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Mina de Maza [Matzah Pie]

By: 
Tina Wasserman
Mina de Maza vegetarian recipe for Passover
Mina de Maza. Photo by Rose Eichenbaum.

Recipes for matzah lasagna or matzah pies are common in American Jewish cookbooks, but these foods are not inventions of the American Jewish kitchen. Throughout the Mediterranean, Turkish Minas, Italian Scacchi, and Greek Pitas--all layered dishes similar to lasagna--have been prepared for at least a thousand years using matzah for dough during Passover. The following is a variation of the classic Turkish Mina and a meatless Scacchi. 

Ingredients: 
Spinach Filling:
2 Tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled
7 1/2 ounces Friendship farmer cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, to taste
1 Tablespoon minced fresh dill
Mushroom-Artichoke Filling:
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large clove of garlic, finely minced
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
8 ounces defrosted artichoke hearts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons roasted pine nuts
8 regular matzah squares
2 cups warm vegetable or mushroom broth
1 egg
2 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Additional butter for greasing the pan
Directions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Lightly grease a 13" x 9" pan with the additional butter. Set aside.
  3. Melt 2 Tablespoons of butter in a 2-quart pan. Sauté the onion until golden.
  4. Squeeze out all of the excess moisture from the spinach with your hands and add to the onions, then cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the moisture has evaporated. Mix in the feta, farmer cheese, eggs, seasonings, and dill, and then set aside.
  5. Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter in a small sauté pan and add the garlic. Cook for 20 seconds over medium high heat, and then mix in the mushrooms, sautéing them for about 5 minutes, until they have given up most of their moisture.
  6. If the artichoke pieces are large, cut them in half. Add to the mushroom mixture and stir to heat through. Mix in the toasted pine nuts and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  7. Heat the 2 cups of broth in the microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes. Pour into an 8-inch square casserole or a deep dish that will hold the liquid and soak 2 sheets of matzah at a time until they are soft and pliable. Once you have 4 soft matzot, fit them into the bottom and sides of the buttered dish.
  8. Spread the spinach mixture over the matzot, then top with the mushroom mixture.
  9. Soak the remaining 4 sheets of matzah in the broth and then cover the filling, trimming or tucking in the sides.
  10. Add the remaining egg to the leftover broth in the dish (note: if no broth is left, combine 1/2 cup broth with the egg) and pour it evenly over the entire casserole.
  11. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top and bake for 35-45 minutes until golden brown and bubbling. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Source: 
Tina's Tidbits: 

  • To enhance the flavor of nuts, roast them in a 325°F oven for 5-7 minutes until fragrant.
  • Always sauté onions alone for part of their cooking time. This will caramelize the natural sugars that make fried onions sweet.
  • Consider using one 10-ounce package of frozen chopped spinach instead of 1 pound of fresh spinach. You don't have to wash, de-stem, or chop the frozen variety; you just defrost and squeeze out the excess moisture.