And now, for my first act of Passover cooking… Matzah Lasagna. (Make sure to say it in an Italian accent. Or a magician accent. Or both.)
I made this for dinner last night, having gotten the idea after a few minutes of searching the phrase, “Passover dinner recipes,” and seeing lasagna turn up several times. (Thank you internet.) Having made lasagna in the past, I thought, How hard could it be? You just need to remember one important substitution! (Matzah for the noodles)
For the recipe, I kind of made it up as I went along. What appears below is what I wrote up after I was done.
7 pieces of Matzah
28 oz homemade tomato sauce
1 bunch swiss chard
15 oz ricotta cheese
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1/2 teasp salt
10 oz mozzarella cheese
Here’s how to put it together:
- Make the tomato sauce. (You can also use sauce from a jar, but I usually make the sauce. Yesterday I sauteed an onion, green pepper, and carrot in olive oil, and then I added a can of crushed tomatoes and some dried basil, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. More details on sauce in a future post.)
- Prep the matzah. (The internet seems to say to soak it in water for a minute or two, and then drain the water. I soaked it for 10 minutes because I forgot about it. I can tell you that 10 minutes isn’t necessarily too long, but the result was more difficult to work with.)
- Chop the swiss chard leaves, and saute them until wilted and soft. (If you want to save a little time, you can skip the chard. Or use frozen spinach. Or also put in/not put in additional vegetables or ingredients.)
- Make the ricotta mixture by mixing the ricotta, eggs, chard, dried oregano, and salt. (Some of the recipes I saw called for cottage cheese, but I went with ricotta.)
- Add the layers to the baking pan (9″ x 13.5″) to make the lasagna:
– Spread about 1/2 cup of sauce in the pan (an initial sauce layer)
– Then add a layer of matzah followed by 1/2 of the ricotta mixture, 1/3 of the remaining sauce, and 1/3 of the mozzarella (shredded)
– Do the preceding step one more time (add matzah, ricotta, sauce, and mozzarella).
– Then to top it off, add a final matzah layer followed the rest of the sauce and mozzarella.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes (bake until the lasagna is bubbly or the mozzarella on top begins to get a little crispy).
Here’s how to do it with pictures:
Step 1: Make the sauce
Step 2: Prep the matzah
Step 3: Make the chard
Step 4: Make the ricotta mixture
Step 5: Layer the lasagana
And then, you know, continue with the rest of the layering…
It might be just me, but does anyone else have trouble following the layering steps as described in a typical lasagna recipe? If I’m following a lasagna recipe, I always find myself reading those steps multiple times. For the more visually/graphically-oriented among us, I drew a picture to help:
And now, the final product:
My first thought after taking a bite was, Hmmmmm…..Celeste Pizza! I haven’t had Celeste or other frozen pizzas in a while, but the very top layer of the lasagna (the matzah, sauce, and mozarella on top) was reminiscent of the melting-in-you-mouth, feel-good flavor and texture of a hot-out-of-the-oven highly processed, one-dollar frozen pizza.
Another thought was, This could use a little more salt. I say this perhaps more as an aside to myself because I made the tomato sauce and have a tendency to use less rather than more salt. Maybe next time (next year) I’ll put more salt in the sauce or ricotta mixture.
Final thoughts? I like the noodle version better, but this one was still good. You can tell there’s something different going on (the softer matzah gives it more of a casserole feeling), but if no one told you what it was, it wouldn’t be that remarkable (as in, something different to remark about).
Also, I’m proud of myself for posting the recipe even though I only made it once and know it’s not perfect. I can think of more to say about that topic on the life side, but for now, let’s say this particular recipe is good but also a work in progress. I’m putting it out there for all to see, use, and potentially make better and give me suggestions on. Have an idea? Let me know. And yeah, give it a try, especially if you happen have to a good-sized stock of matzah (or matzo or matzoh) left over from the 5, 10, or more lbs you may have started with this week.