This week, we are focusing on Seder entrées. I have many vegetarian friends, so I thought I’d offer a veggie option—the matzo mina. A matzo mina is a Sephardic layered pie, somewhat like lasagna, in which matzos are substituted for noodles. Some are made with ground meat, some with eggplant. Today’s recipe is a vegetarian dairy matzo mina with spinach and potatoes.
Usually matzo minas are topped with a final layer of matzo. Since I happen to adore mashed potatoes, my recipe has an additional layer of mashed potatoes on top, shepherd’s pie style. You’ll also notice I use an ingredient called chicken powder. For those of you who aren’t familiar with chicken powder, it’s a common ingredient in American Jewish cooking. Despite the name, it’s a completely vegetarian product. I often use chicken powder when preparing vegetarian dishes; it adds saltiness and extra yum factor. It can be found in the kosher section of the grocery store, or in most Middle Eastern markets. My favorite brand is Osem MSG-free Chicken Style Consommé. If chicken powder isn’t available, you can dissolve a vegetable bouillon cube in 2 cups of water and substitute that instead.
Note: If you are keeping strictly kosher for Passover, omit the Old Bay seasoning and use a chicken powder that is kosher for Passover.
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SPINACH MATZO MINA
4 medium russet potatoes
1 tablespoon butter or buttery spread
¼ cup milk
2 cups warm water
2 tsp chicken consomme powder (vegetarian product)
1 lb. package frozen chopped spinach
1 15 oz. package lowfat ricotta cheese
½ tsp Old Bay seasoning
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Kosher Key: Dairy, Kosher for Passover with modifications (omit the Old Bay seasoning and use kosher for Passover chicken powder)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Peel potatoes, slice into large pieces and boil until tender. Drain, return to pot, mash with butter and milk until very smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
In an 8×8 glass or metal baking dish, dissolve chicken powder in 2 cups warm water. Soak each matzo for 20-30 seconds until pliable (not mushy). Set matzos aside.
Pour chicken powder water into a pot and add package of chopped spinach. Cook spinach in the chicken powder water for 10 minutes over medium heat. Drain the spinach in a colander, squeeze out all the excess liquid. Return spinach to pot. Add ricotta cheese, Old Bay seasoning, and pepper to taste. Mix well with a fork.
Rinse and dry baking dish. Break each soaked matzo into three long pieces, like lasagna noodles. Place one matzo (three pieces) in a layer on the bottom of the dish. Add a layer of mashed potatoes, then a layer of spinach and ricotta mixture, then sprinkle some cheese. Place another layer of matzo pieces, then repeat until dish is full. Top off with a layer of mashed potatoes and shredded cheese.
Bake matzo mina uncovered for 30 minutes, or until the top layer is melted and edges are starting to brown. Cut into squares the same way you would lasagna and serve.