A Nice Surprise

A Nice Surprise

Since I write about food, it should probably come as no surprise to you that publishers send me cookbooks from time to time (ok, all the time) in case I find them interesting enough to write about. In addition to receiving emails with subjects like “Celebrate National Beef Jerky Day!,” I find this to be one of the more glamorous perks of the job. I especially like it when something unexpected comes through the mail slot – like last month when I opened up my copy of Modern Jewish Cooking, by Leah Koenig, featuring photography by Sang An, whose name and happy, light-flooded food shots I remember from my days at Real Simple. Since it’s my sister, Lynn, who usually hosts the big Jewish celebrations in my family, I set the book aside with the intention of giving it to her next time I saw her. But here’s the funny thing: I kept coming up with reasons not to give it to her. I’ll name a few: Roast Chicken with Fennel and Lemon, Upside Down Apple Cake, Spinach Shakshuka, Roasted Beet Salad with Preserved Lemon, Jeweled Rice Pudding, Creamy Sorrel Soup with Harissa, Chocolate Banana Bundt Cake, Fennel Gratin, Miso-Roasted Asparagus, oh wow, oh wow. This book is a wonderful resource for the holidays, yes. But it’s a treasure for everyday cooking, too — it’s got a little of that Balaboosta thing going, too, making you wonder why you haven’t considered getting on board with the Mediterranean diet until now. Not because of the health benefits, but because, well…good grief look at what you get to eat for dinner. Anyway, lucky you guys, you get a little teaser of Koenig’s book here, that lovely Roast Chicken with Fennel & Lemon, and a Spinach Matzo Lasagna just in time for Passover. P.S. For those of you who are guests at the Seder table this year, I’d be willing to bet you’d score big points with the host if you showed up with a copy of Modern Jewish Cooking all tied up in a bow. Pick one up for my sister, too, wouldja?

Ingredients

  • Since I write about food, it should probably come as no surprise to you that publishers send me cookbooks from time to time (ok, all the time) in case I find them interesting enough to write about. In addition to receiving emails with subjects like “Celebrate National Beef Jerky Day!,” I find this to be one of the more glamorous perks of the job. I especially like it when something unexpected comes through the mail slot – like last month when I opened up my copy of Modern Jewish Cooking, by Leah Koenig, featuring photography by Sang An, whose name and happy, light-flooded food shots I remember from my days at Real Simple. Since it’s my sister, Lynn, who usually hosts the big Jewish celebrations in my family, I set the book aside with the intention of giving it to her next time I saw her. But here’s the funny thing: I kept coming up with reasons not to give it to her. I’ll name a few: Roast Chicken with Fennel and Lemon, Upside Down Apple Cake, Spinach Shakshuka, Roasted Beet Salad with Preserved Lemon, Jeweled Rice Pudding, Creamy Sorrel Soup with Harissa, Chocolate Banana Bundt Cake, Fennel Gratin, Miso-Roasted Asparagus, oh wow, oh wow. This book is a wonderful resource for the holidays, yes. But it’s a treasure for everyday cooking, too — it’s got a little of that Balaboosta thing going, too, making you wonder why you haven’t considered getting on board with the Mediterranean diet until now. Not because of the health benefits, but because, well…good grief look at what you get to eat for dinner. Anyway, lucky you guys, you get a little teaser of Koenig’s book here, that lovely Roast Chicken with Fennel & Lemon, and a Spinach Matzo Lasagna just in time for Passover. P.S. For those of you who are guests at the Seder table this year, I’d be willing to bet you’d score big points with the host if you showed up with a copy of Modern Jewish Cooking all tied up in a bow. Pick one up for my sister, too, wouldja?
  • Spinach-Matzo Lasagna
  • A Note from Koenig: Over the last decade, matzo lasagna has quickly and emphatically entered the Passover mainstream. Its rise has partly to do with the need it fills for a substantive main dish to serve during the holiday’s weeklong bread ban. The other reason for its popularity? It’s delicious, and remarkably so. Softened matzo provides a convincingly noodle-like base for the rich ricotta and mozzarella, tangy marinara, and tender spinach threaded throughout the layers. I like to imagine that, fifty years from now, my future children and grandchildren will swear that Passover is not Passover without spinach-matzo lasagna.
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 4 cups full-fat or low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 9 sheets matzo
  • 4 cups good-quality marinara
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F
Read the whole recipe on Dinner: A Love Story