An Italian Salad for the Post-Passover Pantry

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Zeke's post made me think about "matzoh-nella," my Tuscan matzoh riff. A few years ago I was gifted a few boxes of matzoh, left over from a community Seder. I thought about making matzoh brei but decided my Florentine husband needed something a little more familiar for his first matzoh encounter. So I substituted soaked and squeezed matzoh for bread in panzanella, a traditional Tuscan first-course salad made with stale bread.

He was impressed. I loved the name, which sounds so Italian. Note: I still had plenty of leftover matzoh. I think it multiplies in the box.

Serves 4 to 6 as a first course

    • 4 ounces matzoh
    • 1 red onion, coarsely chopped
    • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
    • around 1 cup cherry tomatoes
    • 1 cucumber
    • 1 bunch rucola (rocket) or purslane, cut into bite-sized pieces
    • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped basil
    • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • fine sea salt
    • freshly ground black pepper

Soak matzoh in a bowl of water for 10 minutes until soft. Squeeze all the water out of the matzoh and measure 2 cups. Place the damp matzoh in a large serving bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Split the cucumber in half lengthwise, remove the seeds (I use the tip of a potato peeler), cut into chunks, season with salt, and set aside for 10 minutes.

Marinate the onions with the vinegar for 10 minutes.

Cut cherry tomatoes in half and squeeze over a sieve to eliminate seeds and juice.

Drain the cucumber chunks and combine with onion, tomatoes, rucola, basil, and matzoh. Dress with the extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

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Faith Willinger is a chef, author, and born-again Italian. She moved to Italy in 1973 and has spent over 30 years searching for the best food from the Alps to Sicily. More

Faith Heller Willinger is a born-again Italian. She moved to Italy in 1973 and was seduced by Italian regional cooking. Faith has spent more than 30 years searching for the best food and wine, as well as the world beyond the table from the Alps to Sicily. She has no regrets about mileage or calories. Faith was awarded the prestigious San Pellegrino award for outstanding work as an ambassador of Italian cooking. She lives full-time in Florence with her Tuscan husband, Massimo. Her son Max lives in Milan. She's the author of the bestselling (9th printing) guidebook Eating in Italy, the cookbook Red, White & Greens, and the narrative recipe book Adventures of an Italian Food Lover. Faith teaches in her kitchen in Florence on Wednesdays, supplied with freshly picked produce from her favorite farmers. Check out her web site at www.faithwillinger.com.

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