Vegetarian Recipes for the Nine Days

Here are some vegetarian recipes to honor this time of year, starting with Kornberg’s Shiitake Mushroom lettuce wraps.
July 20, 2023
Shitake Endive Bites Photo courtesy Deborah Kornberg

The Nine Days of Av (July 18-27) are a communal time of mourning. 

“In Judaism we often use food to reflect our emotional state, sometimes feasting and celebrating and others reflecting our sorrow,” Deborah Kornberg, chef-owner of SPICE + LEAF and cooking teacher, told the Journal. “During the Nine Days of Av, it is traditional to not eat meat to reflect our collective loss and the suffering of the Jewish people.”

“During the Nine Days of Av, it is traditional to not eat meat to reflect our collective loss and the suffering of the Jewish people.”
– Deborah Kornberg

Here are some vegetarian recipes to honor this time of year, starting with Kornberg’s Shiitake Mushroom lettuce wraps. They make a great appetizer of a delicious light lunch. “They are packed with flavor, and of course, spice,” she said.

Shiitake Endive Bites with a Teriyaki Dipping Sauce
By Debbie Kornberg

Teriyaki Dipping Sauce:

½ cup coconut aminos or soy sauce

¼ cup rice vinegar

3 Tbsp SPICE + LEAF Gallberry Honey

2 Tbsp sesame oil 

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced

1 tsp SPICE + LEAF Aleppo Pepper

1 Tbsp.cornstarch or arrowroot

¼ cup water

Shiitake Bites:

½ cup raw cashews, toasted and chopped

3 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp. SPICE + LEAF Galili Olive Oil

4 cups (10 oz) shiitake mushrooms, sliced

2 cups (8 oz) white button mushrooms or cremini, sliced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 green onions, diced

2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced (can add more if you love ginger)

¾ cup celery, diced

2 tbsp cilantro, coarsely chopped (can substitute with parsley if you prefer)

Pinch of salt

½ cup carrots, shredded

1 Tbsp + 1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted

3 small endives, cleaned and dried. Little Gems, Butter or Romaine lettuce as little cups to hold the mixture

Teriyaki Dipping Sauce: 

Using a small pot, combine coconut aminos or soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, sesame oil, garlic and ginger. Over a low heat, bring to a low simmer and continue simmering for about 3–5 minutes. While sauce is simmering, in a small bowl, combine arrowroot and water. Using a whisk, mix well until the corn starch (or arrowroot) is fully incorporated into the water. Gently add arrowroot-water combo into the pot of sauce and continue mixing with whisk. The sauce will slowly thicken. The longer it stays on the stove, the thicker it will get, about 3–5 minutes. Turn off the stove and set aside.

Shiitake Endive Bites:

Using a sauté pan, place ½ cup of raw cashews into a dry pan (no oil). Toast for about 5 minutes on medium to medium-low heat. Continually stir nuts, so they are toasted evenly on all sides. When cashews start to get a toasty brown color, remove from the pan and place into a bowl. Set aside until the end.

Using the same sauté pan, heat up 3 Tbsp of olive oil and add mushrooms. Sauté on medium heat for about 7 minutes. Mushrooms should cook down and get a little sear on them. After cooking, place mushrooms in a bowl and set aside. 

Using the same sauté pan, put on medium-low heat, and add 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Then add garlic, green onions, ginger, cilantro, celery and salt. Sauté for about 5 minutes. Then add carrots and sauteed mushrooms, and cook for another minute or two mixing everything together. 

Place mushroom mixture in a bowl and add ¼ cup toasted chopped cashews and 1 Tbsp sesame seeds. Mix well. 

Preparing the Endives:

Cut off the stem of the endive bulb so each leaf can be pulled off one by one. Discard any wilted leaves. Wash and pat dry. 

Putting it all Together:

Using a spoon, scoop some of the Shiitake mixture into an endive cup, drizzle a little Teriyaki sauce on top. Then sprinkle some extra cashews and sesame seeds on top. Place on a serving platter. 

Judy Elbaum’s Bucatini with Tomato Pesto is a great, pareve vegetarian meal to serve during the Nine Days.  

“In this scrumptious Sicilian pasta dish, a thick spaghetti-type pasta is tossed with a fresh, aromatic tomato pesto and then sprinkled with toasted bread crumbs,” Elbaum, founder of Leave it to Bubbe, told the Journal.  “The tomato pesto comes together quickly in a blender, yielding a dairy free tomato sauce that cooks briefly when it comes into contact with the freshly boiled pasta.”

Bucatini with Tomato Pesto
Photo by John Paul Endress


Bucatini with Tomato Pesto 

2 lbs Roma or San Marzano tomatoes

¾ cup blanched almonds

1 bunch of fresh basil


freshly ground pepper

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 pound bucatini

1 cup toasted bread crumbs

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place tomatoes, almonds, basil, salt and pepper in a blender. Slowly add all the olive oil—usually 3/4 cup to 1 cup, and blend all the ingredients emulsify and blend together into a smooth and creamy (from the almonds) tomato pesto. Pour half the sauce into a serving bowl. Place the  pasta into the boiling water and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until it is al dente. Drain the pasta, then place in a large bowl. Add the remaining sauce to the pasta and toss well.  Serve with toasted bread crumbs, decorate with basil, and pass around the extra sauce.

To toast bread crumbs: You will need about 1 cup of breadcrumbs for 4 servings.  Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet, then sauté the bread crumbs in the oil for a few minutes until golden brown, being careful not to burn the crumbs.   

Danny Corsun said his roasted cauliflower transports him to Tel Aviv. The flavors that explode from it are unmatched, and it can be used as a side dish or entree,” Corsun, founder of the Culinary Judaics Academy (CJA), told the Journal. “I hope you will close your eyes, and join me in the Shuk Carmel as we eat it together!”

CJA’S Za’atar & Cilantro Encrusted Roasted Cauliflower

1 large head of cauliflower

¼ cup olive oil, plus some to drizzle

1 cup fresh cilantro

3 Tbsp Za’atar

3 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

2 tsp cajun or blackening spice

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1 16 oz container of Labneh


Preheat oven or grill to 425°F

Wash cauliflower and cut stem/leaves off leaving the head in one intact piece. Set aside.

In a food processor combine olive oil, cilantro, 2 Tbsp of Za’atar, 2 tsp garlic powder, salt, pepper, 1 tsp of cajun seasoning, coriander, and cumin. Process until smooth.

Place cauliflower in a large bowl and using either a pastry brush or your hands, bathe the cauliflower in the olive oil/cilantro/spice mixture. Coating every inch. Turn the cauliflower upside down to make sure you also coat the underside and get the mixture into the crevices toward its center. We want this flavor to permeate every piece!   

 If roasting in the oven, place cauliflower on a parchment paper lined sheet pan and place in the center rack of the oven. Roast for 25 minutes or until crusty, golden brown and just tender. Test doneness by piercing the head of the cauliflower with a knife. You are looking for it to be able to pass through the cauliflower, but not for it to be mushy; there should still be some bite to it. If cooking on the grill, grill all sides to get a nice, caramelized crust and then wrap with aluminum foil and finish cooking (turning once or twice to get all sides), until the proper doneness is achieved (see above).

Add the Labneh to a separate bowl and mix in the 1 tbsp of Za’atar, 1 tsp of cajun seasoning, 1 tsp of garlic powder and salt/pepper to taste. Transfer to a platter and drizzle with olive oil and then place whole cauliflower on top of it and serve. Enjoy!

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