Veganizing matzo balls, simple as they are when all is said and done, is surprisingly challenging. I first started to explore ways to make vegan matzo balls when I was developing recipes for my book, Vegan Holiday Kitchen. What I found all over the web were recipes for vegan matzo balls made with tofu.
For many Ashkenazi Jews, even nonreligious ones, tofu isn’t allowable as a Passover food, since beans and bean products (and tofu, of course, is derived from soybeans) aren’t consumed during Passover week. Not only that, but the tofu-based matzo balls I tried to make fell apart when cooked in broth, resulting in an unappealing slurry at the bottom of the pot.
After almost giving up on the task, Seth Branitz, chef and co-owner of Karma Road Organic Café in New Paltz, suggested that I tried quinoa flakes for making vegan matzo balls, and they worked like a charm. That’s what I’ve been using ever since.
You can make these ahead of time; otherwise, you can start making the soup while they’re in the oven — head on over to the recipe for Vegan Matzo Ball Soup. And … there’s even a gluten-free option in the recipe, though in that way, there’s nothing “matzo” about them. They’re still really good, though!
- 1 cup quinoa flakes
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 cup matzo meal (or see gluten-free variation in Notes)
- 1/4 cup neutral vegetable oil (such as safflower)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- A few grindings of black pepper
- Pinch each of onion and garlic powder
- In a large mixing bowl, cover the quinoa flakes with the water. Let stand for 2 or 3 minutes.
- Stir in the matzo meal mix along with the remaining ingredients, and mix until well blended. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
- Just before baking, preheat the oven to 275º F.
- Roll the matzo meal mixture into approximately 1-inch balls; don’t pack them too firmly. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, carefully turning the matzo balls after 10 minutes, until firm to the touch; don’t let them brown.
- If making ahead of time, let the matzo balls cool completely, then cover until needed. Warm them briefly in a medium oven and distribute them among the soup bowls, allowing 3 or 4 matzo balls per serving in the recipe for Vegan Matzo Ball Soup.
To make these gluten-free, substitute 1 1/4 cups quinoa flakes for the matzo meal. Don’t add them to the original quantity of quinoa flakes; this is a separate measure to use dry. A bit more is needed than the quantity of matzo meal for the purpose, as the quinoa flakes are less dense.
These go very quickly and everyone usually wants more, so if you’re increasing the amount of soup to accommodate a larger crowd, or serving more than 8 people, you would do well to double this recipe!
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 202 Total Fat: 8g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 7g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 70mg Carbohydrates: 29g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 0g Protein: 4g
Vegan matzo ball recipes on the web have evolved since my initial research, thanks to the explosion of food blogs run by curious and determined vegan cooks. Some use potato starch (which is fine for Passover), which seems like a good solution and one I’d like to experiment with.
But for now, I’m sticking with my quinoa-based matzo balls. And since I’m already being non-traditional, they’re baked rather than cooked — I’m still nervous about the falling apart factor. And truly, they’re so easy to make.
I’ll admit that these aren’t like your Bubbe’s big, fluffy matzo balls. But neither are they cannonballs. They’re easy to make and quite tasty, adding a huge comfort factor to any kind of broth-y soup.