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Home » Beaucoup Soups, GF Bread-like Things, GFF (Gluten-free friendly), Great grains, Gustatory Ruminations, Holiday eats

Not your mama’s (Gluten-free) Matzoh Balls

Submitted by on March 29, 2009 – 4:52 pm40 Comments
 

 

Look, mom!  A healthy, gluten-free matzoh ball to kvell over.

 

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–which falls on April 8-9th this year– 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.

I discovered two main approaches to GF matzoh ball-making online.  One called for only potato starch in lieu of the matzoh meal, and the other called for a combination of potato starch and almond meal.  Still, I couldn’t help but wonder if there might be a third option.  After all, almond meal is significantly more caloric than the matzoh meal it replaces owing to the natural fat in the nut oils; and since the soup is just the first of many, many courses at the traditional Seder dinner, I’d prefer to pace myself.  As for a matzoh ball made entirely of potato starch?  It seemed like more of a (heavy, heavy) potato dumpling than a matzoh ball to me. Besides, Passover desserts deliver their own fair share of potato starch, and a nice, Jewish gluten-free girl cannot live on potato starch alone.

I 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.

Can you tell which is the "control" matzoh ball and which is the gluten-free one?

Can you tell which is the “control” matzoh ball and which is the gluten-free one?

I decided to use the recipe on the back of a standard matzoh meal box as a foundation off which to riff on several matzoh ball experiments, and prepared a control batch of matzoh-meal matzoh balls against which my gluten-eating husband could judge the experiments.  There were several variables to consider: quinoa flour or quinoa flakes?  Alone or mixed with potato starch?  Water, seltzer or no liquid at all?  Xanthan gum to bind the batter and promote sponginess or no xanthan gum?   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.

Recipe: Tamara’s Gluten-free Quinoa “Matzoh” Balls

Makes 10-12 quinoa 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 the gluten-free mall or your favorite site.  Ancient Harvest is the most well-known manufacturer.

Directions:

  1. Measure out quinoa flakes and xanthan gum and combine in a small bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the two eggs.  Add oil, salt and pepper and beat again until combined.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mix well until combined.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  (You don’t want the matzoh balls to be crowded).
  5. 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.)
  6. Cover pot and cook the quinoa balls, maintaining a rolling boil.  For denser balls, cook for 25-30 minutes.  For fluffier balls, cook 35 minutes.
  7. Remove the balls from boiling water with a slotted spoon and let sit to cool for a few minutes.  Then, refrigerate the balls until ready to serve.
  8. 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.

Approximate nutrition info per ball (assumes recipe makes 10 balls): 150 calories, 7g carbohydrate, of which 0.5g is fiber, 2.5g protein, 13g fat.

So now that you’ve got the renegade GF matzoh ball recipe all squared away, check out this recipe for a newfangled lemongrass matzoh ball soup broth to float them in from NPR!

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40 Comments »

  • mom says:

    The photo looks yummmm, and I admire your efforts to create the perfect gf “matzoh ball”…which leads me to the question of what to call it, since it is not made with matzoh meal. But quinoa ball sounds so, so, un-Passover-like. Do we just use quotation marks around “matzoh”, or make it into a hybrid: matzoa, quinoatzoh, quatzoh, or…. ???

  • Martha Ring says:

    Brilliant, I thought about using quinoa for matzo ball soup and googled a recipe and there it was on this blog! I made them and they are exactly like the real deal and even better for you. I vote “quatzoh ball soup”

  • Tamara says:

    I’m glad you liked them! Now I can sleep at night knowing that all of my failed experimental batches that wound up in the garbage were sacrifices for a greater good.
    I agree… “Quatzoh Ball soup” is the best option by far.

  • QuinoaFan says:

    They turned out great! Thank you very much, will use this recipe over and over.

  • Ellen says:

    These sound great. I will have to give them a try! Thank you for all of your efforts. Sounds like it paid off! G’mar Chatimah Tova!

    ~Ellen

  • Shelley says:

    I am very glad to have found this. I have a small natural food store/gluten-free cafe and being Jewish I am continually being asked to make traditional dishes that have been made gluten-free. I hope you don’t mind if I use your recipe at the store.
    Oh, and I just wanted to mention that although they are not kosher for Passover, there is a line of gluten-free baked goods by Shabtai Bakery. They ship all over the country and their products taste exactly like their glutenous counterparts. The rainbow cake and black and whites are just incredible!

