Chopped Passover Salad with Beet Horseradish Dressing and Crispy Matzah Balls. (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Chopped Passover Salad with Beet Horseradish Dressing and Crispy Matzah Balls. (Photo/Faith Kramer)

These crispy li’l matzah balls go with everything

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I’ve given some traditional Passover foods a bit of an untraditional spin this year, making my matzah balls crispy and changing up the flavors of dishes to accompany them.

Passover Chopped Salad with Beet Horseradish Dressing uses mini-size Crispy Matzah Balls as croutons (an alternative to the fried matzah balls is offered). The dressing is based on the Ashkenazi Passover favorite: horseradish with beets, usually served with gefilte fish.

Horseradish as a bitter herb is part of many Eastern European seders. The salad recipe features romaine lettuce, frequently eaten as a bitter herb in Sephardic households. Other ingredients also have a Passover connection: Leeks and cucumbers are said to be among the foods the formerly enslaved Jews missed when they left Egypt. Parsley is often used as the vegetable dipped in salt water during the seder.

Both garlic and onion were said to be missed by the Jews during their long wandering through the desert. The chopped onions in the Chicken Onion Soup sweeten as they cook, adding a special depth of flavor to the soup, which is served with either full- or mini-size Crispy Matzah Balls. The mini Crispy Matzah Balls make great “dippers” for the earthy sharpness of the Beet and Garlic Dip.


Passover Chopped Salad with Beet Horseradish Dressing

Serves 8

  • Mini Crispy Matzah Balls (see recipe)
  • Beet Horseradish Dressing (see below)
  • 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup total chopped red, yellow and/or orange bell peppers
  • 1 cup chopped fennel or celery
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber
  • ½ cup plus 1 Tbs. chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped leek (white part only) or green onions
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fennel fronds or dill

Have ready matzah balls and dressing. Reheat matzah balls if desired. Use warm or at room temperature.

In a large bowl, toss together lettuce, peppers, fennel, carrots, cucumber, ½ cup parsley, leek and fennel fronds. Just before serving, add 1 Tbs. dressing and toss again, repeating as needed until the salad is lightly coated with dressing. Divide onto individual serving plates, and top each portion with Crispy Matzah Balls and garnish with 1 Tbs. parsley. Serve remaining dressing alongside.

Beet Horseradish Dressing: Combine ¼ cup fresh lemon juice; 6 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; 2 Tbs. refrigerated, commercially prepared kosher-for-Passover beet horseradish; ½ tsp. salt; ½ tsp. sugar; and ⅛ tsp. ground black pepper. Mix well. Taste (it will not taste as strong on the salad). Adjust seasonings as needed. Stir well before using. Can be made 2 days ahead and kept refrigerated. Use at room temperature.

Note: If desired, use broken pieces of matzah instead of Crispy Matzah Balls as salad “croutons.”


Chicken Onion Soup

  • Full or mini-size Crispy Matzah Balls (see recipe)
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 10 cups thinly sliced and coarsely chopped onions (cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 1 tsp. plus ½ tsp. salt, plus more as desired
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper, divided, plus more as desired
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped garlic
  • 3 qts. homemade or prepared chicken broth
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne (ground red pepper), optional
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 cups sliced carrots cut into ¼-inch rounds
  • 8 oz. cremini or white button mushrooms
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 Tbs. balsamic or apple cider vinegar, plus more as desired
  • 3 Tbs. chopped parsley or dill for garnish

Time the cooking of the matzah balls or reheat them so they are ready to serve with the soup.

Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, stirring to coat with oil. Lower heat to medium, stir in 1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. black pepper and sauté onions, stirring often. Keep cooking, stirring often, until the onions have been greatly reduced down, are very soft and are beginning to turn golden brown. Add garlic. Continue cooking until the onions are a deep bronze color and taste sweet. Adjust heat as needed so onions do not char or burn. Drizzle in additional oil as needed. (This could take 50-60 minutes.) Onions can be cooked up to 3 days ahead. Store airtight in refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using.

While the onions are cooking, add chicken broth to a large soup pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat with bay leaf, cayenne, ½ tsp. salt and remaining ½ tsp. black pepper. Add raw chicken. Return soup to a simmer. Cover. Adjust heat to keep at a simmer. Poach chicken for about 10-15 minutes or until just cooked through (do not overcook). Remove chicken to rimmed plate and let cool. Shred into bite-sized pieces.

