On the Jewish food scene: Made with matzah

By Rabbi Rachel Esserman

My first reaction was, “I can wait until the holiday is over.” The food in question is one of my favorite desserts: tiramisu, which is usually made with soft, melt in your mouth lady fingers. The blurb in The Nosher e-mail asked me to click through to “The Easiest Matzah Tiramisu Recipe.” As I said, my first reaction was “forget it.” I can’t see eating something mediocre, when I can just wait a few days for the real thing. (However, for anyone interested in trying it, you can find the recipe here. Please note I’ll be happy to taste test it for you if you do. Yes, I know I’m contradicting myself, but any food I didn’t have to make/cook is fine with me.)

The issue of the paper with this column should arrive during the first few days of Passover. At first, holiday meals are easy because who doesn’t relish all the holiday favorites. Any excuse to have matzah ball soup is a good excuse. Anyone who adores gefilte fish may be lucky enough to eat the home-made or store-made version. For people who live for charoset (that’s me!), this is a great time of year. But soon all those leftovers from the seder meal are gone and we’re left with the question,”What do I eat now?” 

One trend is to make not-normally-kosher-for-Passover food with matzah. One recent favorite is matzah pizza. Yes, it’s been done so often that it isn’t called pizza made from matzah, but matzah pizza as if it’s a real food. As much as I miss pizza during Passover (even if I hadn’t eaten it in months), I’m not a big fan of matzah pizza, although I know my mom used to make it. I prefer to wait until Chag Hapizza (that’s the holiday of pizza) that starts after sunset the last day of the holiday to have the real thing. There is another alternative, though, if you can find kosher-for-Passover gluten-free cauliflower crusts since cauliflower itself is kosher for Passover. (For those who want to try matzah pizza, you can find recipes here and here.) 

Those desperate for Italian food can now find kosher for Passover noodles, but some folks still replace the noodles with matzah. If you want a something that tastes like the real thing, though, you can make eggplant parmesan and replace the bread crumbs with matzah meal. My mom and I used to do that, and it was great when I needed to take five days worth of meals into the office. We made a big pan and I would just cut a square and use the office microwave to heat it. We never had a formal recipe: it was basically layers of eggplant, sauce, veggies and cheese. One year, I made it without breading the eggplant and it was still fine.

I think I’m probably going to take the easiest route this Passover because I’m usually too tired at the end of the day to do much cooking. That means meals featuring matzah and a nut butter (almond if you don’t eat beans, lentils and rice, or peanut if you do) and a salad. There’s always gefilte fish (sigh, from a jar) and potatoes. Even though the holiday hadn’t started while I was writing this column, thinking about it made me ready for it to be over.