Tag Archives: Passover

Colorful Quinoa Salad

quinoa salad

Colorful Quinoa Salad

Now, I love overcooked Jewish food as much as any good Jew. I look forward to Passover seders full of Eastern European food that my family has made for generations: brisket, turkey, gefilte fish, kugel, tzimmes. But I have to admit that after a few days of all that heavy stuff, I’m ready for some lighter fare for the rest of Passover, an eight-day holiday.

Quinoa has been a more recent addition to our Passover repertoire. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is an ancient South American grain that’s high in protein and nutrition. Grown in the Andes mountains in South America, quinoa bears no relation to chametz grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats and spelt), making quinoa kosher for Passover and gluten-free.

Ancient Harvest says that its quinoa is grown in the high Andean Altiplano regions of Bolivia at 12,000+ foot elevations where the arid conditions will not support traditional gluten-bearing grain production. So there’s no possibility of cross-contamination in the fields.

The ancient Incas revered quinoa as sacred. It’s not only high in protein, calcium and iron, but it’s a complete protein, since it contains all eight essential amino acids.

I make the following gluten-free Colorful Quinoa Salad during the year, but it can also be a refreshing addition to a Passover table. Chock full of healthy quinoa and antioxidant-rich veggies, fruit and nuts, it’s particularly good to pull out for a brunch buffet, since you can make it in advance and serve it at room temperature. The recipe is adapted from “Let’s Dish,” a cookbook from my kids’ school.

Click for Colorful Quinoa Salad recipe

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Gluten-Free Matzo Ball Soup

gluten-free matzo ball soup

Gluten-Free Matzo Ball Soup

If you could put comfort in a bowl, you’d end up with matzo ball soup. Chicken soup is legendary. This “Jewish penicillin” can conquer the common cold and, if you believe your Bubbe, can cure any hurt or illness. Add fluffy matzo balls and it’s the stuff family legends are made of.

When our family first went gluten-free, we mourned the lack of matzo ball soup. Chicken soup with rice just wouldn’t suffice. I tried to make gluten-free matzo balls from scratch, but instead of matzo balls we ended up with matzo lumps.

But when Passover rolled around, I found salvation. Salvation in a box.

Matzo balls contain, of course, matzo, which is made from wheat. However, some kosher for Passover brands of matzo ball mix are made from potato starch instead of matzo meal. That’s because some observant Jews don’t mix matzo with water during Passover, to prevent any possibility of it rising. Passover food that does not contain matzo is labeled non-gebrokts. (Gebrokts literally means “broken,” referring to matzo that is broken up and mixed with water.)

As Passover approaches, you can find several brands of gluten-free matzo meal. I buy four or five boxes to last well into the year. My favorite gluten-free matzo ball mixes are Paskesz Pesach Crumbs and Lieber’s Knaidel mix. (Paskesz’ gluten-free “Matzo Ball Mix” sounds like it would be great, but it produces knaidlach that are gummy instead of yummy.) Update: I’ve decided that Lieber’s Knaidel Mix makes the best gluten-free matzo balls. The recipe below follows the instructions for the Paskesz mix, so if using Lieber’s follow the directions on the box.

You’ll end up with perfectly round cream-colored balls that are fluffy on the outside, yet ever-so-slightly dense at the core (which, in my opinion, is a good thing). We’ve served them to gluten-eating friends who’ve asked for seconds and thirds.

To make the matzo balls, I use the recipe on the side of the box with just a few small changes. The recipe below uses Pesach Crumbs, because I can usually find those year-round in our kosher grocery store.

Some matzo ball tips: After you’ve made the matzo ball mixture, be sure to refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Then enlist your kids to help roll the mixture into walnut-sized balls. However, be gentle: The more you roll the balls, the denser they will be. Set aside all the balls onto a plate. When they all are rolled and ready, drop the balls into a pot of boiling water, so they all cook for the same amount of time. Use a large pot, so the matzo balls have room to fluff up and not crowd their neighbors.

Click for Gluten-Free Matzo Ball Soup recipe

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Filed under Jewish holidays, Recipes, soups/chili

Gluten-Free Passover Foods

gluten-free passover foods

Gluten-free Passover foods

Update: For 2012 gluten-free Passover foods, see my recent blog post. The 2010 post is below.

On Passover, we recall how the Israelites were slaves in ancient Egypt. To remember the unleavened bread they ate when they left Egypt, we don’t eat certain grains during the eight days of Passover. That means wheat, rye, barley and oats are prohibited (other than the grain used to make matzah).

As a result, many kosher for Passover foods are also gluten-free. Check to make sure the labels say “kosher for Passover” and that the ingredients do not contain any form of matzah (which can be labeled as matzah, matzah meal, cake meal or farfel — all of which contain wheat). Many Passover foods are now marked “gluten free.” Some are marked with the Yiddish word “non-gebrokts,” which means that the food does not contain matzah and is therefore gluten-free.

While Passover is a good time to stock up on some sweets and traditional Jewish foods, don’t go overboard. Because many grains are prohibited on Passover, prepared foods are often lacking in nutrition and taste. Skip the Passover cake mixes, cereals and pasta, as they are usually disappointing. In my family, the worst insult is to say that something “tastes like Passover,” meaning it is as dry as the Sinai desert.

I find it’s useful to have a gluten-free Passover shopping list, so I thought I would share mine. Please note that I am not compensated for these recommendations in any way. Also, this is not an exhaustive survey of all gluten-free Passover products. And even though I recommend specific products, always read labels to make sure foods are gluten-free.

Click for my gluten-free Passover shopping list.

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Filed under Jewish holidays

Chocolate Chip and Double Chocolate Meringues

gluten-free meringues

Chocoloate Chip and Double Chocolate Meringues

There’s something wintry about meringue cookies. They look like pure white mini snowballs that seem so right for the season. It’s actually better to make meringues in winter. The air is dry, which helps keep meringues crisp.

With winter hopefully ending soon (bright sun is streaming through my window and the temps in Chicago have been above freezing), it’s time to sneak in a batch of meringues before it’s too late.

Meringues are a great dessert to make for guests, as they are naturally gluten-free. My kids’ friends wolf down these sugary treats, taking extras home with them. Meringues also make great Passover treats, since all the ingredients are kosher for Passover.

Though I do like the look of snowy white meringues, I recently needed a chocolate fix (no surprise there). So in addition to adding chocolate chips to the meringues, I also added cocoa powder to half the batch to make double chocolate meringue cookies.

To shape the meringues, I drop spoonfuls of the mixture on a cookie sheet, because that’s the easiest thing to do. If you want to be fancy (my kids’ favorite word), omit the chocolate chips and pipe the meringues into prettier shapes using a pastry bag.

You’ll want to dry out the meringues, so keep the heat low and slow. I bake them at 250 for one hour; some recipes say to leave meringues in a turned-off oven overnight. If the temperature gets much higher than 250, your meringues will turn tan, which might be a good look for you but not for your meringues.

Click for Chocolate Chip and Double Chocolate Meringues recipe

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