The Passover holiday, also known as “The Feast of the Unleavened Bread,” commemorates the Jewish exodus from Egypt and their freedom from slavery. Matzo, an unleavened type of bread, is also called “poor man’s bread.” It is traditionally eaten during Passover as a reminder to be humble, to always appreciate freedom and to never forget this chapter in Jewish history.
Matzo bread is similar to the type of bread eaten by the Hebrews during ancient times. The most common type of matzo is hard and cracker-like, although there is a soft matzo that is similar in texture to a flat bread. Modern types of matzo include onion-flavored, whole wheat, and gluten-free.
My Spinach and Matzo Pie recipe transforms matzo into a texture similar to a phyllo dough by soaking it for 15 minutes. The pie can be assembled (but not baked) 1 day ahead, covered and refrigerated. It can also be eaten hot or at room temperature, making it the perfect dish to take along when traveling to a Passover Seder.
SPINACH AND MATZOH PIE
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen, chopped spinach, thawed
3 tablespoons mild salsa
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped dill or parsley, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (16-ounce) container ricotta cheese
2 cups half-and-half milk
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon Drogheria & Alimentari Nutmeg Mill, grated nutmeg
6 ounces feta, crumbled (1 1/2 cups), divided
6 matzo boards (about 6 inches square)
Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle.
Cook onion in oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, 12 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes to soften.
Meanwhile, put spinach in a sieve and press out as much liquid as possible. Add spinach and 2 tablespoons of the salsa to the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1/3 cup dill or parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Purée the ricotta cheese in a blender with the milk, eggs, nutmeg, and the remaining 1 tablespoon of salsa, and the 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper until smooth. Reserve 2 cups of the cheese mixture in a bowl and stir remainder in with the spinach, along with 1 cup of the feta.
Stack matzos in a deep dish and pour reserved cheese mixture over them. Let stand 15 minutes to soften. Soaking allows the matzos to absorb the flavors, and the moisture helps keep the exposed matzo ends from burning.
Arrange 2 soaked matzos side by side in a generously oiled 13- by 9- by 2-inch (3-quart shallow) baking dish. Pour in half of spinach filling. Cover with 2 more matzos, then pour in remaining filling. Put remaining 2 matzos on top and pour any remaining cheese mixture over them. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup feta.
Bake, uncovered, until golden and set, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 to 15 minutes to allow dish to set up. Serve sprinkled with remaining 2 tablespoons dill or parsley. Serve hot or at room temperature.
The Kitchen Diva is Angela Shelf Medearis, a regular guest chef on “The Dr. Oz Show” and “The Today Show.” She is the author of many cookbooks, including, “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” She blogs for Vitacost.com and Momonomics.com on a weekly basis.