Even though Passover is over, I wanted to post this great recipe for matzo lasagna that I made last weekend. Growing up my mother made matzo pizza, matzo kugel, and lots of other dishes using matzo meal, but matzo lasagna wasn’t something I had ever tried – until now! My sister shared this recipe with me, but I tweaked it a bit.
Vegetable Matzo Lasagna
- 2 bell peppers, diced
- 4 ounces white mushrooms, diced
- 1 15-ounce container part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 10-ounce box frozen spinach, defrosted and drained well
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 4-6 square matzo, slightly wet but not falling apart
- 1 26-ounce jar tomato sauce
- 16 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Dried basil and oregano, to taste
- Preheat oven to400oF. Spread diced peppers and mushrooms on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes, until soft. (You can also saute the vegetables if you prefer).
- Reduce oven to 350oF and line a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with tinfoil.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the ricotta and spinach. Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Coat the bottom of the pan with a layer of tomato sauce.
- Place 1 1/2 to 2 matzos in the pan and top with half of the ricotta and spinach mixture, a layer of vegetables, 1/3 of the jar of sauce, and a layer of mozzarella cheese. Season with basil and oregano.
- Repeat step 4 with another 1 1/2 to 2 matzos, the remaining ricotta and spinach mixture, the remaining vegetables, 1/3 of the tomato sauce, and mozzarella. Season with basil and oregano.
- Top the second layer with the last 1 1/2 to 2 matzos, the remaining tomato sauce, and mozzarella. Season with basil and oregano.
- Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes. Uncover and bake and additional 15 minutes. Serve hot.
Despite some apprehension (mostly from my husband) about making lasagna with matzo, this came out really great! Personally, I couldn’t even tell there was matzo in it.
Have you ever made lasagna without noodles?
Over Passover I tend to eat a lot of cottage cheese — more so than any other time of year. I like cottage cheese, but the rest of the year I don’t eat much of it because I base my breakfast and snacks around whole grain cereals, granola bars, and crackers and have nut butters, milk, string cheese, or yogurt for protein. Come Passover my routine changes because there are so many foods I cannot eat (bread, legumes, crackers, and anything else leavened). So for the past week I have been enjoying grapefruit and cottage cheese for breakfast pretty much every morning.
Cottage cheese is made in a similar way as other cheeses, by separating milk into solid curds and liquid whey. The difference between cottage cheese and other cheeses is that not all of the whey is drained, which leaves individual curds loose. There are different types of cottage cheese, including large-curd and small-curd varieties. Some people turn up their noses at cottage cheese because of the texture, in which case I recommend whipped cottage cheese, which isn’t as loose as regular cottage cheese and makes for a good spread.
Nutritionally, cottage cheese is a great choice for breakfast or a snack, especially if you choose nonfat or 1% low-fat varieties. Per half-cup serving, it’s high in satiating protein (12-16 grams) and low in fat (0-1 grams) and calories (80-90). It also contains about 10 percent of the Daily Value of calcium.
One nutrient of concern when it comes to cottage cheese is sodium. Surprisingly, cottage cheese is high in sodium, with about 350-400 mg per 1/2-cup serving. It’s important to take into account the amount of sodium you consume from hidden sources like this and be mindful of how much sodium you have the rest of the day (1500-2300 mg max). Some brands make cottage cheese with no salt added. This is a good option for people with high blood pressure. To add flavor you can add fresh fruit, honey, or herbs if you prefer a savory snack. It’s also best to limit consumption of cottage cheese with added fruit, as they tend to be higher in added sugar.
Do you like cottage cheese? If so, how do you make it a meal or snack?
*Amounts vary by brand. Check nutrition labels for accurate nutrition facts.
One of my favorite meals to make on Passover is matzo pizza. I’ve always been a fan of thin crust pizza, so I don’t find matzo pizza to be that different. I’ve also been told I make a mean matzo pizza — in fact, at my bridal shower when my husband was asked which recipe of mine is his favorite he said matzo pizza. (At the time he clearly hadn’t tasted most of my dishes!)
For many years I made matzo pizza on regular square matzo; however, a few years ago it occurred to me that if I use round shmura matzo it will be more like a regular pizza. (Shmura is hebrew for “guarded” and the matzo is hand-made and tends to be crispier than the machine-made square matzos.) The end result was fabulous and ever since that’s the way I’ve made it!
- 1/4 cup tomato sauce
- 2 pieces of shmura matzo (use whole wheat or regular matzo if you don’t have shmura)
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup chopped vegetables (peppers, mushrooms, onions)
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella and/or cheddar cheese
- Dried basil & oregano
- Preheat oven to 375oF.
- Spread tomato sauce on each of the pieces of matzo. Top with chopped vegetables and cheese. Sprinkle with herbs.
- Bake pizza for about 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and starts to bubble.
Nutrition Note: To make the meal complete, serve with a large mixed salad.
Have you ever tried matzo pizza? What toppings do you like on your pizza?
This week is Passover, one of the most celebrated Jewish holidays. If you’re not familiar, the Passover holiday celebrates the escape of the Jewish people from enslavement in Egypt. Matzo is a mainstay of the Passover holiday, and it is eaten in place of chametz, the collective name for leavened products containing wheat, barley, oats, rye, or spelt.
What is matzo and why do we eat it?
Matzo is unleavened bread, and looks like a cracker. It is made by combining flour and water and baking it before it has time to rise, which is why it turns into a flat, crunchy cracker. Matzo is eaten over the course of Passover (which lasts 8 days) because it is what the Jews ate when they escaped from Egypt. In the rush to leave, the Jews did not have time to bake bread; instead, they mixed together flour and water and quickly baked it, without waiting for it to rise. It was the only food they took on their journey to freedom.
Where does matzo stack up nutritionally?
Most people think matzo is low calorie because it’s just made with flour and water and is so light. However, a whole piece of matzo (1 whole square) contains 125 calories, 28 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 3 g protein, 0 g fat. Nutritionally it doesn’t provide too many benefits, and I can’t say it’s the most delicious food, but it can become nutritioulicious™ when you use it as a base for sandwiches or use it to make matzo pizza (my favorite)!
These days there are other varieties of matzo:
- Egg matzo is made with flour, fruit juice, and eggs and contains 130 calories, 28 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 4 g protein, 0.5 g fat per serving (1 piece)
- Whole wheat matzo is made with whole wheat flour (nutritious!) and water, and contains 100 calories, 23 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 4 g protein, 0 g fat per serving (1 piece)
Matzo is known to be a bit difficult to digest and can lead to constipation, so it’s very important to eat enough fruit and vegetables over the holiday to prevent digestive problems.
Do you eat matzo? What’s your favorite way to enjoy it?