veganmofo, #vgnmf15



Fusion Challenge (Vegan MoFo 2015)

Vegan mofo tomatoFor this day’s prompt, I chose one of my favorite meals, pizza! I combined it with my new favorite spice from Palestine, za’atar! This was a simple dish made from what I had on hand in the fridge. I used this easy recipe for a thick sicilian-style pizza crust. For toppings I used Follow Your Heart mozzarella, shiitake bacon, onions, tomatoes, and a nice sprinkling of za’atar. Perfection!
veganmofo pizza - 1

veganmofo pizza2 - 1-Amber

Bameih (Palestinian okra and tomatoes) – fresh and local


For today’s prompt to make a dish entirely from seasonal produce, I chose the Palestinian dish, bameih (okra with tomatoes). You need baby okra for this dish, which I was thrilled to find in my food co-op from a fresh from a local farm. The tomatoes I used were from my garden. In the winter you can use frozen baby okra and a can of fire roasted tomatoes.


1 onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 Tbs. olive oil

2 lbs. baby okra, stems trimmed

4 roma (paste) tomatoes, seeded, chopped, and liquified in the blender

3 ripe tomatoes, chopped


2 hot chili peppers, chopped (optional)

Heat the oil and cook the onions on low heat until they are lightly caramelized and browned. Add the garlic and cook two minutes. Add the okra, tomatoes, liquified tomatoes, and salt. Cook 30-40 minutes until the okra is tender. Serve with rice.

Being progressive except #Palestine is like being #vegan except bacon

#veganmofo #vgnmf15




Vegan Anti-Zionist Sweet Potato Challah

Vegan Challah

I began working on my vegan challah recipe around the time my son was five years old. While raising my vegan son and daughter within the traditional reform Jewish American community, I have always taught them that occupation is neither a Jewish nor vegan value. Along with hebrew school and Jewish summer camp, I have raised them as members of the organization Jewish Voice for Peace. I have taught them to recognize zionism as a racist ideology rooted in ethnic cleansing. A Jewish state which by nature privileges one ethnic/religious group over others is inherently unequal, undemocratic, and racist.

On April 26, 2014 I had the great pleasure of watching my son become a bar mitzvah. For his d’var torah speech, he he told our congregation, friends and family that the Torah commands us to love thy neighbor and love the stranger. Israel, he said is in serious violation of this. He went on to explain that as long as Israel is committing crimes against humanity through their occupation of Palestine and human rights abuses the Jewish people have a responsibility to speak out. His speech was published on the Jewish Voice for Peace rabbinical blog. Click on the link below to read his speech.

Love Thy Palestinian Neighbor

Recipe for vegan anti-zionist sweet potato challah: 

3/4 cup warm water

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup sweet potato puree

4 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup vital wheat gluten flour

1 tsp. salt

1/4 cup sugar

2 tsp. yeast

Put the ingredients in a bread machine on dough cycle. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Braid the dough, cover it with a warm wet dish towel and allow it to rise 20-30 minutes or until it has doubled in size. Back 25-35 minutes until it is golden brown.

By Ariel Gold

Being Progressive except #Palestine is like being #Vegan except bacon. 

#veganmofo #vgnmf15

#MyJewishValues#MyVeganValues #OccupationIsNotAJewishValue #OccupationIsNotAVeganValue

Vegan mofo tomato



Palestinian Hospitality is Like No Other (Vegan MoFo 2015)

Vegan mofo tomato
Vegan MoFo Day 14: Share something delicious & vegan with a non-vegan

In our travels to Palestine, we experienced some of the most generous, kind, and accommodating people we have ever met. As vegans, traveling anywhere, let alone abroad can be challenging and even daunting at times. We knew that Middle-Eastern cuisine was fairly vegan-friendly before our travels to Palestine, but knowing we would spend some time staying overnight in people’s homes, we were not always sure what to expect. We were also told that some folks may not understand what is meant by the term “vegan” so we made sure to spell out our dietary needs by saying things like “we don’t eat meat, fish, dairy, or eggs.”

