This week on the Calgary Eyeopener we talked about matzo — the crisp, unleavened flatbread that's a staple of Jewish cuisine and a cornerstone of Passover Seders that is simple to make from scratch.
Whether you make it yourself or buy a pre-made package, there are so many delicious things to do with matzo.
You can bash it up and scramble with eggs to make matzo brei, use it in place of the pasta layers in lasagna, or turn it into something sweet.
Matzo toffee is popular (and delicious), but you can also bash it up to stir into melted chocolate and peanut butter for an amazing sweet-salty-soft-crunchy confection that takes about five minutes to make.
LISTEN | Julie Van Rosendaal talks matzo on the Calgary Eyeopener:
When you make your own matzo, it's not as flat and uniform as store-bought, but it tastes wonderful and works beautifully even in things like lasagna.
2 cups all-purpose flour (or a combination of all-purpose and whole wheat)
½ tsp fine salt
¼ cup canola or other vegetable oil
½ cup water
Flaky salt, for sprinkling
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add the oil and water and stir until you have a soft dough. Turn it out onto the countertop and knead for a bit, until it's a bit smoother.
Cover with a tea towel and let rest for about 10 minutes (just to let the gluten relax).
When you're ready to bake, turn your oven on as high as it will go — about 500 F.
Divide the dough into four pieces. Working with one at a time, roll it into a round or oval as thin as you can get it — about 11-12-inches in diameter. Put it on a parchment-lined baking sheet, sprinkle with flaky salt and poke all over with a fork to prevent it from puffing up.
Bake for 5-7 minutes, until bubbled and golden.
Makes 4 large matzo.
Matzo veggie lasagna
You could use matzo in place of the pasta in any lasagna recipe, or wing it.
Layer any kind of sauce, matzo sheets, ricotta and grated mozzarella, ending with matzo-sauce-mozza on the top, then cover with foil and bake for an hour, uncovering for the last 15 minutes.
It's great to do it this way because you can make a lasagna of any size. Or if you prefer, here's a recipe to follow!
olive or canola oil, for cooking
1 onion, finely chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 red, yellow or orange pepper, seeded and chopped
A handful of mushrooms, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp dried oregano or Italian seasoning
salt and pepper, to taste
6-8 cups tomato sauce (home-made or jarred)
1-2 pkgs matzo (or 1-2 batches home-made)
1 cup ricotta
3 cups (ish) grated mozzarella
½ cup freshly grated parmesan or extra old gouda (such as Sylvan Star Grizzly Gouda)
In a large, heavy skillet, heat a generous drizzle of oil over medium-high heat and sauté the onion, zucchini, peppers and mushrooms for 8-10 minutes, until soft and starting to turn golden. Add the garlic and oregano and cook for another minute, then add the tomato sauce and simmer for a few minutes, or until thickened to your liking.
Preheat the oven to 350 F and spread about a cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9x13-inch or lasagna pan. Top with a layer of matzo, another cup of sauce, some of the ricotta cheese and some of the mozzarella. Repeat with matzo, breaking the pieces to fit (they don't have to be perfect). I put all the ricotta in between the first two layers, then top the last layer of matzo with sauce and mozzarella, and then the parmesan.
Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 30 minutes, until bubbly and golden.
Serves 6 to 8.
If you like, start by caramelizing a small chopped onion or shallot before adding the softened matzo to the pan (along with more butter, if needed). I like serving this with plenty of pepper and a drizzle of chili oil.
2-4 tbsp butter (a big chunk)
1 sheet commercial matzo or about ½ piece of home-made
2 large eggs
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat your butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat as you run your matzo under warm water. You just want to soften it a little, not turn it to mush. When your butter is foamy, or even beginning to brown, break your matzo in big pieces into the pan and stir to coat with butter.
Crack your eggs into a small bowl, add about half an eggshell of water and stir with a fork. Pour into the pan and move the mixture around with a spatula, sprinkling with salt and pepper, just until the egg is cooked.
Tiffin is a common name for a refrigerated confection made with chocolate and biscuits. Though often it's a mix of butter, cocoa and syrup that binds it all together, I like melting chocolate with about half as much peanut butter, then stirring in handfuls of bashed matzo.
Don't worry about quantities, as long as you have enough chocolate mixture to hold it together. You could drop it in spoonfuls on parchment to chill, or spread in a loaf (or larger) pan, cool and cut into squares.
Chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
Peanut butter (I like the creamy commercial kind vs. all-natural)
Bashed up salted matzo
Golden raisins or other dried fruit (optional)
In a saucepan or microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate with about half as much peanut butter, stirring until smooth.
Break in as much matzo as you like — I always add lots, plus a small handful of raisins for bursts of sweet chewiness.
Spread into a parchment-lined loaf pan (or any pan that will accommodate the quantity you have; I aim for it to be about an inch deep) and chill until firm, then cut into squares.