Spinach and Artichoke Matzo Kugel // A Thought For Food

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.

Spinach and Artichoke Matzo Kugel // A Thought For FoodMatzo Kugel-8804Matzo Kugel-8871
Spinach and Artichoke Matzo Kugel // A Thought For FoodSpinach and Artichoke Matzo Kugel // A Thought For Food
Additional recipes to serve during Passover:
Spinach and Artichoke Matzo Kugel // A Thought For Food

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  • March 23, 2015 - 9:56 am

    Deborah - I have actually never had kugel – but this definitely sounds like a great recipe to start with!ReplyCancel

  • March 23, 2015 - 10:42 am

    danielle - Pinning this one – this sounds like a perfect passover dish.ReplyCancel

  • March 23, 2015 - 1:42 pm

    Tieghan - Oh wow, this is so creative and sounds delicious! Can you believe I have never had matzo or kugel? I need to change that!ReplyCancel

  • March 23, 2015 - 3:57 pm

    Alison Lewis - GREAT ideaReplyCancel

  • March 23, 2015 - 9:26 pm

    Valerie - This looks amazing for any holiday! I just may be making your kugel for Easter :)ReplyCancel

  • March 24, 2015 - 7:30 am

    Joanne - I don’t know that I’ve ever found matzo particularly exciting, but you’ve done it with this kugel! Mostly it’s the colors of all your mix-ins…so much more appealing than the beige-brown mass that I’ve typically seen!ReplyCancel

  • March 25, 2015 - 9:28 am

    Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles - I’ve never had anything like this – it looks wonderful, Brian!ReplyCancel

  • March 26, 2015 - 7:16 am

    Jeanette | Jeanette's Healthy Living - What a brilliant kugel – love all the veggies tucked in and the kick from the smoked paprika and cayenne.ReplyCancel

  • March 26, 2015 - 1:19 pm

    Lily Lau - Spinach and artichoke, couldn’t be healthier! :)ReplyCancel

  • March 28, 2015 - 2:36 pm

    Alison - Can this recipe be made ahead and frozen?ReplyCancel

  • April 2, 2015 - 5:33 pm

    Diane Eilene Cohen - Can’t wait to try this!ReplyCancel

Cucumber, Avocado and Kumquat Salad // A Thought For Food

Last Wednesday was a glorious day. The temperature reached close to 60 degrees, allowing for the enormous piles of snow to start melting. I took Maki for a longer walk than we’ve been doing these last few months. I spent most of the walk looking up at the sky and just breathing in the warm air. My spirits were immediately lifted. The world felt brighter, full of so many possibilities. And the normal stresses of the day didn’t seem to bother me as much.

Of course, as I write this, we’re clearing out more snow. Boston has officially broken its record for the most snowfall. Clap. Clap. Clap. Ok, now are we done with this winter weather? It’s time to move on to spring.

The fact that I was craving salad at all was a sign that warmer days are approaching; days when we won’t resort to bowls of soup and stew for our weeknight meal but, rather, something refreshing and healthy. A couple weeks back, I chowed down on a Burmese avocado salad at a local Chinatown restaurant. It was creamy but light and totally satisfying. I took inspiration from those characteristics as I developed this recipe, which is at once sweet, spicy, and savory. I went back and forth as to whether I should pickle the kumquats and, in the end, decided it wasn’t necessary. Those thin slices bring the dish to life, the citrus notes cutting through the bite of the watercress.

This salad hits all the right notes. As I sat in our dining room on that beautiful day, the plate before me and a fork in my hand, the dog sunbathing outside on our porch, I was just totally happy. I look forward to more days like that; ideally with the windows open, allowing a breeze scented with blooming trees to pass through the house. That will be nice. Soon. Soon.

Cucumber, Avocado and Kumquat Salad // A Thought For FoodCucumber, Avocado and Kumquat Salad // A Thought For FoodCucumber, Avocado and Kumquat Salad // A Thought For FoodCucumber, Avocado and Kumquat Salad // A Thought For FoodView full post »

  • March 16, 2015 - 9:22 am

    Tieghan - 60 sounds so nice, but yeah, I feel ya on the snow. We are getting more too. UGH. Love this fresh salad. Perfect to lift the sprits!ReplyCancel

  • March 16, 2015 - 9:31 am

    Nutmeg Nanny - I’m going crazy over this cold weather. All I want is salad, open windows and lighter food. I love the addition of delicious kumquats and refreshing cucumbers in this salad.ReplyCancel

  • March 16, 2015 - 10:18 am

    Holly N @ Spend With Pennies - Gorgeous! I love this salad… and I love kumquats but I never know what to do with them! Pinned for later!!ReplyCancel

  • March 16, 2015 - 11:02 am

    Austin - I’m with you on this! I have been making a ton of salad the past two weeks because i’m just, well…R E A D Y for spring. Cucumbers and avocados with black sesame seeds looks great!ReplyCancel

