Passover is a holiday that revolves around food. That may help explain why it is celebrated by more Jews than any other holiday. The eight-day religious observance begins with the Seder dinner, during which symbolic foods are discussed and eaten. Matzo, or unleavened bread, takes center stage. It serves as a reminder of the haste with which the Jews fled enslavement, not even waiting to let their breads rise.
In remembrance, Jewish law dating back to ancient times mandates that no grain or leavened product be eaten for the duration of the holiday? just matzo. Imagine the generations of Jewish cooks who have devised ways to use matzo. Some of these dishes become the stuff of family legends: what Jewish son or daughter can’t wax poetic about their mother’s or grandmother’s or great aunt’s ethereal matzo ball soup? Matzo kugel, a baked casserole using broken or crushed matzo in place of noodles, is another favorite. It is usually served as a side dish, and can be sweet (with dried or fresh fruit, sugar and fruit juice) or savory (with broth and vegetables).
In either case, the farfel, or broken matzo, is bound with eggs and baked. While most Seder tables wouldn’t be complete without a farfel kugel, there’s no reason to relegate this perennial pleaser to a once-a-year treat. Serve this kugel in place of stuffing with turkey or as an any-time accompaniment for roasts. It’s a great do-ahead dish and hearty enough for a main course for vegetarian guests.
By Marge Perry, a food writer in Tenafly, N.J.