Spinach, Feta and Artichoke Matzo Mina – Greek-Style Sephardic Matzo Casserole Recipe. Flavorful Vegetarian Passover Seder Entree. Kosher for Passover
A matzo mina is a Sephardic Jewish layered pie, somewhat like a lasagna, in which matzos are substituted for noodles. Matzo is used symbolically for the holiday, and also due to the Passover restriction on chametz (leavened grains and other ingredients that are not considered kosher for Pesach). This matzo mina is vegetarian. It was inspired by my friend Deena Prichep, who writes for NPR. Deena and I met at a conference in Portland a few years ago. She wrote this wonderful article on minas back in 2011, and I just happened to come across it recently. I’ve made many variations on the matzo mina over the years, but one of Deena’s recipes intrigued me. The spinach, feta and dill filling reminded me of spanakopita, which contains some of my favorite Mediterranean flavors.
There are several versions on the spinach-cheese matzo mina out there, but this one is undeniably Greek. Using Deena’s recipe as a base, I added sautéed artichokes and lemon zest to the filling. I also threw in some crushed red pepper flakes (you know I love my spice). In the past I’ve had trouble making matzo minas look pretty. The top layer of matzos often shrinks in the oven, making the resulting pie look somewhat unattractive. I’ve solved this by cutting the softened matzo into smaller pieces and laying it like shingles on top of the pie. The resulting matzo mina is very pretty and off-the-charts delicious. I think you’ll agree, this would make a smashing vegetarian entree or dairy side at the Passover Seder meal. It would also make a terrific meal for Meatless Monday during the week of Passover (or anytime of the year, really– it’s that good). Thank you for the inspiration, Deena!
For more Passover recipe ideas, check out the Pinterest boards below:
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- 6 sheets matzo more or less
- 2 cups frozen or canned artichoke hearts plain, unmarinated
- 2 cups lowfat cottage cheese
- 8 oz crumbled feta cheese (goat or sheep milk feta is best) - more or less, see note below
- 5 oz fresh spinach roughly chopped
- 3 large eggs divded
- 2 scallions chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh dill chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- Salt to taste (as needed)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 9x9 square baking dish. If the artichoke hearts are whole, halve them. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium/high heat. Sauté the artichokes hearts until browned, then remove from heat and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine cottage cheese, spinach, scallions, dill, lemon zest, and crushed red pepper. Crumble feta cheese in slowly, a handful at a time, tasting as you go-- the filling should be creamy and tasty with a hint of salt and tang. Fetas vary in saltiness level, I sometimes use the whole amount listed in the ingredients-- other times, I only add half. You don't want to add too much and risk an over-salty dish. If you add all the feta and it's not salty enough, add more salt to taste. Once filling has a good flavor balance, beat two of the eggs and stir those in as well. Mix until well combined.
- Soften your matzo by placing each sheet in a dish of water until it just begins to soften, but does not become mushy.
- Place the softened matzo on a dish towel for 5 minutes, then check to make sure that it is slightly bendable. If not, you may need to soak it a little longer.
- Place a sheet of matzo into the bottom of your prepared baking dish. Fill in any gaps around the edges with smaller pieces of matzo. You can break the smaller pieces of matzo, or use a knife to slice them more evenly.
- Top the matzo with half of the cheese filling and half of the sautéed artichoke hearts.
- Repeat with another layer of matzo, the remaining cheese filling and the remaining artichoke hearts. For the top layer, to make a prettier presentation I cut the matzo into smaller squares and overlap them slightly in a shingle pattern. You can always go the simpler route by using a single sheet of matzo and filling in the gaps with smaller pieces, but keep in mind that it does shrink up a bit while baking and you may be left with a few small gaps that aren't covered by matzo after baking.
- Brush the top of the matzo with remaining beaten egg. Be sure that it doesn't pool heavily in any areas.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until the top layer is golden brown. Serve warm.
Other Great Recipe Ideas
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Cook Kosher: Matzah Quesadillas with Tomato Jam