Although chopped liver was never made in my house growing up, family lore has it that my grandma used to make the best chopped liver ever. No one knew her secret until one day my grandpa was home when she was making it. He sat with her as she cooked and when the time came to add brandy to the mixture, my grandma went to the liquor cabinet and took out the bottle of my grandpa’s finest Napoleon brandy. She then proceeded to pour a very generous amount into the liver. Once he recovered from the shock, my grandpa put an end to that immediately. From then on, her chopped liver while still earning accolades was just never the same.

Even before I was vegan, the idea of eating liver was repulsive to me. The liver is used to filter toxins out of the body. Why on earth would I want to eat something filled with toxins? As a vegan, the thought of eating any animal product is incredibly upsetting. So for me, chopped liver never held any appeal. However, one night at a gathering at Fran Costigan‘s apartment to help with the arduous task of tasting chocolate, I tried a vegan chopped liver made by her friend Liz Hoffman. It was delicious. It tasted exactly like I remember my grandma’s apartment smelling. (If you have or had a Jewish grandma, you know what I mean). I asked Liz for the recipe and she was generous enough to share it with me. Rather than liver, the recipe uses a combination of lentils and walnuts. This nutrient dense dish is packed with protein and fiber. Serve this to your family and they will plotz when you tell them it’s vegan. They will swear you’re telling a bubbe meise. And you can just kvell as every devours it. Break out the matzo and you will be all set for Passover.

Note: I followed the recipe as written, but when you talk to Liz, she will tell you that she just puts everything into the food processor at once and pulses it a few times until everything is almost smooth.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes

2 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup dried lentils
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
1 large carrot, coarsely shredded
1 cup chopped onions
3/4 cup cooked brown rice
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon red miso
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce (use tamari for a gluten-fee version)
Freshly ground black pepper


1. Combine the water, lentils, and salt in an open 2-quart (2 liter) saucepan. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down to medium, and cook uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender but still firm.

2. Grind the walnuts in the food processor until almost smooth.

3. Add the shredded carrot, onions, brown rice, miso, soy sauce, and pepper to the walnuts in the processor. Drain and discard any excess liquid from the cooked lentils and add them to processor. Process for 1 to 2 minutes, until smooth.

4. Transfer the mixture to an attractive lettuce-lined serving bowl or platter and garnish or serve chilled. Stored in a covered container in the refrigerator.