  • Tamara says:

    You are more than welcome to use my recipe, so long as you let me know where your store is so that I can stop by one day for a free bowl of Quatzoh Ball soup! :)
    Thanks for the tip on Shabtai; I’ve come across their rainbow cookies in the past and went a little crazy with them… they are one of my childhood faves.

  • Gina says:

    Wow these were awesome! Thank You! As a newly diagnosed diabetic who likes noodles, pasta, etc these were a excellent substitute in my chicken soup! Just FYI since I did not have any xanthan gum on hand and it is Christmas day I subbed a teaspoon of corn starch – worked really well! I doubled the batch too and it was just fine.

  • [...] the Quinoa Flakes you have leftover from making my gluten-free Quatzoh Balls (of course this will make the recipe more hippie than it is [...]

  • joanne says:

    Can’t wait to try them! I think i will call them “whatza balls” – the what coming, of course, from the second syllable of quinoa.

  • Carin in NJ says:

    Thanks a million for this recipe. Just tried them and they came out great!

    Have you ever frozen them? I used to make my matzo balls ahead and freeze them so that the days right before the holiday would be a bit easier.

    I’m so glad I found your blog!

  • Tamara says:

    Hi, Carin,
    I’ve never tried freezing them, though I can’t imagine any reason why that would be a problem… Let me know how it turns out if you try!

  • Laya says:

    Thanks for saving me the time experimenting. Just curious–did you try any recipes with millet, or sorghum flour? Don’t know how the rabbis feel about those ingredients (it took a few years for quinoa to make it into the “okay” list), but as flours go I like how they taste and work in recipes.

  • Tamara says:

    I did not try either of those flours in my experiments, but did try quinoa flour in all sorts of permutations and it was a huge bust. I suspect that any traditional flour (Rabbi approved or not) will result in a dense, heavy ball that does not cook all the way through, so you’ll have a raw center. In fact, the idea to use quinoa FLAKES instead of quinoa flour was based on the appearance of matzoh meal, which we noticed has larger, lighter particles than a milled flour. In this respect, I’d bet that rolled (gluten free) oats or rolled spelt flakes (for those who can eat gluten) might actually work well, too, but I personally haven’t tested those either.

  • Amy says:

    I tried your recipe and they were a huge hit, even with my gluten eating husband and kids. i will be making these for monday’s seder for my celiac self and my celiac mother. i’m hoping for leftovers!

  • Carin in NJ says:

    Just reporting back that I froze a test batch of quinoa matzoh balls and they were great. I could not see any difference between the fresh and the frozen. So I am making a double batch today, freezing them in a few containers, and will use them throughout Passover.

    Thanks!

  • erica says:

    OMG!!! These were fantastic!! I made them for my niece at our seder and I am now making another batch because she can’t get enough :) thank you sooooo much!!!

  • Amy says:

    these are incredible-way better than potato-based ones we’ve made. this is the only way we make matzah ball soup any more, but we call it “quinoatzah balls”. Mucho gusto!

  • Jennifer says:

    I have a recipe for passover puffs that calls for matzo meal. Do you think the quinoa flakes might work for these, too?

    The recipe calls for water, sugar, oil, matzo meal, slat, cinnamon, eggs – and that’s all.

  • Tamara says:

    I think there’s a good chance that they will… definitely worth a try!

  • Michael says:

    Tamara, these are nothing short of a Mechayeh! Just got the batch done and they turned out perfect. I was going to try some of the other recipes out on the internet but I’m so glad I found yours. Quinoa is amazing and I’m so pleased to see it works perfectly for these “Quatzoh Balls!”

  • [...] un-matzoh balls as the case is, that can be made with quinoa or quinoa flour. For that I used this recipe I found by Tamara Duker, who’s site is basically an awesome nyc gluten free resource. Even [...]

  • [...] un-matzoh balls as the case is, that can be made with quinoa or quinoa flour. For that I used this recipe I found by Tamara Duker, who’s site is basically an awesome nyc gluten free resource. Even though [...]

  • Nahariyah says:

    Do you all know you can get Kosher for Passover GF oat matzo meal as well as GF oat Matza? just google it. I have used it to make oat matzo balls. Definitely did not do it enough to refine the recipe. I’ll leave that to one of you who is more invested in having matzo balls.

  • [...] un-matzoh balls as the case is, that can be made with quinoa or quinoa flour. For that I used this recipe I found by Tamara Duker, who’s site is basically an awesome nyc gluten free resource. Even though [...]

  • Elitza says:

    Thanks for the excellent recipe! Paired with vegetable broth (seasoned with onion, carrot and dill to mimic chicken soup), it was a very welcome option for wheat-free vegetarian guests: Vegetarian Quatzoh Ball Soup.

