For a number of years, his go-to late night snack was a sheet of matzo smeared with tomato paste, then topped with slices of bright orange fat-free American "cheese." He'd then microwave it until the cheese-like substance began to bubble and the matzo softened a bit. Oddly, I never joined him in this indulgence.
Taking a gamble that matzo could be put to better use than nuked faux pizza, I recently did a bit of research. Turns out, Dad wasn't the only one putting matzo to use in classic Italian dishes. They just happened to do it a lot better than he did. My favourite? The many iterations of matzo lasagna, in which sheets of matzo are used in place of the noodles.
That prompted me to start playing, and this savory-creamy white lasagna stacked with sauteed mushrooms and onions was the delicious result.
CREAMY MUSHROOM AND CARAMELIZED ONION MATZO LASAGNA
Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes (45 minutes active)
2 tablespoons butter
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
8 ounces sliced mixed mushrooms
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 sheets matzo
Heat the oven to 350 F. Coat a 8-by-8-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
In a large skillet over medium-high, melt the butter. Add the onions and saute until they are starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and thyme, then saute until the mushrooms also have begun to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cream, then simmer, stirring often, until thickened, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta, eggs, Italian seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Set aside. In a small bowl, mix together the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
To assemble the lasagna, set 1 sheet of matzo in the prepared baking pan. Spread a third of the ricotta mixture over the matzo, then spread a third of the mushroom-onion mixture over that. Sprinkle with a quarter of the cheese blend, then top with a second sheet of matzo, gently pressing it so it lays flat. Repeat the layering two more times, finishing with a final sheet of matzo and sprinkling the remaining cheese over it.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the cheeses have melted and lightly browned. Let cool for 10 minutes, then cut into squares to serve.
Nutrition information per serving: 480 calories; 310 calories from fat (65 per cent of total calories); 35 g fat (22 g saturated; 0.5 g trans fats); 170 mg cholesterol; 22 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 20 g protein; 580 mg sodium.
J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. He blogs at http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com and tweets at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch . Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org