Matzoh makes a many-layered meal

Growing up in Israel in the 1970s, I was exposed to only one kind of lasagna: my mother’s. It was deliciously made with a simple tomato sauce, cottage cheese (there was no ricotta) and grated “yellow” cheese, all nestled between softened layers of . . . matzoh.

Imagine my surprise the first time I encountered the authentic Italian pasta dish. (You make lasagna with that?) Matzoh lasagna remains one of my family’s favorites.

For centuries, all over the Diaspora, Jews have come up with creative ways for incorporating matzoh during the Passover holiday. Jews in the Ottoman Empire used it to make the small, savory pastry called burek.

Mina de carne and mina de espinaka are pies of matzoh shells stuffed with either meat or spinach that were prepared by Sephardi Jews to replace the many pastries they served throughout the year. There are numerous matzoh kugels, sweet and savory, from the Ashkenazi cuisine. You can even find matzoh baklava, from the cuisine of Mizrahi Jews, which replaces the phyllo dough with the so-called bread of affliction.

Speaking of affliction, the accompanying recipes will help dispatch leftovers from the season’s ubiquitous five-pack of matzoh.

Vered Guttman is a food columnist for Haaretz.com and a caterer in Washington.

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