The decision to stop eating “meat” was an easy one for me. At the time, it had very little to do with ethics and was almost entirely driven by health. I gave up eating red meat first, but that didn’t last long and soon I was eating veggie burgers while the rest of my family continued in their carnivorous ways.
And I did miss these for a period. That feeling, however, faded when I became a more adventurous pescatarian and learned the simple pleasures, and enormous flavors, that came from vegetables or tofu or a fillet of salmon.
Despite this, some of my cravings still linger. But it’s not what you think. I’m not itching for a big steak or a hunk o’ hamburger. What I miss the most are the dishes that contain meat, but are masked by vegetarian-friendly ingredients Try finding a bowl of matzo ball soup that doesn’t have chicken stock in it and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
So, I decided if there was ever a chance that I’d get to eat it again, I’d have to make it myself.
Matzo ball soup is a staple in our house this time of year. The dumplings are filling and flavorful and can be made in under an hour. A cup of matzo meal, a pinch of salt and pepper, a couple of eggs…. there isn’t much that goes into the preparation.
But the result is the ultimate in comfort food. Each week, I prepare a batch and we consume it over a few days, Eric bringing it to work, then having a bowl in the evening. For those who grew up with matzo balls, it’s one of those things that’s hard to get bored by.
That being said, it is a lot of fun to play around with their flavor. I’ve used curry powder, sriacha sauce, and tomato paste in others. But the simplest, lightest, and most aesthetically interesting, in my opinion, are ones made with spinach.
Spinach Matzo Balls
Makes approx. 10 matzo balls
1/2 cup matzo meal
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
2 tablespoon seltzer
3/4 cup fresh spinach leaves, washed and dried
In a bowl, add all of the ingredients, with the exception of the spinach. Mix everything together and set aside.
Run the spinach leaves through a food processor until finely chopped. Add to matzo ball mixture and stir until full incorporated.
Place the bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, fill a large pot with 1 1/2 quarts of salted water and bring to a boil.
When it has come to a rolling boil, spoon a tablespoon of the matzo ball mixture into your hands and roll into a ball. Gently drop it into the water. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
Cover the pot with a lid, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
At this point, heat up your veggie or chicken broth (either homemade or store bought), add some chopped carrots and celery if you’d like.
Ladle some soup into a bowl and add two matzo balls. Top with fresh dill or parsley.