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A Sephardic Taste of Passover 

Call it Mina or Minika, this Sephardic dish is like a lasagna made with matzah

By Jewish Food Society

Published Mar 28, 2024

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Sometimes called Mina, sometimes called Minikas, this Passover dish can have a variety of fillings and is a beloved staple of Sephardic homes. This recipe from The Jewish Holiday Table, the 2024 cookbook by Naama Shefi and the Jewish Food Society, Mina De Espinaca, shares the popular spinach version, and the technique can also be used with other fillings. 

Excerpted from The Jewish Holiday Table by Naama Shefi and the Jewish Food Society (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2024. 

Mina de Espinaca 
Matzah and Spinach Pie 

A staple of Sephardi Passover tables, mina de matza (sometimes simply called mina) is a type of savory pie stacked with sheets of matzah and fillings like seasoned meat, eggplant, or spinach and cheese. With layers of mashed potatoes and spinach, both laced with Parmesan, this one from Alexandra’s family makes a wonderful main for a vegetarian Seder or Passover lunch. 

Ingredients:

2 russet or 3 Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1½ pounds/675 g), scrubbed, halved if large 

Kosher salt 

1½ cups (about 6 ounces/170 g) shredded Parmesan cheese  

8 ounces (225 g) cream cheese, at room temperature 

2 large eggs, lightly beaten 

1 pound (450 g) baby spinach, finely chopped 

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 

4 or 5 sheets matzah (7-inch/17.5 cm squares) 

Directions:

Potatoes

  1. Put the potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with water, add 1 tablespoon salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the potatoes can be easily pierced with a knife, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and let cool until the potatoes are cool enough to handle but still warm.  
  2. Peel the potatoes and put them in a large bowl. Mash them with a potato ricer or fork until smooth, with no chunks. Add 1½ teaspoons salt, ¾ cup (85 g) of the Parmesan cheese, the cream cheese, and the eggs and mix well with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth and uniform. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt, if you like. Set aside. 

Spinach Mixture

  1. Put the chopped spinach in a medium bowl and add ½ cup (55 g) of the Parmesan and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix until the cheese and salt are evenly distributed. Set aside.  
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease a 10-inch (25 cm) springform pan with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil.  
  3. Fill a container that’s large enough to hold a matzah sheet with about an inch (2.5 cm) of water and stir in ¼ teaspoon salt. Line a plate or tray with paper towels.  
  4. Soak the matzahs one at a time in the water until the sheets are flexible yet still firm enough to hold their shape; this could take anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute or two. Gently place each soaked matzah on the paper towels to absorb excess moisture.  

Mina

  1. Line the bottom of the springform pan with a matzah, then fill in the gaps around the edges with pieces of matzah that you tear to fit. Spread half of the spinach-Parmesan mixture over the matzah in an even layer. Add another layer of moistened matzah on top, gently pressing the matzah into the spinach layer to make space for the remaining layers.  
  2. Spread the rest of the spinach mixture over the matzah layer. Place another layer of matzah over the spinach, gently pressing the matzah into the spinach to make room for the remaining layer.  
  3. Spread the potato mixture evenly over the matzah layer. Use the back of a spoon or an offset spatula to make swirls in the surface of the potatoes so they brown attractively in the oven. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup (25 g) Parmesan on top of the potato layer and drizzle the remaining olive oil on top. 
  4. Bake the mina until deep golden brown, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the mina to cool for about 5 minutes, then run the tip of a sharp knife around the edges of the mina to release it from the pan. 
  5. Remove the sides of the springform, transfer the mina to a serving platter, and cut into wedges. Serve hot. 

Want more Passover recipe inspiration?

In the 2021 JArts series Kitchen Explorations, we spoke with Marcia Weiss and Chef Michael Leviton to hear her Turkish families’ Mina story, while Michael “chefified” it for us. Watch it here.

More on The Jewish Holiday Table and where you can purchase your copy here.

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Jewish Food Society is a non-profit organization that works to preserve, celebrate, and revitalize Jewish culinary heritage from around the world. 

Reflections

  1. Mina are like a bollo which is like a boureka which is like a knish… and exemplify the ways in which many communities make variations on similar dish themes and techniques. Does your family have a version of a “mina”?
  2. What are your favorite Passover food traditions? 

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