We were amazed beyond belief, time after time, when our hosts spoiled us with vegan fare such as creamy hummus, crispy fried falafel, Arabic salad, mo’ajjanat manaeesh (za’atar Palestinian pizza), vegetable maqlobeh (upside down rice), and mujaddara (lentil and bulgur casserole). When we were staying in Aqqaba, near Jenin with our host Asma and her wonderful family, she surprised us one day with vegan pizza on homemade dough topped with corn, mushrooms, black olives, and other yummy veggies. VeganMofo14 - 1She also made two different kinds of breadsticks stuffed with either za’atar or jelly.
VeganMofo14 - 2 VeganMofo14 - 3 VeganMofo14 - 4The meal was accompanied by a delicious lime drink and ended with a plate of fresh fruit consisting of pears, grapes, apples, and figs.
VeganMofo14 - 5 VeganMofo14 - 6The food, company, and gracious nature of the Palestinian people we met was unmatched by any in our experiences. People gave up their beds for us, allowed us to take showers even if there were water restrictions placed on them by Israel, and were always generous with food, drink, gifts, and laughter. We will never forget their hospitality, nor their struggle.


Fatayer (Palestinian spinach pies) and the manmade malnourishment crisis in Gaza


Fatayar (meaning savory little bundle of dough in arabic) is a Palestinian spinach pie rich in iron and vitamin C.

According to Reed Mangles, editor of Simply Vegan,” beans and dark green leafy vegetables [like spinach] are especially good sources of iron, even better on a per calorie basis than meat. Iron absorption is increased markedly by eating foods containing vitamin C along with foods containing iron.”

While the spinach and lemon in fatayar should is an excellent source of absorbable iron, the Israeli siege on Gaza is causing a manmade malnourishment crisis among the children of Gaza. According to Dr. Mads Gilbert’s report to the UNRWA, ” the prevalence of anaemia in children <2yrs in Gaza is at 72.8%, while prevalence of wasting, stunting, underweight have been documented at 34.3%, 31.4%, 31.45% respectively”. Along with Israel’s three massive military assaults on Gaza within a six year period (the Jul-August 2014 assault alone killing over 550 children) in 2012 it was release that senior Israel was causing intentional malnutrition in Gaza for the purpose of collective punishment. The plan devised and implemented by senior Israeli officials involved, “put[ting] the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” (Electronic Intifada, 2012). To do this, Israeli health officials calculated the minimum number of calories needed by Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants to avoid malnutrition. They then translated those numbers into the maximum number of truckloads of food they would allow in each day (Electronic Intifada, 2012).

Children Gaza

As ethical vegans, when thinking and blogging about nutrients, we must not only think about vegan sources iron, vitamin C, and other nutrients, but actively work to end the injustices that are causing the children of Gaza to suffer. May the following fatayar recipe inspire us all to work to end the Israeli siege on Gaza and bring about a just peace in Palestine and Israel.

Fatayar (Palestinian Spinach Pies)

For the dough:
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 ¼ cups warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil, plus2-3 tablespoons olive oil, to coat the fatayar and the pans

Proof the yeast by dissolving it in ¼ cup warm water with the sugar and letting it activate for about 15 minutes.

Whisk together the flour and salt in a mixer bowl or medium bowl. Create a well in the center and add the oil and proofed yeast mixture. Using a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment or by hand, slowly work the wet ingredients into the dry, adding the 1 cup of water slowly. Hold back 1/8 cup and add only as necessary to create a sticky dough.

Knead by hand or with the dough hook in the mixer until the dough is very soft, smooth, and tacky/sticky to the touch (but it should not leave dough on your fingers when touched). The kneading by hand can be awkward at first because it’s such a wet mess, but as you knead, the dough will firm up a bit and absorb all of the water.

