Chef Cara Tannenbaum’s first childhood memory of eating real chopped liver (on fresh rye bread, of course) goes back to the day her family moved to their new home on Long Island. As the years passed, healthy eating became a way of life in the Tannenbaum household and they replaced the traditional schmaltz-filled chopped liver with a vegetarian version loaded with caramelized onions, mushrooms, peas and walnuts — to add plenty of savory yumminess. As sometimes happens, the progeny eclipsed the original and vegetarian “chopped liver” has become a Passover staple in Chef Cara’s home. Try her recipe for yourself and you’ll see why.
Vegetarian Chopped Liver
Servings: makes 2 cups
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup (3 ½ ounces) walnut pieces
2 large eggs, hard-boiled
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Matzoh crackers or sliced rye bread (for serving)
- Heat the oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Add the onion, season with one teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. It will take that long to caramelize the onion and cook it to a deep color that reveals its characteristic flavor. Keep the heat low, move the slices occasionally in the pan and have patience.
- Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms soften and release their liquid, about five minutes. Add the peas, cover the skillet and cook the mixture for an additional five minutes, or until the peas are cooked through. Overcooking the peas won’t hurt here; a dull green color will help duplicate the look of liver. Remove from the heat and cool.
- Roughly chop the walnuts in the work bowl of a food processor. Add the cooled vegetables and process until a thick paste forms, about 45 seconds. Remove the mixture from the bowl and set it aside. Without cleaning the bowl, process the eggs until they are roughly chopped, about 10 seconds. Fold them into the vegetable mixture.
- Season with the remaining teaspoon of salt and the pepper and chill for at least three hours or up to three days in a well-sealed container. Bring to room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Serve with matzoh crackers or freshly sliced rye bread.
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