This Passover, We’re Getting Creative with Matzo

Matzo-rella sticks, anyone?

By: Amy Kritzer Becker

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Whether you spell it matzah, matzo, matzoh or matza, you can’t have Passover without the unleavened bread. It’s literally a commandment to eat it at your Seder — and to swap your chametz (leavened foods like bread, cookies, grains, etc.) with it during the eight-day-long festival.

But what is matzo? Simple in ingredients yet complex in baking, matzo is merely flour and water that must be fully baked within 18 minutes of the ingredients first coming together. When baked, it becomes a flat, cracker-like wafer.

Like many traditional Jewish foods, there is symbolism behind this famous flatbread. Eating matzo (also known as the bread of affliction) on Passover reminds us that our ancestors had to flee Pharaoh’s army so quickly that they didn’t even have time for their bread dough to rise. Instead, they ate matzo. That first bite of matzo tastes like tradition and reminds us of past Passovers and the difficulties we have overcome.

Although the flavor of matzo is lovingly compared to cardboard, it’s really just a vessel for awesomeness. You would be hard-pressed to find a better Passover snack than matzo schmeared with salted butter, whipped cream cheese, almond butter or your other favorite toppings . And, when you want something a bit more creative, there are tons of ways to transform it.

Though matzo is known for being dense, it makes the perfect crust for matzo-rella sticks (get it?) Mozzarella cheese is coated in a mixture of matzo meal, seltzer, Parmesan and spices, rolled in more matzo meal for crunch, and deep-fried. The result is a crunchy exterior with a soft and cheesy inside that’s perfect for dipping in homemade marinara. Plus, you can use the same ingredients to make matzo pizza (a staple of modern-day Passover diets). The secret to keeping it crispy? Pre-bake the matzo with a layer of cheese before adding the sauce, more cheese and toppings.

Of course, there is so much more that matzo can do. For breakfast, fry matzo in eggs to make a classic matzo brei . Add onions for a savory dish or sugar for sweetness, then serve the brei with lox or jam for an unforgettable meal. And, we simply cannot overlook matzo as dessert. In addition to the addictive chocolate or caramel-covered matzo, the flatbread is also great as matzo s’mores, a wine-soaked layer cake or even matzo granola.

Despite the many ways to use matzo, it is possible to get a little tired of it by day eight of Passover — but that’s why it’s so important to get creative and dress it up! And, even though there’s no rule that you can’t eat matzo pizza in August, it really is that much more special when you save it for the holiday.

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