Help Me IFA, You Are My Only Hope.



By Ezra Klein

This post may not make a lot of sense to non-Jewish readers. For that, I apologize. But that’s what makes this day different from all other days. It’s Passover, and I’ve been asked to bring a vegetarian tzimmes to the Seder I’m attending. Tzimmes weren’t a part of my family table, and some quick searches have unsettled my stomach: Most look like an overly sweet mixture of stewed carrots, prunes, and figs. I can already feel myself reaching for my trusty canister of red pepper flakes. So I’m hoping some of you dear readers can help: You have a vegetarian tzimmes recipe you love? Or have you run across a particularly appealing one? Or am I wrong about what happens when you let carrots and prunes and figs hang out in honey for two hours?


8 responses to “Help Me IFA, You Are My Only Hope.

  1. Grandma’s Tzimmes:
    5 lbs carrots peeled, sliced on processor,
    6 yams peeled cut into cubes
    2/3 c sugar
    3 cut up onions
    2.5 c orange juice

    Cook in pot a few hours till potatoes are soft.

    Add prunes when mostly cooked, or when done if you are putting in fridge for another time.

    Then, if you want, place on matza balls and warm up for ½ hour or so.

    Yes, it’s a sweet dish — a great side to some tasty brisket.

  2. Can I take this opportunity to urge you to buy some cookbooks? Internet recipes are not worth the paper they’re printed on…I should know; I write them! They are not tested the way cookbook recipes are, so your mileage inevitably varies. Some may be great, but many are just someone’s idea of a great meal.

    Not only that, but the photos that usually accompany them are crap. Do NOT use a flash when you photograph food, people!

    If you can’t afford new books, go to the library. And check out used book stores; I bought World Food Cafe for £2.99 yesterday at Oxfam.

    That said, there is a recipe for tsimmes on page 197 of Mollie Katzen’s Still Life With Menu, one of the first vegetarian cookbooks I ever bought and the one that convinced me to become a full-time vegetarian.

  3. Tzimmes is pretty sweet, and it’s supposed to be, but it’s not as gross as recipes might make it seem. Look for a recipe that’s less syrup-y and definitely has a lot of citrus for acid purposes. I think a tzimmes is better when it’s lemon-y or orange-y.

    Think of the dish as a cousin of yams at Thanksgiving, minus the marshmallow and the mashing and plus the 40 years it took to find some honey.

  4. Can’t stomach prunes? Substitute roughly chopped dried apricots.

    • 2 cups canned sweet potatoes
    • 1 red or green pepper, sliced
    • 1 red onion, cut into 1 inch cubes
    • 2 carrots, sliced
    • 2 stalk celery, sliced
    • 1 8 oz. can mandarin oranges w/juice
    • 1 cup dried apricots, chopped
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 1.5 cup apple juice
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 1 tbsp soy sauce
    • 2 tbsp lemon juice
    • 1 tbsp dried basil
    Put all ingredients into a pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Cover tightly. Cook 40 minutes. 6 servings.

  5. NPR had a nice looking Tzimmes recipe, with a bit more spice and a bit less sweet,

    Looking at it, You’ll need to chop those beets really small though if you want them to cook in 20 minutes.

    Makes 6 to 8 servings

    1 pound beets

    1 pound parsnips

    1 pound carrots

    1 pound turnips

    1 to 2 tablespoons kosher salt

    1 teaspoon black pepper

    1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

    1 cup golden raisins

    1/2 cup olive oil

    2 tablespoons honey

    Freshly chopped parsley, for garnish

    Moroccan spice mix

    Moroccan Spice Mix

    1 tablespoon cumin

    1 tablespoon coriander

    1 tablespoon granulated garlic

    1 teaspoon fennel seeds

    1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

    1 teaspoon allspice

    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

    1/2 teaspoon turmeric

    1 tablespoon ground ginger

    1 tablespoon kosher salt

    1/2 teaspoon black pepper

    1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

    Peel and cut all vegetables into equal-size chunks and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, dried parsley and Moroccan spices. Place on cookie sheet lined with foil. Do not let vegetables pile on each other. If necessary, use a second cookie sheet.

    Roast for about 20 minutes or until fork-tender.

    Meanwhile, soak golden raisins in 1 cup boiling water until soft. Drain. Add the raisins to the vegetables. Pour honey over all.

    Reheat in oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Just before serving, garnish with freshly chopped parsley.

  6. fajita sweet potatoes sounds like an “ezra-style” tzimmes.

  7. Ezra,
    I see you already found a recipe but I cannot help myself… here’s my family’s recipe, it was always my favorite dish at holiday meals:

  8. Tzimmehs! Bad Tzimmehs!

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