BY RON FEINBERG / WEB EDITOR //
Just a few more days, and I’ll be off my matzah diet for another year. It’s been a challenge once again, finding ways to enjoy the crumbly stuff while keeping my, ah, system from clogging up.
In the last week, I’ve eaten matzah with butter, jam and jellies – all kosher for Passover, natch. I caved in and tried matzah-based cereals, pasta, cakes and cookies, and I chowed down on matzah brei, matzah turnovers and matzah covered in chocolate.
But mostly, I’ve been nibbling on plain matzah. Truth to tell, for a week once a year, it’s not bad! In fact, sticking to the dietary laws of Passover – aside from the religious and spiritual benefits – goes a long way in helping me appreciate the good food available the rest of the year.
Given my efforts to stay away from sugar and carbs, I won’t be ending the holiday with a treat from Dunkin’ Donuts this year. A nice piece of whole wheat bread, however, is floating about in my daydreams at the moment and will serve nicely to reintroduce me to the joys of leavened goods.
I’m also hoping bread and other sugary goodies will go a long way in unplugging my digestive system and once again introduce my gut to the concept of “going on-demand.” I have a theory that the Children of Israel managed to easily conquer Canaan because they were cosmically angry after wandering about for 40 years in a constipated funk.
That said, I do have a little problem as the holiday plays out. As usual, it’s looking like we’ll have a few stray bits and pieces of matzah once Passover ends. In an effort to find a way to deal with the excess in some sort of creative fashion, I began surfing the web recently.
After working my way through the usual stuff – matzah kugels, casseroles and dumplings – I stumbled across a tasty treasure: Dark Chocolate Banana Matzah Brei. This little bit of unleavened heaven was buried in a blog, “The Bitten Word,” pulled together by Zach and Clay, two very Southern and very Protestant guys who readily admit they knew little about matzah before spotting a tasty recipe in that oh-so Jewish magazine: Martha Stewart Living! Go figure.
The guys report they were intrigued by the recipe that featured leftover matzah. They, of course, didn’t have any matzah around the house, but that problem was easily solved by visiting their local grocery store.
Now, matzah has suddenly become the go-to dessert ingredient in their kitchen. I’ll let Zach and Clay finish this tasty tale:
“We initially selected the original recipe for Banana-Maple Matzah Brei because we thought it was a dessert. But when it came time to make it, we realized that it’s actually a breakfast dish, like a matzah-based take on French toast.
But that still didn’t keep us from serving it for dessert one night when friends were over. And we all loved it. Yes, it was essentially a brunch item, but the crispy browned matzah was delicious with bananas and maple syrup.
But then, after making that dish, we found ourselves in the very predicament that Martha had foreshadowed: leftover matzah.
So we kept using it. We made matzah desserts with ice cream. We created chocolate-and-peanut butter sauces to drizzle over broken-up and crisped matzah. But our favorite variation was this one: Dark Chocolate Banana Matzah Brei.
Just as with Martha’s original breakfast variation, we pan-fried a mixture of matzah, banana, egg and chocolate, and then topped it with banana slices and a drizzle of chocolate.
So now, in the unlikeliest of scenarios, it looks like matzah may have become a staple at our house. Can it be long before we’re making matzah ball soup?”
Dark Chocolate Banana Matzah Brei (serves 2)
3 matzot (broken into 2-inch pieces)
1 banana, plus more banana slices
1 tablespoon of honey
2 ounces of dark chocolate, chopped into pebble-size pieces, plus additional ½-ounce for melting
2 tablespoons milk
¼-cup vegetable oil, plus 1 additional tablespoon
1 large egg
¼-teaspoon coarse salt
Soak matzah in cold water for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander. Mash banana using a fork. Add oil, egg and salt to mashed banana. Gently stir in matzah, chopped chocolate and honey. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Spread matzah mixture evenly in skillet, pressing gently. Cook until underside is golden, about 4 minutes. Flip using a spatula (mixture may break up). Cook until underside is golden, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a microwave-safe bowl, melt ½-ounce chocolate with the milk. Transfer the banana matzah to plates. Top with banana slices and drizzle with the melted chocolate. Enjoy!
Zach and Clay live and eat in Washington, D.C. Zach is a journalist and Clay works for a nonprofit. Their blog, “The Bitten Word, can be found at thebittenword.com.