There are a lot of Passover dishes to get excited about. Matzo ball soup, for one, is a favorite. No matter your preference of dense or light and fluffy, those dumplings always please. Gefilte fish, too, is consumed in great quantities and, personally, I can't get enough of it. Served with spicy beet horseradish, I'm perfectly happy with eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are also the sweeter elements of the Seder: haroset (chopped up fruit and nuts) and tzimmes, baked root vegetables (such as carrots and sweet potatoes) with honey and dates. Those two are easy to love.
But no one gets excited about matzo kugel. Often bland and heavy, a savory kugel typically consists of mushrooms and onions. To my surprise, many recipes contain dairy, too. For a kosher household, like my parents', where brisket and chicken soup will be served, the use of heavy cream and butter (you know, the good things in life) are out of the question.
So, here was my challenge: to create a flavorful kugel sans dairy. Using a recipe from Cooking Light as a guide, I prepared a spinach-artichoke kugel, speckled with chopped roasted red pepper and diced parsley. It's a surprisingly light kugel, which I attribute to the extra egg whites. A little smoked paprika and cayenne pepper provide a kick that will surely make it a great addition next to roasted meats. For those vegetarians at the table, this could easily be a full-on entree, accompanied by a great big salad.
Additional recipes to serve during Passover:
Spinach-Artichoke Matzo Kugel
Source Adapted from Cooking Light, March 2014
Yields 10-12 servings
10 (6-inch) matzo crackers
2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup hot water
2 cups diced onion
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 13-oz can artichoke hearts (I used the Whole Foods brand), drained and coarsely chopped
3 roasted red peppers, from a jar, coarsely chopped
2 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1.5 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
4 large egg whites
2 large eggs
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Line a baking sheet (or multiple baking sheets) with aluminum foil. Lay matzo crackers flat on baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes, until browned slightly.
3. While the matzo is in the oven, whisk together the eggs and egg whites in a small bowl.
4. Take the matzo out and, using your hands, break into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Pour hot vegetable broth and water over the matzo and let sit for 10-15 minutes, until completely absorbed.
5. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add diced onion, season with a teaspoon of salt and cook for three minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in garlic and let cook for another minute. Add chopped artichoke, roasted red pepper, and spinach. Season with another teaspoon of salt, along with smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. Let cook for another 2-3 minutes, until the spinach has wilted. Taste for seasoning.
6. Mix the cooked vegetables with the matzo. Stir in parsley. Let sit for a minute or two and then pour the whisked egg over the matzo mixture. Stir to incorporate.
7. Transfer matzo kugel mixture to the prepared baking dish and smooth top using a spatula. Cover with aluminum foil and transfer to oven. Bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove aluminum foil and bake, uncovered, for another 18 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before cutting into squares.