This dish closely resembles layered matzo casseroles, called minas, which are commonly served at Sephardic Seders. They consist of layered matzos, vegetables, and cheese. With optional Daiya cheese, or no cheese at all, it’s a tradition well worth adopting (and adapting) for the vegan Passover Seder. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky. Adapted from Vegan Holiday Kitchen.
Spinach, Leek, and Potato Matzo Gratin
- 8 medium potatoes
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 medium ripe avocado pitted, peeled, and cut into large chunks
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large or 3 medium leeks white and palest green parts only, chopped and well rinsed
- 10 to 12 ounces baby spinach rinsed
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried
- ¼ cup matzo meal or quinoa flakes
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 6 matzos
- 1 cup grated Daiya cheese optional (see Note)
- ⅓ cup pine nuts for topping optional
- Cook, bake, or microwave the potatoes in their skins until just tender. When cool enough to handle, peel and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices.
- Cover the cashews with 1 cup of boiling water in a heatproof bowl and let stand for at least 15 minutes.
- Drain the cashews, then combine with the avocado and lemon juice in a food processor. Process until smoothly pureed; drizzle enough water through the feed tube while the processor is running to give the mixture a thick, creamy texture.
- Preheat the oven to 350º F.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the leeks and sauté over medium-low heat until golden. Add the spinach in batches, covering and cooking until wilted to make room for all of it.
- Stir in the cashew cream, dill, and matzo meal. Season with salt and pepper.
- Break each matzo in half, and place in a shallow container. Cover with room-temperature water in a shallow container until slightly pliable (don’t let them get mushy!), about 2 minutes; drain. Lightly oil a 9- by 13-inch casserole dish.
- Layer the casserole as follows: line the bottom with a layer of matzos, using two matzos per layer. Follow with a layer of potato slices, half of the spinach mixture, half of the optional cheese, and another layer of matzos. Repeat, ending with a layer of matzo and the remaining cheese.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until top is golden with spots of brown. Let stand for 10 minutes, then cut into squares to serve.
Note: Using Daiya cheese (which is made from tapioca flour), should be fine for Sephardic Passover, if you aren't concerned that this product isn’t specifically Kosher for Passover. However, it contains pea protein, which is considered kitniyot, so make sure to determine how strictly your Ashkenazic guests adhere to the rules!
- Find more at VegKitchen’s Passover: Ashkenazic-Style Seder page.
- Find more ways to make Special Occasions and Entertaining easier and healthier.
Caroline M. in L.A. says
This matza gratin recipe looks delicious. I will definitely be making it for my vegan seder.
As you know having a vegan, legume free seder is quite a challenge. Thank you for posting all the Ashkenazic vegan seder recipes! I made the quinoa cranberry salad last year and it was a hit!
Brilliant idea, but needs serious spicing. I'd add garlic powder and a lot more salt, maybe some nutmeg, a dash of cayenne, cumin, SOMETHING to keep it from being as bland as the recipe currently has it. Also, the matzoh boards broken in half don't quite cover the "gratin"--I'd suggest soaking an extra matzoh and breaking each matzoh into more than half and forming a mosaic. I like that it comes out of the oven like a veggie gratin "en croute", but the mild, mild, mild flavor needs improvement. Happy Pesach.
I'm curious about this recipe as I was asked to bring a vegetarian main dish to a Seder next week. I've used cashews for cream before but never added avocado. Would the author care to elaborate on this technique?
Tracie, the avocado adds an element of richness, especially if you avoid using Daiya cheese. Daiya isn't Kosher for Passover, so many people who adhere strictly to dietary laws wouldn't use it.
Daiya has pea protein so it kitnoyot and thus not permitted to Ashkenazi Jews.
You're right; I never noticed that before. I will correct that note in the recipe. A photo of this dish will be added tomorrow so I'll make the correction when uploading it! Thanks so much for your input.
I made this last night to do a dry run for passover next week. I am not normally vegan, but we are having several vegan guests. It was amazing! Not bland at all. I have a special pan that I usually use for lasagna (it has three wells each about the size of a lasagna noodle and 3" deep) This recipe worked beautifully in it. When I prepare for next week I think I will up the quantity of the creamy spinach filling a little-- not because it was lacking, just because it was the best part! I wouldn't add or change anything otherwise, as the other commenter suggested. I used no Daiya or pine nuts, but I did spritz the top matzo with some olive oil to crisp it up. Thanks for a great recipe!
Thanks so much for your feedback, Kay. If you do decide to use Daiya, ask your guests if they're strict about kitnoyot, as it contains pea protein. This is a popular recipe, and I'll be adding a photo of it, hopefully soon! Hope you and your guests have a lovely Seder.
I am not Jewish and I have NO idea where I am going to find matzo in Tasmania Australia but I want this! I want it bad...any idea of a recipe that I could make to duplicate matzo?
That's a great question, and one that I can't answer. But since matzo is basically made of flour and water, if you google "matzo recipe" you're sure to find one!
How far in advance can you make this for your Seder?
Johanna, I know that some readers have made this ahead to freeze, and I've never done so, so I can't guarantee the results. I'm sorry, I somehow missed seeing your questions until now. And since we're just one day out from the first night of Passover I hope you went ahead and made this, as making it a day ahead is certainly fine!
i only made the filling and it is delicious!
I've made this for Seder the past two years and will likely make it again this year. its delish and a hit with non-vegans. When I make it it never looks as pretty as the picture and the top layer of matza always curls up but that doesn't take from the flavor.
/Hi I was searching this blog for your absolutely wonderful recipe for Spinach Minas (with potatoes) but it's not here and I realized a little bit ago that it's probably because there was real cheese in the recipe...not withstanding, I really like the old recipe, do you have any idea what other blog might have something like these lovely minas? I'm sure that this recipe is tasty too,but I'd sure love to find those spinach minas!!
Hi Nina — Are you sure that recipe is mine? I even looked in my out of print book, Vegetarian Celebrations, and there I have only a leek and potato gratin (no spinach) and an eggplant matzo mina, which I have veganized here: http://www.vegkitchen.com/recipes/eggplant-matzo-mina/ — perhaps you can use that as a template to create your own. I'm pretty sure the spinach mina isn't mine (unless I did it as part of an article from long ago). This one you commented on is very much like a mina; perhaps you can also consider tweaking this to your liking. Hope this helps!
Judith Raymond says
Hi, you cant get the cheese thing here so left it out.
Also i thought it a bit heavy with potatoes, so substituted a mix of other root vegetables, carrot, celeriac parsnip.
Also used spelt matzah, as guest was what intolerant.
Im not sure it resembles your original recipe, but was jolly nice. Thanks x
I used fewer potatoes and omitted the top layer of matza. Also omitted the daiya cheese. I added some coriander to complement the dill it was really bland. Very disappointed. I'd hoped I'd found our Seder main dish.
Is there a sub for the cashews? Almonds maybe? My son is allergic to cashews and pistachios but I'd really like to make this this year.