Mediterranean Matzo Lasagna
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for oiling baking dish and brushing on matzo
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 (28-ounce) cans whole Italian plum tomatoes with juice, 1 can pureed
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 3/4 pounds ground lamb
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 pounds zucchini, ends trimmed and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch thick slices
- 6 matzos
- 2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded, cut into 1-inch strips
- 1/2 pound feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling, optional
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and add the onion. Saute until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add the tomatoes, crushing the whole ones with your hands as you add them to the pot. Add 3/4 teaspoon of the salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the rosemary, 1/4 teaspoon of the oregano and the crushed red pepper and stir to combine. Simmer sauce for 20 minutes, or until slightly thickened and flavorful. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the lamb, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of rosemary, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of oregano, and the black pepper. Cook, stirring to break up any lumps, until the lamb is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain off any excess fat that has rendered from the lamb and discard. Add 2 1/2 cups of the tomato sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat sauce is thickened and flavorful, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
Preheat the broiler.
Place the zucchini slices on a large nonstick baking sheet (or 2 small nonstick baking sheets) and brush both sides lightly with the remaining olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper and broil until zucchini is crisp-soft and golden in spots, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Oil a 9-by 13-inch baking dish. Soak the matzos, 1 or 2 at a time, in warm water until slightly softened but yet still firm enough to hold their shape, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain while you soak the remaining matzos.
Lay 2 matzos side by side in the bottom of the greased baking dish. They should almost completely cover the bottom. Spread half of the lamb filling evenly over the matzos, then top with the zucchini slices, overlapping slices if necessary so that they all fit. Top with 2 more matzos and the remaining lamb filling. Arrange the roasted pepper slices evenly over the top of the lamb. Top with the remaining 2 matzos and, using your hands, press the top of the whole casserole to condense layers slightly. Using a pastry brush, coat the top of the matzos with olive oil. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the top layer of matzos are crispy.
Reheat the remaining tomato sauce and divide the sauce evenly among 8 dinner plates. Divide the matzo lasagna into 8 portions and serve the lasagna squares over the sauce. Garnish with the crumbled feta cheese and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil if desired. Serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2004