a stack of matzah on a white tablecloth
(Photo/Flickr-Avital Pinnick CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Lotsa matzah? Dip in to the possibilities

My father buys enough matzah every year to support a large Jewish tribe. He gets a bulk deal at the grocery store, and parcels out boxes to his grown children in a pre-Passover ritual as old as our adulthood.

The year we moved back to the Bay Area from Chicago, I had forgotten about this tradition and had already purchased my own matzah like any other well-functioning Jewish adult. When my father’s multibox delivery showed up tucked under his arm a few days prior to seder, I gracefully declined.

“You don’t want the matzah?” he asked.

“I have matzah,” I answered.

“But do you have enough?”

I eyed my two boxes of matzah, while considering my 2-year-old and husband. “I think so,” I said.

But my father’s presence, there in my kitchen with his extra matzah boxes held tight, made me reconsider. Were two boxes really enough? What if we ran out? What if we ran out before making matzah brei? I took my father’s matzah.

Eight days later, we had not come close to running out. But we had discovered the joy of dips, and the fact that matzah, once you’re done soaking it in egg or layering it into lasagna or grinding it up for breading, is really nothing more than one big cracker. Excellent with anything simmered slowly into a spread. Enjoy.

Artichoke and Spinach Dip

Serves 6-8

6 oz. marinated artichoke hearts, drained, 2 Tbs. marinade reserved
1 cup thawed, chopped frozen spinach, water pressed out
4 oz. cream cheese, cut in pieces
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded pepper jack
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried minced onion
1/4 tsp. granulated garlic
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika

In a saucepan, heat marinated artichokes with reserved marinade. When simmering, stir in drained, thawed spinach. Turn heat to low, stir in cream cheese until melted. Add Parmesan and pepper jack. Turn off heat and stir until cheese melts. Add sour cream, mayonnaise, salt, minced onion, granulated garlic and paprika. Serve warm with matzah.

Italian Caponata

Serves 8

Adapted from “Jewish Cooking in America” by Joan Nathan

3 pounds eggplant, unpeeled
1 red bell pepper, cored, veins and seeds removed
1 yellow bell pepper, cored, veins and seeds removed
3 cups yellow onion, sliced thin
1/2 cup. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
15 oz canned chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup white wine
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. oregano 1/8
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup julienned basil
2 Tbs. pine nuts

Slice the eggplant lengthwise, then into half-inch half-moon slices. Cut the pepper into julienne strips. Heat 6 Tbs. olive oil in a large skillet. Sauté the sliced onions and pepper until the onions are just wilted, about eight minutes. Add the garlic and the eggplant. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is done, about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes, white wine, salt, sugar, oregano, and pepper, stir, and cook 20 minutes more.

Remove from stove. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Mix in remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil, lemon juice, parsley and basil. Chill at least four hours. Serve garnished with pine nuts.

Josie A.G. Shapiro

Josie A.G. Shapiro won the 2013 Man-O-Manischewitz Cookoff and is the co-author of “The Lazy Gourmet.”