Passover Matzoh Fun!
Every moderately religious Jewish child remembers that week in April during which bread and other leavened products are not to be eaten. To some, this would throw their entire week inside out—no more spaghetti with meat sauce, grandma’s chocolate chip cookies, or, by far the most detrimental, pizza. But the worst part is having to substitute these delicious staples of one’s diet with a dry, flavorless unsalted cracker called matzoh, or matzos. I won’t explain the tradition behind eating this flat baked form of bread, but the point is it is not risen dough because when the Jews escaped Egypt they had no time to wait for their bread to rise while it baked. So they ate this rather tasteless substitute. It serves as a reminder of the struggles the Jewish people went through when they were escaping the pharaohs that enslaved them.
Now, every cook in the kitchen has to say, what could I prepare that is not only edible during Passover, and utilizes matzoh, but is also delicious? When I was a kid, my grandma used to make these three foods that I think are by no means a step down from what they would be with bread and yeast products. To be honest, I don’t even think matzoh is that bad… just a little butter and salt makes everything better. But I think I am in the minority here. So for all the homegrown cooks who want to have some fun with traditional but Passover-friendly recipes, here are my takes on what the best three dishes are for a Passover breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Ingredients: 6 matzos, 4 eggds, ½ cup water, ½ tsp salt, cooking oil, jelly preserves
Recipe (this is fairly simply recipe, and you could decide to twist your pancakes up by making them more savory): Crush your matzos into fine pieces, but not crumbs, because the texture is fairly important. Add the eggs and the salt, and mix together into something resembling a pancake batter. Add about a tablespoon-full onto an oiled skillet, and cook on both sides until they are golden brown. Some interesting twists for this include adding solid chilled chocolate chips to the batter, or fresh berries. Once the pancakes are done, add butter and strawberry or blueberry preserves to make them nice and sweet, much like pancakes and syrup. Breakfast during Passover cannot be more delectable.
Matzoh Breaded Chicken Breasts
Who does not love chicken breast? Given the usual bread crumbs cannot be eaten on Passover, this lunch staple can be turned to a delicious family-friendly middle course just by breading your chicken in finely ground matzoh squares.
Ingredients: 1 large egg, 6 Matzos, 2 tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, cooking oil, 4 boneless chicken breasts (medium size), lemons (as garnish)
Recipe: Crack and scramble the egg in one small bowl. Crush the matzos into small pieces, as fine as possible without disintegrating it, and then add salt and pepper. Heat your pan and add the oil. Then, first by drenching the cutlet on both sides with egg wash, press it quickly on both sides into the matzos mixture. You can do this more than once to add extra layering or crunch onto the chicken. Fry until the coating is a golden brown crispy exterior. Serve with the lemon wedge on top, or sprinkle some of the lemon juice on top of the pieces.
Baba Ganoush with Matzoh Crackers
One of the most traditional Israeli salads and dips is baba ganoush, an eggplant-based salad that is commonly made in the spring and summer time as a cold refreshing salad for any hors-oeuvre party or gathering. This recipe from Delish.com is mouthwatering!
Ingredients: 2 roasted eggplants, 1/3 cup tahini (a sesame seed paste), 3 roasted garlic cloves, lemon juice from 2 lemons, ½ tsp cumin, ½ tsp salt, cayenne pepper (to taste), freshly minced parsley, paprika (for garnish), extra virgin olive oil
Recipe: Remove pulp from the cooled eggplant, adding in the roasting liquid. Add the tahini, lemon juice, cumin, salt, and pepper, as well as a bit of olive oil. Mix everything together with a fork to remove any inconsistencies. Add the parsley, more olive oil, and paprika to taste. Serve with bits of matzoh crackers that one would simply dip into the salad.
These are three of my favorite recipes for Passover. They are not particularly hard, nor do they use matzoh as the main ingredient. But, then again, since when is bread the star ingredient in any non-dessert dish? Please enjoy! And for the Jews out there celebrating this holiday, Chag Pesach Sameach!
Cover photo source.