  • Karen says:

    This recipe is a Godsend. I made mine vegetarian as well, with the dill, carrots, celery and parsley. Amazing. They held together so well and tasted so good! Thank you! This was one of the dishes I missed the most since going GF 7 years ago!

  • sarah says:

    Hi. I am going to try this recipe, sounds fantastic, but want to freeze and take with me on my trip to visit my children/grandchildren. I’ll be cooking/freezing all my food & taking along so that I have time over there to enjoy precious time with my yummy grandkids.
    Have any of you tried freezing these? Would you recommend or say save it for when you can eat them fresh?
    Thanks so much.
    Sarah

  • sarah says:

    Nahariyah,

    Some celiac patients can not tolerate oats and when first diagnosed, since many doctors don’t know a lot about the gluten free diet, assume that they can have gluten free oats & it takes a very long time for them to figure out what they are eating that is making them sicker. I am one such patient and it took me close to a year to discover this fact and it is taking more than a year to undo the damage the gluten free oats did to me. I’m only writing this because I think it’s important when offering recipes and advice to people on a gluten free diet to mention that not all celiac patients can tolerate the gluten free oats. (the gluten free oat bag notes this but in very tiny lettering in a very unnoticeable way)My friend who gave me the oat challah recipe had no idea about this and innocently thought she was helping me enhance my limited diet. Her dad has celiac and has no problem with the gluten free oats.
    Hoping to be helping others avoid what I had to go through with this message.
    Thank you.
    Sarah

  • Tamara says:

    Hi, Sarah,
    Another reader (Carin) reported back that her frozen Quatzoh balls tasted as good as fresh (scroll down for her comments), so you should have no problem making them in advance. Enjoy the grandkids!

  • sarah says:

    Tamara, thank you so much for posting your reply. I can’t wait to try these!
    Happy Chanukah :)

  • Mara says:

    Thank you for posting this. I have tried so many recipes for two of my children and my husband. I am really excited to try this. I have faith that quinoa is the way to go.

  • Elaine says:

    These came out excellent! I addedmto the mixture some onion powder, garlic powder, dried chives. I boiled them in chicken broth. I boiled them for 45 minutes. Excellent! Thank you.

  • tess says:

    I am so upset…I don’t know what happened I followed this to a tee and they were just a complete flop. Before the 25 minutes in the rolling boil was even up…they had fallen apart. I had pieces of exploded matzah-less balls all through in my previously clear soup. I don’t know what happened..I did everything as written. :-( ((((

  • Tamara says:

    That’s terrible! Just going down the troubleshooting list:
    Did you use quinoa FLAKES and not quinoa or quinoa flour?
    Did you remember to include the xanthan gum?
    Did you chill the mixture before adding to the water?
    Was the water already boiling when you added the balls?

    I don’t know what else to say… my batch this year turned out great as always, and everyone whose commented so far has also had great success with the recipe…

  • Laurie says:

    Hi Tamara,

    I just wanted to say thank you so much for this recipe! I am recently gluten-free so I’m still learning the ropes. I decided to give these a try for our Passover Seder. They were superb and a great hit…even with the picky, non-GF members of my family. I’m definitely not waiting til next Passover to make them again! Thanks!

  • Alissa says:

    This is terrific!! I made them for my immediate and extended family suffering with gluten intolerance and trying to consume paleo diet food (even though quinoa is not really true paleo–they felt like it was a better option than matzoh meal option). The texture was spot on. They only thing I noticed was that there could have been more salt. The quinoa has such a distinct and delish nutty flavor, but matzoh ball (now quatzoh ball) soup should taste salty (in my palate opinion). Thank you for sharing this!! I think boiling them in chicken stock and adding more spices (onion, garlic, etc. as previously suggested) would make these perfect. Thank you for sharing. Many happy returns!

  • Susan says:

    I just found this Gluten Free Passover cookbook on iTunes from glutenfreematzo.com.
    The recipes look amazing and good for year round.

    http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/gluten-free-passover-cookbook/id510576449?mt=11

  • Kit says:

    Just made this tonight, turned out great! Even a picky gluten intolerant eater liked it. This made our Pesach complete. Thank you!

  • Marcey Siegel says:

    I have been using a recipe with GF Oat Matza Meal for the past 3 years. It has a slightly bitter after taste to it and I can’t get the right texture. This quinoa flake recipe sounds like a great option, but I am wondering if xanthan gum is kosher for Passover?

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