Passover is a holiday that revolves around food. That may help explain why it is celebrated by more Jews than any other holiday.
The eight-day religious observance begins with the Seder dinner, during which symbolic foods are discussed and eaten. Matzo, or unleavened bread, takes center stage. It serves as a reminder of the haste with which the Jews fled enslavement, not even waiting to let their breads rise. In remembrance, Jewish law dating back to ancient times mandates that no grain or leavened product be eaten for the duration of the holiday—just matzo.
Imagine the generations of Jewish cooks who have devised ways to use matzo. Some of these dishes become the stuff of family legends: what Jewish son or daughter can’t wax poetic about their mother’s or grandmother’s or great aunt’s ethereal matzo ball soup?
Matzo kugel, a baked casserole using broken or crushed matzo in place of noodles, is another favorite. It is usually served as a side dish, and can be sweet (with dried or fresh fruit, sugar and fruit juice) or savory (with broth and vegetables). In either case, the farfel, or broken matzo, is bound with eggs and baked.
While most Seder tables wouldn’t be complete without a farfel kugel, there’s no reason to relegate this perennial pleaser to a once-a-year treat. Serve this kugel in place of stuffing with turkey or as an any-time accompaniment for roasts. It’s a great do-ahead dish and hearty enough for a main course for vegetarian guests.
Mushroom, Artichoke and Onion Matzo Kugel
If you don’t have farfel on hand, simply break matzos into 1/2-inch pieces. While brands vary, a typical matzo makes about 1 cup of farfel. The kugel can be made a day in advance and baked for only 30 minutes.
10 large eggs
2 (15-ounce) cans reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, divided
1 (16-ounce) box matzo farfel (about 6 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced onion
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
4 (6-ounce) jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Coat a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs with 1 1/2 cans broth. Stir in farfel and let stand.
3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add onions, rosemary, thyme and salt; cook, stirring frequently, about 6 minutes or until the onions are soft and lightly golden. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes or until they are softened. Remove from heat and stir in artichokes.
4. Stir the vegetables into farfel mixture and transfer to the prepared baking dish.
Bake 30 minutes; cover with foil and bake another 10 minutes. If it seems too dry, make several slits into the kugel with a butter knife and drizzle with extra broth. (The slits help the liquid permeate the inside of the kugel). Serves 16.
Per serving: 350 calories, 9g fat, 10g prot., 57g carbs., 3g fiber, 380mg sodium.
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Photo credit: Mark Boughton Photography / styling by Teresa Blackburn