In this browned baked dish, matzo crackers replace the usual pasta for a rich, ricotta-filled lasagna that’s Passover-friendly and relatively easy. In this version, the ricotta is flecked with basil, and the marinara sauce gently spiced with garlic and a touch of red-pepper flakes. Feel free to use the recipe as a template to create your own combinations — adding vegetables, other herbs and other cheeses as you like. The heady tomato sauce and bubbling, golden mozzarella on top can frame whatever other ingredients you’d like to add. You can assemble the matzo lasagna the day before you bake it (store it in the fridge); just add a few minutes onto the baking time. If you are using handmade shmurah matzo, soak the sheets for 5 minutes in water before layering them. Supermarket matzo, which is lighter and more airy, does not need to be soaked.
- Serves: 8 persons
- ¼cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 4garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 4anchovies, finely chopped (optional)
- ½teaspoon black pepper
- ¼teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
- 2(28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
- ¾teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
- 1rosemary sprig
- 2 ¾cups/24 ounces whole-milk ricotta, preferably fresh
- 1large egg
- ¼cup basil leaves, chopped, plus more for serving
- ¾teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1(10-ounce) box matzo, preferably egg or salted matzo
- 1pound fresh mozzarella, sliced, then torn into bite-size pieces
- ½cup freshly grated Parmesan
Step 1Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large pot over medium, heat oil, and stir in garlic, anchovies (if using), pepper and red-pepper flakes. Cook until garlic starts to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
Step 2Use your hands to squeeze and crush the whole tomatoes as you add them to the pot, along with any liquid in the cans (or use kitchen shears to cut the tomatoes in the can). Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and rosemary sprig, bring to a gentle simmer, and simmer at medium-low heat for 20 minutes.
Step 3Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together ricotta, egg, basil, pepper, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and nutmeg.
Step 4To assemble the lasagna, spread generous 1/2 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9-by-13 baking dish. Place matzo crackers in an even layer on top, breaking crackers to fit as necessary.
Step 5Spread half the ricotta mixture over the matzo layer, spreading all the way to the edges. Top with generous 3/4 cup tomato sauce, then scatter with 1/3 of the mozzarella.
Step 6Repeat matzo, ricotta, tomato sauce, and mozzarella layers.
Step 7Top with a final layer of matzo, then spread remaining tomato sauce (about 2 cups) on top, making sure all of the matzo is covered. Top with remaining mozzarella and 1/2 cup Parmesan.
Step 8Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until cheese is golden and sauce is bubbly, about 20 to 25 minutes longer. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then serve topped with more basil, a drizzle of olive oil and more red-pepper flakes, if you like.