In a clean bowl at least twice the size of the dough, lightly coat the dough and the sides of the bowl with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 90 minutes.

For the spinach filling:
8 cups of fresh spinach, chopped or 2 lbs. frozen chopped spinach (thawed, drained, and squeezed dry)
1 ½ cups yellow onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon sumac

If using fresh spinach, sprinkle with the salt in a medium bowl. Set aside to macerate for 10 minutes, then squeeze the spinach of as much juice as possible. Discard juice. If using frozen spinach, squeeze as much juice as possible, and discard juice.

Combine the spinach and onion. Just before filling the pastry, add sumac and lemon juice. If using frozen spinach, add salt (fresh has already been salted to remove the juice). Taste and adjust seasoning.

To fill and bake the fatayar:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Brush two heavy baking sheets with canola oil.

Roll half of the dough out on a dry work surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Gently lift the dough from the edges to allow for contraction. Cut dough into 4-inch rounds. Cover with plastic wrap. Knead together the scraps, cover with plastic, and set aside.

Fill the rounds of dough by placing a heaping tablespoon of filling in the center of each round. Be careful not to let the filling touch the edges of the dough where it will be gathered together and closed. A good way to keep the filling in the center is to lower the spoon with the filling over the center of the dough (parallel to it) and use your fingers to slide the filling off the spoon and into the center of the dough circle.

Bring three sides of the dough together in the center over the filling and pinch into a triangle. Close the dough firmly.

Place the fatayar on the baking sheets and generously brush or spray the dough with olive oil. Bake in the middle of the oven for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Set the oven on convection bake for the last 5 minutes of baking to encourage browning.

Repeat the process with the other half of the dough, then with the scraps that have been kneaded together and left to rest for a few minutes before rolling out.

Fatayar freezes well in a ziplock freezer bag and can be reheated from frozen, or simply thaw to room temperature and eat.

Serve fatayar warm or room temperature as an appetizer, or for a meal with a salad.

By Ariel Gold

Being Progressive except #Palestine is like being #vegan except bacon



Vegan mofo tomato

Golden/Blue potatoes (Vegan Mofo 2015)


It is September 10th, and the VeganMofo prompt is: something blue.  I chose to cook for this prompt, because it sounded like a good reason to buy blue potatoes and purple sticky rice.  The recipe I used is adapted from Secrets of Palestine by Duha Bereh, and Anne-Claire Yaeesh.  Muhamar batata translates to golden potatoes, although in this case I used blue ones.  The dish is typically meat based, with white rice and potatoes.  I used Tofurky slow roasted Chick’n for my meal.  Full disclosure, I’m not usually a fan of things that taste too much like chicken, but I think Tofurky did a good job creating this product.


So here goes the recipe:


  • 1 package Tofurky Chick’n or the vegan friendly product you like
  • 1 cups rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 lbs potato
  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 turmeric (turned my blue potatoes greenish yellow, but still delicious)
  • pepper
  • salt
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 tbls. olive oil

For the potatoes:
Peel and dice the potatoes, and slice the onion.  Fry the onion in a 2 tablespoons of oil, along with spices, until they begin to soften.  Add the potatoes and fry for a few more minutes.  Once everything begins to brown, add the vegetable broth and cover.  Cook until potatoes are soft, check frequently to make sure there is enough liquid.  Season with salt and pepper.

For the vegan chick’n:
Bake at 300 degrees F., for 15 minutes. Or until they turn golden.

For the rice:
Soak the rice for 15 mins in hot water, and drain. Toast the rice 2 tablespoons of olive oil, in a saucepan, for about 3 minutes. Add 2 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, lower the heat and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes.

To serve pour rice into a serving dish and place roasted vegan chick’n on top. Serve the cooked potatoes separately. If desired add fried sliced almonds or peanuts to the meal.


Happy vegan Mofo cooking!


