Thursday, April 24, 2008

Matza Pasta with Dandelion Green & Meat Ragout

Matza pasta was pretty much my favorite passover food as a child. I know it sounds weird, but don't knock it 'til you've tried it. Briefly cooked matza strips make a surprisingly good pasta alternative-- they even have a similar texture. My favorite way to have them is with butter, parmesan, and black pepper, but this ragout makes this more of a meal-- and can easily be served with regular pasta.

Dandelion greens have replaced kale and chard in the farmers markets and are a delicious cooking green (you don't even have to cook them-- they make a good salad too, especially with a warm vinaigrette). As an added bonus, they're remarkably healthy, with more iron & calcium than spinach and even antioxidant properties. They're slightly bitter so the sauce I made is kind of on the sweet side-- if you're using no greens, or a less bitter green (like kale), add some cayenne & cumin to the meat at the end of the browning step and skip the roasted garlic.

You'll need:

3-4 pieces of matza per person (this recipe makes enough sauce for 3-4 people)
1 lb ground beef, about 85% (I used Kobe, as it was on sale, but you can use sirloin or just chuck)
1 large leek, chopped
2 spring garlic, chopped
2T red pepper flakes
1 head roasted garlic (optional, adds sweetness)
2T tomato paste
1 large (28 oz) can peeled Roma tomatoes in sauce
3 handfuls dandelion greens, large stems removed
1T olive oil
1/4c red wine or other liquid

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the beef, salt and pepper. Break up the meat with a wooden spatula and saute until brown. Add leek, spring garlic and red pepper flakes. Saute about 5 more minutes until meat starts to stick to skillet. Add tomato paste and stir to combine; cook 1 more minute. Deglaze with wine (or any liquid), scraping the bottom of the pan. Add tomatoes in their juices and roasted garlic, if using. Stir to combine and lower heat to a simmer.

Boil salted water for the matza. Break matza into long thin strips-- you're going for something resembling pappardelle here. It's ok if they break in two. Put the dry strips on a plate while the water is boiling. When the water is ready, gently add the matza strips, leaving the crumbs behind on the plate (they'll turn the whole thing gooey-- that's why you don't just break the matza into the pot). The matza only needs about 1 minute to cook; taste it for doneness before removing and straining.

Top cooked matza with sauce and a sprinkling of cheese (I used pecorino, above). Serve immediately and mix well to coat matza. (You'll probably need a higher sauce:matza ratio than with pasta.)


aTaster said...

This turned out better than I expected...You'd think that matza wouold turn into mush when boiled...but it ends up strongly resembling pasta! What if you could turn it into cake too...

Nir said...

Hmmm, I definitely try this recipe next year. I've been making matza pancakes this past week which means essentially soaking the matza a bit in boiling water, and then mixing it with a whipped egg and some salt, then cooking it like an omelette.


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