Passover is a week-long holiday filled with prohibitions, from legumes and grains to the main forbidden foods, wheat and leavening. But what about those of us who already do without flour in our daily diets, the plethora of men and women who live a gluten-free life?
What can we eat and what can’t we?
Obviously, matzoh and matzoh balls are out of the question health-wise because they’re made entirely of wheat (unleavened wheat, but wheat, nonetheless.) Yehuda brand makes a gluten-free matzoh from tapioca starch and Kassebaum’s makes a heavier one from oat flour. The Internet sports a number of gluten-free matzoh ball recipes. I’m including one that turns out light and scrumptious dumplings using quinoa flakes. Quinoa, by the way, is one of the few grains permitted at Passover and makes a delicious pasta available at local health food stores.
But to keep the holiday strictures, even gluten-free folks may have to bypass some favorite foods. Gluten-free baked goods most likely include leavening such as baking soda or powder and are therefore verboten. And for Jews of Eastern European ancestry, grains like rice, corn and barley are also off-limits, making almost any commercially produced items a no-go. Sephardic Jews, however, have no prohibitions against grains.
If you care enough to be absolutely sure you’re following the holiday’s dietary laws, you can check USCJ.org or URJ.org for guidance.
Gluten-Free Matzoh Balls
¼ cup chicken fat or other liquid shortening
¼ cup seltzer water
1 cup quinoa flakes
½ teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
Whisk eggs with water and chicken fat.
Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl and add to egg mixture, stirring gently with a spoon to combine. Refrigerate overnight or at least six hours.
Form balls of about two teaspoons of wet mixture with your hands and drop into a large pot of salted, boiling water. When all the balls have risen to the top, turn down to a simmer and cover for 20 minutes.
Cook with the top ajar for the last 10 minutes, raising the heat a little to keep the water at a level simmer.
Remove to warm soup and serve.