A Gluten-Free Pesach
By the end of Pesach, I sometimes envy people who eat a very simple diet of matzah, boiled chicken, potatoes and carrots during most of the holiday. But then I realize how boring it would be. I’m much too used to a wide variety of food and new recipes. Besides, my family would rebel if they had to eat boiled chicken all week long!
Fortunately, I’m one of those women who enjoy cooking for Passover. Really now – it’s only a week, and there’s plenty of fresh produce to choose from. Here in Israel we’re lucky to have hormone-free kosher chicken and many varieties of fresh fish. If the weather’s still chilly, I make vegetable soups like sweet potato, potato-leek, asparagus and zucchini. In warmer weather I prepare salads with lots of vegetables or fruits (fresh or dried) and nuts.
Special diets can add to the challenge of Pesach cooking, but they shouldn’t keep anyone from eating healthy and tasty meals. If you’re gluten intolerant (unable to fully digest gluten – a component of wheat, rye, barley and other grains), you’ll have to forgo matzah balls as well as baked goods and kugels made with matzah meal. Forget most of those store-bought cakes and cookies.
Passover noodles and soup almonds made with potato starch are usually fine for a gluten-free diet, but check labels carefully. Many macaroons are made without matzah or cake meal, and they should be allright as well.
What about matzah? That’s certainly a challenge if you can’t eat gluten. For the seder, try gluten-free oat matzah. Very expensive, but as far as I know, they are the only ones acceptable for fulfilling the mitzvah of eating matzah at the seder.
After the seder, I suggest Gluten Free Matzo – an Israeli product produced by the Yehuda company. It’s made from tapioca and potato starch, palm oil (not great, but you’re only eating it once a year), egg yolks and honey. I gave out samples to several people – some gluten-intolerant, others not. Everyone found them crisp, flaky and very tasty. In fact, their taste is closer to potato chips than regular wheat matzah. They are certified Gluten-Free and O-U parve. (The brachah is “shehakol”.) If you can’t find them locally, order them on line at GlutenFreeMatzo.com. Use their code GFM979 to receive a free box of matzah with your order.