Raise heat to medium. Add carrots. Simmer covered until carrots have begun to soften (about 5 minutes). Clean and trim stems off mushrooms. Cut into quarters. Add mushrooms and celery to pot. Return to simmer. Cover and keep at simmer until mushrooms have begun to soften (5-10 minutes). Stir in onions and garlic. Simmer covered 5 minutes. Stir in wine and vinegar. Return to a simmer. Stir in shredded chicken with any accumulated liquid and simmer covered until chicken is heated through (10-15 minutes).

Taste, and add salt and pepper if desired. Stir well and taste again, adding more vinegar if needed to balance onions’ sweetness. Soup can be made up to 3 days ahead and simmered covered on stove until reheated. Have matzah balls hot or warm when ready to serve. Serve soup in individual bowls topped with Crispy Matzah Balls and sprinkled with parsley.

Notes: Soup can be served by itself or with your favorite matzah ball recipe instead of the Crispy Matzah Balls. If making for Passover, look for Passover-certified wine and vinegar. To use cooked chicken, add 4 cups room-temperature shredded chicken after simmering the vinegar and wine in the soup and skip poaching steps.

Crispy Matzah Balls and Chicken Onion Coup (Photo/Faith Kramer)
Crispy Matzah Balls and Chicken Onion Coup (Photo/Faith Kramer)

Beet and Garlic Dip

Makes 8 servings (1½ cups)

Dip:

  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup garlic cloves
  • 1 cup cooked, sliced beets, drained if canned (see note), sliced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. chopped mint

For serving:

  • Mini Crispy Matzah Balls (see recipe below), hot, warm or at room temperature
  • Vegetable crudités

Put juice and garlic in blender jar. Process at high speed until smooth. Add beets. Process, scraping jar down as needed, until smooth. Add olive oil, salt and 2 Tbs. mint. Process until creamy. Use immediately or serve chilled for a thicker dip. (Can be made up to 3 days in advance. Store airtight in refrigerator.) Garnish with 1 tsp. mint. Serve with mini Crispy Matzah Balls and/or crudités.

Note: An 8.25-oz. can, drained, will yield about 1 cup sliced beets.


Crispy Matzah Balls

Makes 18-20 full size, 40-45 minis

  • 4 plus 2 large eggs
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil, plus more as needed
  • 3 Tbs. water
  • 1 tsp. salt, divided
  • 2 cups matzah meal, divided
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil

Beat 4 eggs in large bowl. Stir in ¼ cup oil, water and ¼ tsp. salt. Mix in 1 cup matzah meal until well combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours up to overnight. Prep for draining and drying the matzah balls by placing wire racks over rimmed baking trays. Coat a plate with oil, and grease hands.

For full-size matzah balls, roll into compact 1½-inch balls, compressing batter and keeping the balls as smooth and round as possible. Place on plate.

For minis, roll the batter into ½-inch compact balls. Place on oiled plate.

Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add ¼ tsp. salt. Gently add matzah balls and reduce to a simmer. Cover and keep pot at a simmer. (If making both full-size and mini matzah balls, simmer separately.) Simmer until matzah balls are cooked through with no raw spots in the middle. Simmer minis about 10-12 minutes, full size about 25-30 minutes. Use tongs or slotted spoon to transfer matzah balls to wire racks. Let rest about 2 hours until matzah balls have firmed up and surface is dry. (Matzah balls can be stored airtight for 3 days in refrigerator. Allow to come to room temperature before proceeding and wipe off any moisture with a paper towel.)

Beat 2 eggs in a shallow bowl. Mix remaining 1 cup matzah meal with remaining ½ tsp. salt and pepper in a second shallow bowl.

Heat 2 inches oil in a large, deep skillet to 360 degrees on a deep fry/candy thermometer (or until a bit of matzah meal sizzles upon contact).

Roll matzah balls in egg, shaking off any excess, then roll in matzah meal, again shaking off any excess. Fry in batches in oil, turning often, until outside coating is golden brown and crispy. Allow about 1½ -2 minutes for the minis, 2-2½ minutes for the full size. Let oil return to temperature between batches. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately. For hotter matzah balls, warm fried balls in a 350-degree oven on an ungreased baking sheet, turning occasionally, until heated through, 10-20 minutes. Fried matzah balls can be made 1 day ahead, stored airtight in refrigerator, brought to room temperature and reheated the same way.

Note: This recipe makes sturdy, slightly chewy matzah balls that are good on their own without frying, if desired. Because they are so compact, they will not expand as much as more traditional matzah balls.

Faith Kramer
Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer and the author of “52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen.” Her website is faithkramer.com. Contact her at [email protected].