Settler colonial cultural appropriation of the falafel as part of the ongoing theft of Palestine (vegan mofo)


The prompt for today is most retro food.

Israel’s expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes, villages, and lands in 1948 did not stop with the Jewish militias and the removal of arab names from maps. It also included the the cultural appropriation of books, dress, and food, including the falafel, which Israeli propaganda has  named “Israel’s national snack”. Far from a benign appreciation and enjoyment of food, Israel’s colonization of Palestinian food and culture – falafel and hummus, knaffe, hookah, arabic salad – acts as a propaganda tool to whitewash the systematic denial of Palestinian human rights and erase Palestinian identity and historical narrative. As journalist Ben White (2015) points out, the zionist appropriation of Palestinian food  and culture serves to deny the existence of Palestine while simultaneously appropriating its land and heritage. “It is both an act of theft itself, and a way of justifying that theft.”

Recipe: Palestinian falafel with saffron tahini sauce 


2 cups dried chick peas, soaked overnight

1 cup chopped, parsley

1 medium onion

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. salt

oil for frying

Tahini Sauce

1 cup tahini

2 lemons

1 clove garlic

pinch saffron powder or few saffron threads

1 tsp salt

1/3 water

Blend the ingredients for the tahini sauce and pour into a dipping bowl.

Chop the onions, and garlic in a food processor. Add the parsley and pulse until finely chopped. Drain and dry the chick peas. Add them to the food processor (depending on the size of your food processor you might need to do this in batches) and process until the mixture is almost smooth, but not mushy. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours. Form into balls and deep fry at 350 degrees for 4- minute each, depending on the size of the balls.

Falafel not

By Ariel Gold

#veganmofo #vgmf15

White, Ben. (2015). Israel’s obsession with hummus is about more than stealing Palestine’s food. The National. http://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/israels-obsession-with-hummus-is-about-more-than-stealing-palestines-food#page1

Mahashi Kousa (Vegan Mofo 2015)


The prompt for today, September 7th, is make a meal inspired by a book or film.  Last fall I went to a book discussion group and read Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa.  The book is about the life of four generations of a Palestinian family from 1948 until 2003.  It offers a good basic overview of historical events that took place starting from the formation of Israel.

I could not find the exact place this meal of Mahashi Kousa is mentioned.  However, I did find it in the glossary on page 329, where it is described as zucchini, usually stuffed.

This recipe is adapted from The Cuisine of my Sister In-Law: Secrets of Palestine, by Duha Bezreh, Anne-Claire Yaeesh. I purchased it during our stop at the Human Supporters Association in Nablus.

To make this dish you will need a zucchini corer or try using a drill


  • 4 ounces of shredded seitan (I used Upton’s Naturals ground seitan.)uptonsseitan
  • 1 cup of rice
  • ½ cup sunflower oil
  • ½ tsp. ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp. ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp. ground pepper
  • ½ tsp. curry powder
  • ½ tsp. allspice
  • 1 tsp. salt

Soak rice in hot water for 15 minutes and drain. Mix in the remaining ingredients, and set aside.


  • 2 Tbls. tomato paste
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 liter water
  • salt
  • 2 lbs zucchini

Wash, and remove the heads from the zucchini. Cut off a small amount of the bottom if necessary, so they will fit into the pot. Next carefully core out the insides of the zucchini, and wash. Fill each zucchini three quarters with stuffing. Add sauce ingredients into a large pot, and place the filled zucchinis inside and cover. Cook on medium heat for 40 minutes.


Check regularly, and add water if necessary. Be careful not to stir the zucchinis while cooking.  I cooked any remaining stuffing in a separate pot.  Arrange the zucchinis on a serving dish and serve with the sauce.


platedzuch1It went well with a salad filled with ingredients from my CSA pick-up.  For the dressing I made a vinaigrette with fig infused balsamic vinegar, mustard, and maple syrup.

– Stephanie