Roasted Broccoli Florets with Lemon Garlic Matzo Crumbs: Kicking off Passover Prep with a bang!

Roasted Broccoli Florets with Lemon Garlic Matzo Crumbs, featuring Yehuda Matzo
Roasted Broccoli Florets with Lemon Garlic Matzo Crumbs, featuring Yehuda Matzo

Shortly after I announced my pregnancy, my friends and family who became mommies
before me welcomed me into their club by sharing all their tips, tricks, and anecdotes of
pregnancy, labor, and early motherhood. Just when I thought I understood the basics of
baby care, a friend of mine threw me a curveball. “Remember to sign up for PJ Library!,”
she said. PJ Library? How is it that as a lifelong bookworm, I had never heard of such a
thing? “PJ Library,” she said, “is a program that sends free Jewish bedtime stories and
music directly to your child every month.” This sounded too good to be true. She
explained to me that all I had to do was sign up, and my baby would get to look forward
to a monthly contribution to his Jewish library. Naturally, I was very excited about our
son receiving free books, as I am of the school of thought that a child can never have too
many books, and when I learned that I had to wait until after my child was born to
register him for the program, I put a reminder in my calendar to sign up a week after his
due date, just in case he decided to stay a while. Shortly thereafter, I shared the word
about this program to everyone I knew, and I had definitely drank the proverbial Kool-
aid, because I didn’t want any of my friends to miss out on the opportunity for free
books. PJ Library had quickly become one of my favorite topics of conversation, and
earned a special place in my heart.

Yehuda Matzo and PJ Library make a perfect pair.
Yehuda Matzo and PJ Library make a perfect pair.

Imagine my delight when I heard that my new favorite program was partnering with my preferred matzo brand, Yehuda Matzos. I’ve never been more excited to get cracking on
my Passover recipes! Every year around this time, I am bombarded with requests for new
and exciting recipes that are kosher for Passover. The truth is, I believe that you don’t
actually have to try all that hard to keep Passover, and I jokingly call Passover meal-
planning G-d’s low-carb diet. There are plenty of foods and recipes out there that require
no leavening (hello, flourless chocolate cake), and I usually limit my matzo consumption
to the seder table. This year, however, in honor of the great pairing, my meal plan for
these 8 days will most certainly be matzo-centric, and highlight some of the ways my
family indulges in this little Jewish cracker.
First up, I’ll be enjoying my Roasted Broccoli Florets with Lemon Garlic Matzo Crumbs.
If easy is what you’re looking for, then this is the recipe for you. I understand that
broccoli may not be a favorite for many, but I argue that’s because you’ve probably never
roasted it before. There’s something magical that happens when deep green broccoli
meets a hot oven and emerges with a gentle char, and I so stand by this recipe, as I’ve
converted plenty of cruciferous haters with it. Plus, the combination of sweet and pungent
roasted garlic married with vibrant and refreshingly tart lemon zest perfumes the matzo
crumbs in such a way that it won’t take long for this dish to become a heavily-requested
staple on any Passover table.

Click here to see this on the PJ Library blog.

Roasted Broccoli Florets with Lemon Garlic Matzo Crumbs
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: Jewish
Serves: 4-6
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
  • 1 lb. broccoli crown, cut into florets
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, separated
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 sheets of Yehuda matzo, or 1 cup matzo farfel
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 large lemon, zest reserved
  • 1 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice (from that lemon you just zested)
  • 1 Tbs. Italian parsley, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Drizzle 1 Tbs. of olive oil over the broccoli florets and sprinkle with salt and pepper to
  3. taste. Toss to coat, and lay flat and in a single layer on a baking dish or cast-iron skillet.
  4. Roast in oven for 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, place the matzo sheets in a plastic bag, seal the bag with as little air in it as
  6. possible, and use a rolling pin to crush the sheets into small pieces. (*Note: this is a fun
  7. step for kids to help.)
  8. Once the matzo is crushed into crumbs, drizzle with 1 Tbs. olive oil, add the garlic,
  9. lemon zest, and Italian parsley. Reseal the bag, and shake to combine mixture.
  10. Remove the broccoli from the oven, drizzle with lemon juice, and sprinkle the matzo
  11. crumb mixture on top.
  12. Return to the oven for 15 minutes, or until matzo crumbs are golden brown and broccoli
  13. is tender.
  14. Serve immediately.

