Author Archives: Izzy Darby

Izzy Darby

About Izzy Darby

Izzy is a vegan food blogger at Veganizzm where she strives to make plant-based eating approachable and fun. Izzy's day job is marketing at America's Test Kitchen and her night job is sleeping. Follow for more recipes and jokes on Instagram and Twitter at @veganizzm.

Vegetarian Passover Recipe: Sweet Potato and Swiss Chard Gratin

March is such a tempting mistress. The sun is in the sky later and the flowers are beginning to pop up, but it’s still just a bit too early for an appreciable amount of spring produce to show up at farmers’ markets. I spend March wistfully looking out my window at my vegetable garden, waiting for something, anything to happen. One more month of root vegetables and then I’m moving to California (for real this time).

While we’re in the dwindling months of winter (and root veggie season), you can find me bundled in a blanket eating all the sweet potatoes. This gratin really makes sweet potatoes shine. Creamy coconut milk and cashew butter make this a perfect vegan main dish or vegetable side. Of course, this gratin can be enjoyed any season, even summer when chard, kale, spinach, and collard greens are in season and can be subbed in for the chard. Vegan cheese may be omitted to make this kosher for Passover.

Vegetarian Reuben Sandwich Recipe with Seitan and Russian Dressing

I grew up going to Rein’s Deli outside of Hartford, Connecticut — almost exactly halfway between my home in Massachusetts and my grandmother’s house in New York. Stopping at Rein’s on a road trip was sometimes a treat but often a necessity for my parents (my sister, Jenny, and I were usually fighting loudly in the back seat). I remember liking the barrel of pickles, the endless menu, and the enormous, messy sandwiches at Rein’s. My dad always got the tongue sandwich with Swiss and I always got a kosher frank (no kraut). As I got older and my tastes evolved, I occasionally branched out to egg salad or a Reuben (or a Rachael, if I was feeling especially risqué).

I haven’t been to Rein’s in years, but I wanted to recreate the Reuben I remember – piled high with Russian dressing and sauerkraut – without the meat. I decided to use seitan, a meat substitute made from wheat gluten, in place of the corned beef. It is very similar in texture to meat and (although some people think it is pronounced the same as Satan — it’s actually pronounced say-TAN) has nothing to do with worshiping the devil. My seitan version of the Reuben doesn’t have anywhere near the volume of corned beef Rein’s version does (those things are like a foot high), but it’s pretty tasty.

Note: Unlike traditional Ruebens, this sandwich is kosher. It’s easy to make this sandwich vegan, as well (use your favorite vegan slices in place of the Swiss, margarine instead of butter, and vegan mayo in the Russian dressing).


Vegan Challah Recipe

One of the first Jewish foods I remember eating is challah. I associate challah with mingling at bar and bat mitzvahs, a glass of grape juice in hand and a chunk of bread in the other, calculating how many times I could reasonably duck into the temple bathroom without looking suspicious.

I wanted to hide from the awkwardness of being 13 and the fact that temple never felt comfortable to me. My mom is Jewish and my dad is not, so my relationship with Judaism has always been rooted more in my stomach and attempts to find a religious identity than anything concerning actual religious observance. The challah was delicious.

When I was a little bit past bar mitzvah age I attended a Passover seder with relatives on my mom’s side. It was a large group of friends and family and we passed a dozen dishes around several pushed-together tables (one was not large enough to fit all of us). I was transfixed by the elaborate food traditions: the brisket, the matzo ball soup, the seder plate. We read stories, sang songs, and ate and ate and ate. I learned that one of the wonderful things about Judaism and its many traditions rooted in food is its ability to bring people together.

I stopped eating meat, dairy, and eggs about seven years ago and can attest that eating a vegan diet creates a different but similar discomfort I remember feeling as a preteen. If you decide to follow this diet, you will be everyone’s least favorite friend when it comes to picking a place to eat dinner, and you basically need to get used to packing your own Thanksgiving meal every year. One of the reasons I write a vegan blog is to share recipes and stories to bridge that gap between people who choose to eat less meat (or dairy or eggs) and those who choose to eat all of the meat and dairy and eggs.

When I started following a vegan diet I was pleased to learn that most bread is naturally vegan — challah, of course, is one of the exceptions. After going years without challah I decided to try my hand at a loaf like the ones I remember so well. I found the fluffiness was difficult to replicate. The first time I tried it, I didn’t give the yeast enough time to rise and it ended up dense and doorstop-like. After a few more tries it turned out pretty great.

Vegan Challah_6

Vegan Beet Latkes Recipe for Hanukkah

I have tested root vegetable variations on the classic potato latke before, and sweet potatoes, in my experience, can be subbed in 1-for-1 to replace white potatoes in most latke recipes. When fried, the starch in sweet potatoes breaks down to sugar, leading to a delicious lightly caramelized flavor, perfect with a dash of cinnamon and eaten as fast as you can get your hands on them.

When is Hanukkah 2016? Click here to find out!

I wanted to see if beet latkes would turn out as well: I hoped to coax out a sweet, earthy flavor but keep the crispy texture and soft interior I love. It worked! I like my latkes a bit denser and more hockey puck-like (all the better for piling on tons of applesauce and sour cream), but you can use this recipe and tweak the size to be as thin and crispy as you like.