Passover, which commemorates the Israelites’ transition from slavery to freedom, is a joyful Jewish holiday celebrated with a symbolic feast known as a seder. This year, Passover began on Wednesday, April 5 and ends on Thursday, April 13. The first and second nights are traditionally when the seder is celebrated, and loved ones gather to eat hearty foods like matzo ball soup and brisket and drink wine. But if you’ve just had a seder, you probably have a lot of leftover matzo you’re not sure what to do with. You can make a traditional matzo delicacy, like matzo brei — but if you want want to get a little more creative this year, try one of these three unique matzo recipes. This bread is an ideal blank slate that can be dressed up in countless ways!
What is matzo, anyway?
While there’s no shortage of food on the seder table, there’s one thing noticeably missing: fluffy, chewy bread. During Passover, only unleavened bread (meaning bread prepared without yeast or other rising agents) is eaten. This form of bread, which looks like an oversized cracker with the taste and texture to match, is known as matzo — and it represents the unleavened bread the Jews ate as they fled Egypt.
During the seder, matzo is called “the bread of affliction,” but while it’s a deeply symbolic food that represents the resilience of the Jewish people and the struggles they endured, it’s definitely better than the “affliction” label might suggest. Because matzo is fairly neutral in flavor, it’s surprisingly versatile… which makes it perfect for our purposes.
Matzo Macaroni and Cheese
If you’re observing the dietary rules of Passover, you can’t eat regular pasta. Going a week without pasta might sound difficult, but matzo recipes can actually help if you’re craving the carb-y dish. Take this macaroni and cheese, from the Jewish food site The Nosher. It may not look like your typical mac and cheese — but here, eggs, milk, sour cream, and cheese are baked into a casserole-like concoction that mimics the cheesy, filling delight. The recipe author claims it’s so good, that even though it’s technically Passover food, she’s eaten it year-round.
Ingredients (Serves 8 to 10):
- 2 cups milk
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper, or to taste
- 8 squares matzo, or as needed
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 ½ to 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 ½ to 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 9 by 13-inch baking dish, ideally ceramic or pyrex.
- In large shallow dish, whisk together milk, eggs, salt, and pepper. Use dish that is large enough to place whole squares of matzo into.
- Dip squares of matzo into egg and milk mixture before placing them in an even layer on bottom of baking dish. Use about ¼ cup of sour cream and spread evenly onto bottom layer of matzo. Top matzo with a heaping ⅓ cup of shredded cheddar cheese, and a heaping ⅓ cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.
- Repeat the process two more times with layers of dipped matzo squares, sour cream, and cheeses.
- Add one last layer of matzo for total of 4 layers. Top matzo with remaining sour cream and a generous ½ cup of each kind of cheese. Pour remaining egg and milk mixture over layers of matzo and cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes.
- Uncover dish and bake for 5 minutes uncovered, until bubbly and cheesy. Almost all of the liquid should be absorbed into matzo at this point. If you like your matzo mac and cheese browned on top, turn oven to broil, and broil for 1 to 2 minutes (watch carefully, the top will brown fast). Let dish rest for 5-10 minutes and then serve.
Nachos are one of those dishes that combine a variety of flavors and textures to get bite-sized perfection. Because matzo is flat and crunchy, it can stand in for the tortilla chips that are typically used in this Mexican staple. Matzo nachos are easy and adaptable — you can run wild with the toppings (just make sure you keep it kosher, if you’re observant of those rules). This Matzo Nachos recipe from chef Jamie Geller was originally shared on The Today Show. The mix of homemade salsa, cheese, avocado, and more toppings is just the thing to liven up your leftover matzo.
Ingredients (Serves 2):
- 4 sheets matzo
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon crushed chili flakes, or more to taste
- Kosher salt
- ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese, or more to taste
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and sliced
- ½ lemon, juiced
- Kosher salt
- 1 avocado, mashed
- Sour cream, to taste
- Fresh cilantro leaves, torn
- Lime wedges
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Soak matzo in water until slightly softened, about 30 to 60 seconds. Remove matzo from water, slice into triangles and lay on baking sheet.
- Put olive oil on matzo and season matzo with salt and chili flakes to taste. Sprinkle matzo with cheese and bake in oven for 7 to 10 minutes or until matzo is golden brown and cheese is bubbling.
- While matzo is in oven assemble salsa: toss tomatoes, jalapeno, and lemon juice together in small bowl and season to taste with salt.
- Remove nachos from oven and top with salsa, avocado, sour cream, and cilantro and serve with lime wedges.
If you’re in the mood for Italian comfort food but bemoan the fact that you can’t eat pasta, New York Times cooking pro Melissa Clark has got you covered. Her recipe for Matzo Lasagna has some tradition behind it; it’s inspired by a classic “Passover pie” known as a mina, and like a mina, this lasagna is composed of matzo that’s layered with savory toppings (tomato sauce and cheese, in this case) and baked. The recipe calls for a whole box of matzo, so if you have a lot left over, this is the perfect way to use it up. The matzo makes an unexpectedly tasty substitute for lasagna sheets.
Ingredients (Serves 8):
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 4 anchovies, finely chopped (optional)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
- 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
- 1 rosemary sprig
- 2 ¾ cups (24 ounces) whole-milk ricotta, preferably fresh
- 1 large egg
- ¼ cup basil leaves, chopped, plus more for serving
- ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 (10-ounce) box matzo, preferably egg or salted matzo
- 1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced, then torn into bite-size pieces
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
- Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In large pot over medium, heat oil, and stir in garlic, anchovies (if using), pepper, and red-pepper flakes. Cook until garlic starts to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Use your hands to squeeze and crush whole tomatoes as you add them to pot, along with any liquid in cans (or use kitchen shears to cut the tomatoes in the can). Stir in ½ teaspoon salt and rosemary sprig, bring to gentle simmer, and simmer at medium-low heat for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in medium bowl, stir together ricotta, egg, basil, pepper, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and nutmeg.
- To assemble lasagna, spread generous ½ cup sauce on bottom of 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Place matzo crackers in an even layer on top, breaking crackers to fit as necessary.
- Spread half the ricotta mixture over matzo layer, spreading all the way to edges. Top with generous ¾ cup tomato sauce, then scatter with ⅓ of mozzarella.
- Repeat matzo, ricotta, tomato sauce, and mozzarella layers.
- Top with final layer of matzo, then spread remaining tomato sauce (about 2 cups) on top, making sure all of matzo is covered. Top with remaining mozzarella and ½ cup Parmesan.
- Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until cheese is golden and sauce is bubbly, about 20 to 25 minutes longer. Remove from oven and let cool 5 to 10 minutes, then serve topped with more basil, a drizzle of olive oil, and more red-pepper flakes, if you like.
Make the Most of Your Matzo
These are just a few of the many creative ways you can use up your leftover matzo. These matzo recipes don’t just taste good — they also serve as a powerful way to honor the holiday, while simultaneously bringing in a touch of modernity and playfulness. No matter how you celebrate or which matzo recipes you choose to make, we wish you a very happy Passover!
This article originally appeared on our sister site, First for Women.
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