Passover Spinach and Cheese Lasagna
A year-round favorite reimagined for Passover.
Lasagna for Passover? You bet. After days of preparing two (probably meat-based) seders, this dairy dish will be a welcome change--especially on a holiday where pasta is strictly forbidden. Matzah makes a suitable replacement for lasagna noodles, and the moisture released by the marinara sauce and the cheese softens the stiff, unleavened boards, resulting in a tender lasagna with layers just as delicious as one made with conventional, wheat-based noodles.
I decided to keep this recipe simple, using frozen spinach and store-bought marinara sauce. If the inspiration strikes you, by all means make your own sauce. One cup of sautéed mushrooms would also be a welcome addition, but the goal here was to liberate cooks from hours in the kitchen. Since ricotta cheese is difficult to find with kosher-for-Passover certification, cottage cheese is substituted. If you'd like a more ricotta-like consistency, whir the cottage cheese in the blender or food processor for a few seconds before combining with the other ingredients.
Note: This recipe constitutes gebrochts, the Yiddish word for "broken" which refers to matzah products that have come into contact with liquid. Some Ashkenazic Jews do not eat gebrochts on Passover, believing that liquid causes the matzah to rise, rendering it unfit for Passover consumption.
One 1 lb package frozen spinach, completely defrosted
3 cups (1 1/2 lbs) small-curd cottage cheese
3 cups (3/4 lb) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 jars (about 6 1/2-7 cups) marinara sauce
8 or 9 whole boards matzah (regular or whole-wheat)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine cottage cheese, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, parsley, salt, and pepper in a bowl and stir to incorporate. Reserve. Using your hands, squeeze excess moisture from spinach and separate spinach until it is no longer clumped (you should end up with about 3 1/2-4 cups spinach). Reserve.
Spoon 3/4 cup marinara sauce into the bottom of a disposable, high-sided lasagna pan. Fit matzah to cover as much of the bottom of the pan as possible, breaking into pieces where necessary. Pour 1 1/2 cups sauce on top of matzah and distribute evenly. Spoon about 1 cup of the cheese mixture onto the matzah and distribute evenly. Sprinkle about 1 1/4 cups of the spinach on top of the cheese, then sprinkle 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese. Repeat matzah-sauce-cheese-spinach-parmesan process two more times, then cover with a fourth layer of matzah. Pour remaining 1 1/2 cups sauce on top of matzah.
Let lasagna rest for 15 minutes before baking to allow matzah to moisten slightly. Cover lasagna with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups mozzarella on top of lasagna. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and bake lasagna an additional 30 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and browned around the edges. Remove from oven, let rest for 5 minutes, and serve hot.