Nothing says Passover like matzoh ball soup, the original Jewish comfort food. Feeling under the weather? Have some matzoh ball soup. Depressed? Have some matzoh ball soup. Homesick? Defrost some of mom’s matzoh ball soup. Matzoh ball soup devotees tend to fall into one of two camps: those who prefer a feather-light “floater,” and those who prefer a firm, dense “sinker.”
Of course, for those of us who can no longer partake in matzoh or its glutinous derivatives such as the matzoh meal used to make matzoh balls, the soup course of the Passover Seder is a sad, sad time. What’s more depressing than spending two hours recalling your ancestors’ persecution and suffering, only to be served a steaming bowl of plain, matzohball-less broth? While I’ve tolerated this indignity in years past, I decided that this year, it was time to MMODGFMB. That’s Hebrew for: make my own damn gluten-free matzoh balls. Enough was enough.
II decided to see if I could find a gluten-free flour that was also kosher for Passover with which to fashion my GF matzoh balls. I even consulted the family Rabbi, who confirmed what I had hoped: quinoa is considered by most authorities to be kosher for Passover. Now, without delving into theological intricacies, I will mention that quinoa flakes may or may not be processed in a facility that is free of all off-limits-for-Passover grains, so if you’re on the more religiously observant side, you may want to err on the side of caution here. And that’s all I’ll say on that topic.
It took two days and 8 different experiments, but I am happy to report that the following recipe produced a matzoh-less quinoa “matzoh ball” that is firm but not dense, fluffy but not overly feathery. It tastes like a matzoh ball is supposed to taste, and it’s made with whole grain, high-protein, quinoa flakes instead of starchy or heavy alternatives.
Tamara’s Gluten-free Quinoa “Matzoh” Balls (or, Quatzoh Balls)
Makes 10 quinoa matzoh balls
- 1 cup quinoa flakes*
- 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp salt (use regular iodized salt, not kosher salt)
- A sprinkle of ground black pepper to your liking
* look for quinoa flakes in the hot cereal/oatmeal section of your grocery store, or order online from your favorite site. Ancient Harvest is the most well-known manufacturer.
- Measure out quinoa flakes and xanthan gum and combine in a small bowl.
- In a separate bowl, beat the two eggs. Add oil, salt and pepper and beat again until combined.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mix well until combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. (You don’t want the matzoh balls to be crowded).
- Remove batter from refrigerator and wet hands. With wet hands, fashion a SMALL amount of batter into a smooth ball shape and drop into the boiling water. (For reference, the batter should be enough to make 10-12 matzoh balls, so portion each one accordingly. Each uncooked ball should be no larger than the size of a ping-pong ball… they will expand when cooking, and if they’re too big, the middle may not cook through sufficiently.)
- Cover pot and cook the quinoa balls, maintaining a rolling boil. Cook 40-45 minutes. To check for readiness, you can sacrifice one ball from the batch and cut into it. The center should be cooked through, not dark, dry or dense.
- Turn off heat and let the matzoh balls sit in the cooking water to set for another 30 minutes or so. Then, remove the balls from boiling water with a slotted spoon and let sit to cool for a few minutes. Refrigerate the balls until ready to serve.
- Before serving, place quinoa balls in pot of soup to warm them through. Serve, and accept heaping praise from your gluten-intolerant guests at what a considerate host you are.