When the Seder is only hours away, for some cooks the perennial worry sets in:
Will there be enough food? Will it be ready on time? Perhaps extra guests are
coming at last-minute notice. Maybe there were schedule interruptions, and
carefully laid plans to cook the food in advance weren’t
Fortunately, there’s no need to panic. There is an ingredient
that comes to our rescue – Passover’s most traditional food, matza. It’s the
basis for all sorts of fast, easy-to-prepare side dishes and even sweets. And on
the first day of the holiday, matzabased dishes are welcome.
No. 1 on my
list of quickly made side dishes is matza kugel. It’s homey and hearty and it
tastes good. You can buy Passover noodles at the store but when you make kugel
with matza, it tastes, as my mother would say, “more Pesachdik.” Besides, matza
kugel is quicker to assemble than any other kind – there are no noodles to cook
and no potatoes to grate. You just break up the matzot, moisten them slightly,
mix them with beaten eggs, add plenty of flavoring, put the kugel in the oven,
and you’ll have a satisfying side dish that will be ready when you need
Flavorings can be savory, like sauteed onions, mushrooms, spinach,
broccoli or other roasted or cooked vegetables; or they can be sweet, like
grated apples or pears or just nuts, sugar and cinnamon. Be sure to add a little
oil to the mixture and to drizzle some over the top so the kugel won’t be
If you’d like a kugel that’s different from the oldfashioned ones,
you can make a Moroccan-flavored carrot kugel, as Jayne Cohen does in Jewish
Holiday Cooking. She sprinkles the crumbled matzot with dried mint, cumin,
cinnamon, salt, pepper, cayenne and lemon juice and moistens the mixture with
carrot juice heated with garlic. Grated carrots, olive oil and eggs complete the
kugel mixture, which bakes to a savory-sweet casserole.
Cohen also makes
a chard and mushroom matza kugel flavored with onions sauteed in olive oil,
fresh and dried mushrooms, garlic, sauteed chard, thyme and dill.
substantial yet easy-to-prepare kugel that can help extend the entree, you could
add ground meat. Sharon Lebewohl and Rena Bulkin, authors of The Second Avenue
Deli Cookbook, serve a matza kugel with spicy beef. To make it, they enhance the
basic matza-and-egg kugel mixture with sauteed ground beef, onion, garlic,
tomato, dried mint, curry powder and chili powder. The recipe for this kugel is
Serving a stuffing is another way to stretch a main course, and
matza can be the basis for some of the easiest ones. You can bake matza stuffing
inside a chicken or alongside a roast. Jeffrey Nathan, author of Adventures in
Jewish Cooking, makes farfel dressing part of an elegant Passover entree,
serving it to accompany a rack of veal. First he toasts the farfel lightly in a
skillet, and then moistens it with stock. The rest of the method is like
preparing kugel, but with less egg. To the toasted farfel Nathan adds an egg and
flavorings – sauteed onion cooked briefly with diced sun-dried tomatoes, garlic
and chopped wild mushrooms.
The mixture is finished with fresh basil and
arugula and baked.
If you’re concerned that your dessert may not make
enough servings, add another quick matzabased sweet. Chocolate-covered matza is
a favorite that’s easy to make at home. A recipe for a delicious version called
“matza brickle” appears in the Hadassah Jewish Holiday Cookbook (edited by Joan
Schwartz Michel). To make it, you heat butter (or margarine) and brown sugar
until bubbling, pour it over a layer of matza on a baking sheet and bake it
briefly. Then you top the matza with chocolate chips and return it to the oven
for just a minute, to melt the chocolate. Next you spread the chocolate to a
smooth layer and sprinkle it with nuts.
Break it in pieces and keep this
treat in the freezer.
Even simpler to make are no-bake chocolate-nut
farfel cookies, which appear in the same book. To make them, melt 450 gr. (1
pound) semisweet chocolate, stir in 1⁄4 cup sugar, then 1 cup chopped toasted
walnuts and 11⁄2 cups toasted matza farfel.
All you do is drop
tablespoons of this mixture onto a foil-lined baking sheet and refrigerate the
super-easy cookies until they are firm.
If everything is going according
to your plan and you don’t need to add to your Seder menu, you’ll find that
these dishes might be just what you need for other meals during
Passover.Faye Levy is the author of
1,000 Jewish Recipes.MATZA KUGEL WITH LEEKS AND CARROTS
Make this kugel by breaking up matza or, even
to save time, use matza farfel, which comes in little pieces. This delicate
kugel is delicious with roast chicken, lamb or veal, or, for a meatless meal,
with baked fish or roasted eggplant.
1 large or 2 medium leeks, white and
light green parts
11⁄2 cups hot chicken or vegetable stock
5 cups crumbled matza
or matza farfel
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin oil Salt and freshly ground pepper Pinch of
2 large carrots, coarsely grated
2 large eggs, beaten
chopped dill Pinch of paprika (for sprinkling) Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF).
Split leeks twice lengthwise and dip them repeatedly in a large bowl of water to
rinse. Cut leeks in thin slices.
Pour stock over crumbled matza in a
large bowl. Let stand to soften while sauteing leeks.
Heat 2 tablespoons
oil in a large skillet. Add leeks, salt, pepper and cayenne and saute over
medium heat, stirring often, 5 minutes. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring
often, 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and stir in carrots. Add
vegetable mixture to bowl of farfel and let cool. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Stir in eggs and dill.
Lightly oil a 2-liter (2-quart) casserole. Spoon
stuffing into casserole. Sprinkle with remaining oil, then with paprika. Bake
for 45 minutes or until firm.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.MATZA KUGEL
WITH SPICY BEEF
This recipe is from The Second Avenue Deli
Authors Sharon Lebewohl and Rena Bulkin write that their kugel
is inspired by Indian recipes for meat samosas (turnovers). If you’re not
serving the kugel immediately, you can cover it and keep it warm in a low
2 Tbsp. olive oil, plus 1 to 2 teaspoons more if needed
finely chopped onions
1 Tbsp. finely chopped or crushed fresh garlic
450 gr. (1
pound) ground beef
4 eggs, beaten
1 large tomato, chopped into 1-cm
(1⁄2-inch) pieces (remove seeds)
1⁄2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
dried mint leaves
2 tsp. curry powder
1⁄8 teaspoon chili powder or cayenne
tsp. salt Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF).
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large
skillet and brown onions well. At the last minute, add garlic and brown quickly.
With a slotted spoon, remove onions and garlic to a large bowl and set
If pan is dry, add 1 to 2 teaspoons oil. Saute ground meat in the
pan, stirring frequently and breaking up lumps with a fork, until meat is fully
browned and in loose pieces. Remove to bowl with onions and garlic; Mix
Place matzot in a colander. Run cool water over them to
soften, and squeeze out excess liquid. Crumble the matzot and drain. Return
drained matzot to a separate large bowl.
Combine eggs with matzot and
stir thoroughly. Add meat-onion-garlic mixture, tomato, parsley, mint, curry
powder, chili powder and salt; mix well.
Place mixture in a 25-cm
(10-inch) square, lightly greased baking pan and bake for 40 minutes, until top
is lightly browned and crunchy and inside is firm.
Makes 6 servings