*Note: I am working in conjunction with PJ Library on several recipes featuring Yehuda Matzos. Although I am being compensated for my recipes, my opinions expressed regarding Yehuda Matzo are honest and entirely my own.

Mis Abuelos and the No Dilemma December: Frituras de Malanga (Malanga Fritters)

Malanga Fritters.TheCubanReuben.comMost of the Jewish kids I knew growing up partook in a handful of familiar traditions during the holiday season. They would light their menorahs, eat latkes and jelly doughnuts, and squeal in delight at the gelt they’d win from a few festive rounds of dreidel before bedtime. In my house, the traditions were very similar, except we sometimes swapped Cuban-style malanga fritters for potato pancakes. Despite the fact that my extended family represents many different religions, my parents made it clear from the start that in our Jewish home, we celebrate Hanukkah.

Conversely, my abuelos, or grandparents, native Cubans and devout Catholics, hosted an annual Christmas party, and as it was the one time in the year where every single member of my large extended family would be in attendance, my parents felt strongly that we accept the invitation, as well. These parties boasted beautiful decorations ornamenting the entire house, piles of colorful gifts for the grandkids under the tree, and echoes of laughter and warmth from family members reuniting. Of course, these elements were certainly a big draw, but the main event was always the food. Oh, the food! My abuela, the original culinary matriarch of the family, made sure nobody left hungry, and always had enough food for everyone to take home leftovers of the scrumptious Cuban feast she’d make. Her Christmas parties offered the all-star dishes from her culinary arsenal: succulent roasts, creamy black beans spooned over white rice, a variety of seasonal vegetables, and just like our Hanukkah dinners, Abuela’s Christmas parties would not be complete without malanga fritters.

As featured on Jewish&, a collaboration between Be’Chol Lashon and

My Hanukkah malanga fritters, sitting in front of the "famous" family cookbook my mother gifted me.
My Hanukkah malanga fritters, sitting in front of the “famous” family cookbook my mother gifted me.

As dinner ended, my abuela found immense joy in passing out the Christmas gifts, and she went to great lengths to make sure that her Jewish grandchildren were not overlooked. She always had a little something for my brother and me under her tree, and unlike the gifts for my cousins, ours were always wrapped in Hanukkah paper. This small gesture not only made my brother and me feel extra special, but it was an expression of the support she showed my mother about her decision to convert to Judaism.

Through the years, I’ve attended countless family Christmas parties, baptisms, first communions, and so on, just as my family has shown their support at my traditionally Jewish life-cycle events. I’ve always loved learning about my family’s different religions, and fondly remember many a time when I stayed up late with my cousins, explaining the significance of some of the Jewish traditions I practiced. I took great pride in being the authority on all things Jewish, and made sure my explanations were always as authentic as possible. As an adult, I have a deep-rooted fascination with the world’s major religions, mentally noting the similarities and differences between them and my native Judaism every chance I get. This fascination, coupled with my early exposure to other religions, has only helped to foster my strong identity as a Jew.

I recognize that I am incredibly lucky to have been born into such a supportive and engaged, albeit religiously diverse, family. This spring, as my husband and I welcome the newest member of the tribe to our family, I hope to teach our child not only of our Jewish traditions, but to encourage respect and admiration for others’ traditions, as well.

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Frituras de Malanga (Malanga Fritters)
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Cuban
Serves: 35 fritters
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Take an international bite this Hanukkah with Cuban-style malanga fritters.
  • 1 lb. malanga, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • ½ lb. yuca, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp chopped Italian parsley
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups vegetable oil (for frying)
  1. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  2. In a food processor, grind together the malanga, yuca, and garlic. Transfer to a medium bowl.
  3. Add lemon juice, baking powder, eggs, parsley, salt and pepper to the mixture, and stir until well combined.
  4. Test the oil with a tiny drop of the mixture. If oil bubbles, it is ready to fry.
  5. Using two kitchen spoons, drop one spoonful of the mixture into the hot oil, and fry for two minutes or until the bottom side starts to brown. Turn the fritter over, and continue to fry until golden brown throughout.
  6. Taste fritter to determine if it has enough salt and pepper for your liking. Adjust batter accordingly, and continue frying. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan.
  7. Remove the cooked fritters from the oil, and drain on a platter lined with paper towel.
  8. Serve immediately.