  • March 16, 2015 - 1:05 pm

    Deborah - I don’t think I’ve ever had a kumquat, but I’m clearly missing out because this is beautiful!!ReplyCancel

  • March 16, 2015 - 1:56 pm

    Amy @ A Healthy Life For Me - Gorgeous salad, perfect to jump start spring eating. I think this will make a great addition to my easter menu!ReplyCancel

  • March 16, 2015 - 10:54 pm

    Melanie @ Pickles + Palmtrees - Beautiful salad! I’ve been on a kumquat kick lately. I’ve been eating them plain. Avocado would be the perfect compliment to the tart and sweet fruit. Love your site!



  • March 17, 2015 - 2:26 pm

    Eileen - That has to be one of the prettiest salads ever. Love the dark sesame seeds against all that green.ReplyCancel

  • March 18, 2015 - 10:12 am

    Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles - All. That. Snow. !!!! What a great salad to celebrate the broken record. And then to move on!! :)ReplyCancel

  • March 18, 2015 - 9:50 pm

    Sylvie | Gourmande in the Kitchen - Here’s to more warmth and sunshine very soon!ReplyCancel

  • March 19, 2015 - 7:17 am

    Joanne - No offense, but I have never been so grateful to not live in Boston! At least it seems like the warm weather is settling in…and if that means more fresh and tasty salads like that, then I am more than happy to say goodbye to winter!ReplyCancel

  • March 19, 2015 - 10:33 am

    Elizabeth - Those warm days were glorious, weren’t they? And when the weather fails, it’s good know you can have some springtime in the plate. Here’s to a vibrant, snow-free spring and lovely, beautiful salads for days.ReplyCancel

  • March 22, 2015 - 8:06 pm

    The Sunday Dish - […] out this Cucumber, Avocado and Kumquat Salad by Brian.  Looks so fresh and tasty!  Yesterday, I made a quick salad with mixed greens, roasted […]ReplyCancel

  • March 23, 2015 - 9:07 pm

    cristina - Brian – luv the combination of ingredients and flavors you’ve used in this salad, it’s fresh! Your presentation is beautiful. :)ReplyCancel

  • March 24, 2015 - 1:51 pm

    Liren - I can sense you just willing spring to hurry up – this salad is sure to do the trick. I feel for all the winter you have had to endure!! That beautiful day must have felt just as good to Maki, too. This salad is beautiful, and I especially love the kumquats – what a bright and tangy surprise!ReplyCancel

  • March 31, 2015 - 1:34 pm

    Marly - This recipe makes me want to run to the store, buy some kumquats, prepare this salad, and sit on the patio and eat it. That would make for a perfect day! :)ReplyCancel

Sweet Vermouth Cobbler // A Thought For Food

Cocktails aren’t traditionally served at a Passover Seder. Often, there is wine. But because any grain or corn-based spirits are kitniyot (the hebrew word for the category of foods that are not allowed to be consumed during Passover), mixed drinks aren’t typically served.  In looking ahead to the holiday, I thought a libation using fortified wines, such as sherry and vermouth, would be nice for those wanting to mix up a little after-work drink.

I sipped my first cobbler just a few weeks ago at one of our favorite bars and haven’t stopped thinking about it since. The idea is simple: muddled citrus (typically orange), some sugar, liquor and garnished with seasonal fruit (citrus and berries) and mint. Sherry and vermouth are often a bit thicker in consistency and so a bit of soda water will help cut it.

After describing this drink to my mom, she pointed out that sometimes people include orange on their Seder plates. I had never heard of this before. Why orange? What symbolism does that have?

Here’s what I learned from a quick search online: In the 1980s, Dr. Susannah Heschel, a Jewish feminist scholar, was visiting Oberlin College. It was there that she witnessed students adding bread crust to their Seder plates as a way of showing their support of feminists and gays and lesbians, who they felt were excluded from Judaism. Heschel suggested that because bread is kitniyot, that they replace it with an orange slice (“I chose an orange because it suggests the fruitfulness for all Jews when lesbians and gay men are contributing and active members of Jewish life.”). The tradition has continued, but now is used to represent any groups that may feel marginalized.

Sometimes a recipe isn’t just a recipe. Sometimes there’s something symbolic about an ingredient or dish that resonates with people. I certainly wasn’t expecting this cobbler to have such significance, but it’s nice to think there’s more to it than just a way to get people a little intoxicated.

Sweet Vermouth Cobbler // A Thought For FoodSweet Vermouth Cobbler // A Thought For FoodSweet Vermouth Cobbler // A Thought For FoodSweet Vermouth Cobbler // A Thought For FoodSweet Vermouth Cobbler // A Thought For FoodView full post »