A Sephardic Passover Meat Pie

For one Greek Jewish family, this casserole has been a seder staple for years.

We are Sephardic Jews. Originally from Spain, most of our families fled in 1492, expelled by the Monarchy to avoid a forced conversion to Catholicism under threat of death. Many of our families were welcomed into the lands of the Sultan, under Ottoman rule. There our families stayed for near 500 years.

My family found refuge and a home on the Island of Rhodes, in the Mediterranean. Rhodes is now a Greek island, from 1912-’43 an Italian protectorate, and in the time of my family, under the rule of Turkey. Our Jewish culture and traditions are influenced by our Ladino language, a form of medieval Spanish we’ve carried for hundreds of years, and the Turkish cultural of Rhodes.

We keep our traditions alive from generation to generation by telling the stories, sharing the traditions, and making the foods! Food connect us — generation to generation. The smells, tastes and textures remind us of holidays past, of family members missed. Food helps us keep the tradition alive!

When is Passover 2016? Click here to find out!

At Passover, one of the staples of our Seder meal is a Megina, sometimes referred to as “mina”, or a “meat quajado.” Quajado (pronounced kwah-shah-doh) is a Sephardic dish that traces back to Spain which is usually made with vegetables and eggs and often cheese. My mom’s Passover meat is made with crumbled matzah mixed in instead of cheese giving it a quajado like consistency once cooked, and the ability to be cut easily into and served in squares. The “mina” version is often made with layers of soaked and softened matzahs and constructed more like a meat lasagna. I am sharing the recipe as my mom makes it for our family and as she has taught it in community cooking classes. This is one of those dishes you can customize to your liking, adding different spices for a different flair. Adventurous cooks could add cumin or ‘ras el hanut’ or even cilantro instead of parsley, to name a few. This version is made with ground beef, although ground turkey works as well. Let us know what you think!

My Mom’s (Kaye Israel) Recipe for Passover “Megina” (meat casserole)

Also called Quajado de Carne or Mina

2 cups chopped onions (approximately 2 medium large onions)
2 lbs ground meat
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon pepper (to taste)
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 c parsley, chopped
10 eggs
1 cup farfel (soaked in warm water, and squeezed dry) or 4 sheets matzah (soaked in warm water, squeezed dry and crumbled)
touch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Brown meat with onions in oil; transfer to bowl and allow to cool.

Add salt, pepper, parsley (or other seasoning if using) and farfel (or matzah).

Beat two of the eggs and add to mixture. Combine with meat. Repeat 2 eggs at a time until 8 eggs are mixed in and two remain.

Grease 9 x 13 inch pan (pyrex type) and heat in oven for 2 – 3 minutes.

Pour mixture into heated pan.

Spread remaining 2 beaten eggs to top of mix.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Allow to cool.

Cut into squares and serve. Delish!!!!

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