Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Gluten-Free Matzo Balls - Recipe #1

You knew I wasn't going to let this week go by without posting a gluten-free matzo ball recipe, right?

Matza balls, matzah balls, matzo balls, kneidlach, knaidlach, knaidls.... However you choose to spell it, these tasty dumplings are the culinary focal point of the Passover seder for many Jews, myself included. Good gluten-free matzo balls are elusive - Most of the recipes I found online featured ingredients that are definitely not kosher for Passover, or that were far too obscure to be practical.

While nothing will ever be quite as delicious as the "real thing", these gluten-free kneidlach come closer to capturing the texture I was looking for than any other recipe I've tried. I can't see myself eating 5 of them (which is my usual matzo ball quota, when I can get away with it), but I definitely enjoyed two of them floating in my soup last night. The texture was closer to what I was hoping for than I'd imagined possible. Choose a very finely ground blanched almond meal for the best texure. If you aren't vegetarian, you'll find it well worth using chicken fat (such as the fat that you skim off the top of the chicken soup, allowed to cool and solidify) instead of oil.

There are three kinds of matzo balls, in my family's lexicon: "Clouds" are light and fluffy all the way through; "cannonballs" are dense and firm throughout; and then there are "Dad's matzo balls" a/k/a The Perfect Matzo Balls, which are firm and dense within but have a fluffier layer around the outside. Dad's matzo balls are preferable to me, followed by cannonballs. These gluten-free matzo balls undoubtedly fall into the cannonball category. If you'd like to try to get them lighter, I'd recommend whipping the egg whites into stiff peaks and gently folding them into the batter at the last minute.

A note about flax seeds: These are considered kosher for Passover by some, and kitniyot by others. If you use them, be sure to use finely ground flax meal. If you consider flax seed to be kitniyot, try omitting this ingredient.

Since many of you will be making these only for one or two family members with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, this recipe is for a small batch - It will make enough kneidlach to serve 2-3 people.


1/4 cup finely ground almond meal
1/4 cup potato starch
1 Tbsp flax meal (finely ground flax seeds)
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
1 tsp minced fresh dill
1 Tbsp chicken fat, vegetable oil, or softened margarine

Beat egg with salt and pepper. Add remaining ingredients, and combine well. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Add additional potato starch, if necessary, until the batter is firm enough to be rolled into balls with your hands - It will still be sticky, but not too wet to handle. Using clean, dry hands roll a tablespoon of dough at a time into balls. Submerge in boiling water or soup. Allow to cook for approximately 10 minutes or until each ball has puffed up a bit and is cooked all the way through.


Flamenco Mom said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this recipe! Growing up in NYC, one of my favorite places to eat was at a small diner that made the best chicken-matzo ball soup in the world. Can't find it anywhere around here, so I've been wanted to make my own. Joy!!!

the chocolate doctor מרת שאקאלאד said...

This looks amazing! Beautiful work--I will let you know if I try it. I am not currently "auditioning" any more peysekh recipes, because I want to, you know, save it, even if that means a few surprises during the holiday.

I would just add that if you use flax, I would recommend checking the grains and grinding your own meal, same as with hemp. said...

Flamenco Mom: Glad I could help - Let me know how they turn out for you. They're definitely not 2nd Avenue Deli matzo balls, but I enjoyed them.

Chocolate Lady: Yes, I'm about to stop auditioning recipes, too. The last one I intend to "audition" is a noodle kugel! And thanks for the reminder about flax - yes, of course, for Pesach they should be checked over and ground at home. For these I used pre-ground Bob's Red Mill flax meal since it's pre-Pesach and I'm not as strict about Pesach kashrut as other people are (yet).

I Am Gluten Free said...

I am definitely going to try these. But I'm also wondering about making your previously posted recipe for GF matzo (gonna do that tomorrow) and using that to make the matzo balls. What do you think?

ByTheBay said...

Ellen - I don't think I'd suggest using the matzo recipe I posted to make matzo balls. It might work out (if you try it please let me know!), but those mock matzot really do have a different texture than traditional matzo - Might as well skip the step of making matzo out of them and just use the ingredients in a different proportion to make matzo balls! Whatever you try, good luck - and chag sameach!

Anonymous said...

OK. what if I need my GF matzo balls egg free as well? should I just use tofu or Energ Egg replacer instead? Need for Rosh Hashanna not passover

ByTheBay said...

AJ: Thanks for your comment/questions. If you're making these for Passover and you are Ashkenazi, tofu wouldn't be an option because soy is considered "kitniyot" - Sephardi Jews do/can eat soy products at Pesach, though. I don't think kosher-for-Passover egg replacer is available. However, if this isn't for Passover or you aren't observant, you have more options. I have had very bad experiences trying to make egg-free matzo balls during the time I was vegan (before being gluten-free) - They have always fallen apart and had a yucky texture. I know people who've had better luck, though. You might try using extra potato starch and mashed potato to bind the kneidlach, or tapioca flour which is very "gluey". I think my potato kneidlach recipe (also on this blog) would work better without eggs than this "matzo ball" recipe would - It'd be easier to keep it together. You can also look up other vegan dumpling and kneidlach recipes (including ones that aren't gluten-free) to see if you can find out what other people use as a binder. In my experience tofu doesn't work well as a binder - But egg replacer, tapioca starch and potato starch certainly do. If you try it let me know how they turn out!

Anonymous said...

we do sephardic Passover, and aren't completely observant anyways but I am making them for Rosh Hashanna dinner (on Sunday). I don't know, I might just skip them this year and practice when there isn't so much pressure with family. I just think it might have to be a matza ball free holiday. I love to cook but I haven't experimented with many of the different flours available since going g-f. Thanks for your site. I can imagine living off of it for passover and other holidays in the future

Unknown said...

Found this recipe this morning and tried it tonight. Came out great! Quite easy and everyone, gluten free and glutenous enjoyed it. Was exciting when they floated to the top! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Dave, for the RELEVANT comment! i.e. how they 'came out'. Tips, modifications also helpful in forums like this.

Lrimerman said...

Can I ask what Almond Meal you use for a fine texture? I usually can find Bob's Red Mill here but it is pretty course.

I am going to try these. Last year I made matzoh and matzoh balls, but the recipe was not very good for the matzoh balls and my son reacted to the matzoh (oat flour that wasn't actually Gluten Free..I was still very early into this, much more knowledgeable now.)

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for the gluten free matzoh ball recipe...while I am not bemoaning the gluten free pathway I have to follow, I do miss many of the wonderful gluten loaded foods of the past...Matzo balls being a significant loss...this recipe will help salve that loss...

Adrienne said...

I was wondering if I can make the matzo balls with corn starch. I can not find potato starch this time of year in the small town I live in.

Thank you.

kg said...

Hello! I know you posted this a long time ago, and it doesn't look like you are still current, but maybe you'll get this? :) I'm wondering if I can make these Matzo balls a few days ahead and then use them?

Thank you!