Spinach-Matzo Lasagna

Read the interview with Leah.

Over the last decade, matzo lasagna has quickly and emphatically entered the Passover mainstream. Its rise has partly to do with the need it fills for a substantive main dish to serve during the holiday’s weeklong bread ban. The other reason for its popularity? It’s delicious, and remarkably so.

Softened matzo provides a convincingly noodle-like base for the rich ricotta and mozzarella, tangy marinara, and tender spinach threaded throughout the layers. I like to imagine that, fifty years from now, my future children and grandchildren will swear that Passover is not Passover without spinach-matzo lasagna.

Serves 8-10

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 ounces/140 grams baby spinach
4 cups/910 grams full-fat or low-fat ricotta cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups/200 grams grated mozzarella
¼ cup/10 grams roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
9 sheets matzo
4 cups/960 mililiters good-quality marinara
¼ cup/20 grams grated parmesan

1) Preheat the oven to 350° F.

2) Heat the olive oil in a medium pan set over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and spinach and cook, tossing with tongs, until the garlic is fragrant and the spinach wilts, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3) In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta, eggs, ½ cup of the mozzarella and the parsley. Season generously with salt and pepper and set aside.

4) Fill a shallow baking dish with water. Dip 3 sheets of the matzo in the water and let soften for 1 to 2 minutes. (Not longer—you want the pieces to feel soft, but not mushy or soggy. They should still hold their shape.) Spoon half of the marinara into the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Shake the excess water off of the softened matzo pieces and arrange in the baking dish, breaking the sheets as necessary to fit. Top with about half of the ricotta mixture, followed by half of the spinach mixture. Repeat with half of the remaining marinara, another 3 softened sheets of matzo, and the remaining ricotta and spinach mixtures.

5) Soften the remaining 3 sheets of matzo and arrange on top. Spoon the remaining marinara over the top, then sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1 ½ cups mozzarella and the Parmesan.

6) Cover with aluminum foil and bake until heated through, about 45 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the cheese is lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let stand for a few minutes. Serve hot.

Recipes reprinted with permission from “Modern Jewish Cooking: Recipes & Customs for Today’s Kitchen,” Chronicle Books (2015), by Leah Koenig.

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