With Passover right around the corner I wanted to talk a little bit about keeping a gluten-free diet on Pesach. It might seem that it would be much easier to eat gluten-free since on Passover you can’t use the gluten containing grains except for matzah. While that is true, people have a tendency to sneak matzah meal into everything so it wouldn’t be unlikely to go to a seder meal and find that every single dish has gluten in it. That being said, Passover is also a great time to be gluten-free because there are many many more gluten-free products available during Passover that might not be available year round. For people on a gluten-free diet who don’t keep kosher or celebrate Passover this is the time to check out the kosher section of your local grocery store and stock up.
Obviously the easiest way to stay gluten-free during passover is to steer clear of the matzah and matzah meal and stick to fresh fruits and vegetables and unbreaded proteins. Quinoa or potatoes of any kind are a good choice for a starchy side dish. Any product labeled “non-gebrotz” is gluten free as well. While that type of diet is perfectly filling and satisfying (it is how we eat around here much of the year) it can be hard to go through the holiday without any of the traditional holiday staples that depend on matzah, like matzah balls, matzah brei or even caramel matzah crunch. There is gluten-free oat matzah available but it is hard to come by and very expensive to use for anything but the seder.
This year the people from Yehudah Matzah sent me a sample of their gluten-free matzah style squares. I was prepared to be underwhelmed to say the least. I have tried many disappointing gluten-free crackers and I figured that with the additional requirements of Pesach these would be just ok at best. Well I was wrong. They are absolutely delicious. While they do not taste so much like matzah, they may be some of the best gluten-free crackers I have ever had. They are crunchy and flavorful and do not taste gluten-free at all. I wanted to test recipes with the matzah they sent me and I ended up having to buy another box because everyone in my family kept snacking on them. They are made without any grain so they can not be used as matzah for the seder, but they are a delicious thing to have on hand throughout the week. Even better, since there are no grain products of any kind in these “matzah style crackers” anything made with them is still non-gebrotz. Yes, it is true, non-gebrotz matzah balls are possible!
To make the matzah balls I ground the matzah sheets up in the food processor as fine as I could and used them in my standard matzah ball recipe. I had to use a bit more of the ground matzah than I do matzah meal but the matzah balls came out delicious. Interestingly they were fluffy while my recipe usually makes denser matzah balls. They did not hold up for as long in the soup and got mushy after a few hours so I would recommend making them as close to the serving time as possible. I also used the gluten-free matzah sheets in my Pesach granola recipe and it was crunchy and delicious. Other people have used it successfully in both matzah brei and caramel matzah crunch so I imagine it should work in most matzah applications.
Even though we can eat regular matzah in our house I bought several more boxes of this for us to enjoy over Passover. We will see which gets eaten first, but I suspect it will be this because it will be nice not to have to go to all the trouble of washing and bentching just to have a small snack of matzah spread with cream cheese and jelly. I have to admit I have a bit of a bias when it comes to gluten-free packaged products and I am predisposed not to like them but these are absolutely worth buying.
Disclamer: I did receive a free sample of the Yehudah Gluten Free Matzah Style Squares but all opinions in this post are entirely my own.