Many variations of this type of matzo casserole, known as a mina, are specialties of Sephardic Jews of various cultures. This one is Italian-influenced, and came my way via a resident of Bologna. This eggplant matzo mina will remind you of lasagna, and it can serve as a festive main dish for a vegan Passover seder.
It’s not easy to find exciting main dishes for the Ashkenazik Passover Seder. Sephardic Jews have more options, as they continue to use some grains and legumes, other than those considered hametz, during the holiday week. These foods are in the category of Kitniyot, which you can learn about in more detail here.
It seems like the rules on kitniyot are occasionally updated – notably, when it was decreed some years back that quinoa would be considered an allowable food for Passover.
This delectable layered casserole mainly consists of produce and matzo; there are couple of items that need to be flagged if you use strictly Kosher for Passover designated foods (rather than generally Kosher):
You’ll likely be able to find a Kosher for Passover marinara sauce. But I’m not sure the same is true for vegan cheese shreds. Daiya® brand is Kosher and since it’s made from tapioca starch, which isn’t hametz, it isn’t considered kitniyot.
If you keep strictly Kosher for Passover but you like the idea of a layered matzo casserole, consider Spinach and Potato Matzo Gratin, in which the Daiya vegan cheese shreds are optional.
This casserole is not only a delicious addition to the seder table, it’s a great way to use leftover matzo after the holiday week. Recipe adapted from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky, BittersweetBlog.com.
- 2 medium eggplants, about 1 1/2 pounds total
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 medium-large onion, finely chopped
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 28-ounce jar good quality marinara sauce
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 5 to 6 matzos, as needed
- 8-ounce package mozzarella-style vegan cheese shreds (see Note)
- Preheat the oven to 400º F.
- Trim the ends from the eggplants and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Brush lightly with some of the oil (or use cooking oil spray). Arrange one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes, then flip and bake for 10 minutes longer, or until fork-tender but not overdone. Remove from the oven.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a deep saucepan. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté until both are golden. Add the marinara sauce, parsley, seasoning, and a few grindings of pepper. Stir together and remove from the heat.
- Start with 5 matzos. Break each matzo into three strips. Fill a shallow casserole dish with cold water. Place the matzo strips in it for 2 minutes, until pliable but not mushy. Quickly drain the water off.
- Lightly oil a 9- by 13-inch casserole dish and layer as follows: a very shallow layer of the sauce, a layer of eggplant, a layer of matzo (if you need another matzo to complete the layer, which depends on the exact size of your casserole dish, repeat step 4 with one more matzo), half of the remaining sauce, and a layer of cheese. Repeat, once again ending with a layer of cheese.
- Bake (at 400º) for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cheese is touched with golden brown spots.
There are a number of Kosher vegan cheeses that aren’t kitniyot, though they’re not specifically Kosher for Passover. One of them, for example, is Daiya, which is made from tapioca starch.
See lots more Jewish vegan recipes on this site.