For those who have never had the pleasure of enduring the holiday of Passover, it’s hard to understand why there’s so much to complain about. Matzah can’t be that bad, can it? Well, if you’re eating it by choice, the crunchy, crumbly cracker can be a nice change from other flat breads. But for the people who eat matzah for 8 days a year as a reminder of the affliction of the Jewish people during the time they were slaves in Egypt, we try to be as creative as possible in order to avoid eating it for every meal.
If you’re not familiar with the story of Passover, here is the abridged version: After being enslaved in Egypt for many years (the exact number of years is debated every year in the Haggadah, the book that is read every year during the Passover Seder), Moses approached the Pharaoh and asked that he set the Jews free from slavery. Pharaoh refused, and to show him the power of the Jewish God, 10 plagues were brought upon the Egyptians. After each plague, Moses returned to Pharaoh to ask for the Jews’ freedom, and every time he refused, until Pharaoh’s son was killed during the last plague, the slaying of the first born. Pharaoh then agreed to let the Jews go, but the Jews realised that they had to act fast to get out of Egypt before Pharaoh reneged on his decree. Enter the invention of matzah- because of all the commotion preparing to leave Egypt in a hurry, there was not enough time for the bread, which was baked for the long trek out of Egypt, to rise. The Jews wandered in the desert, and as the approached the Red Sea, Pharaoh’s chariots were not far behind, ready to bring the Jews back to slavery. With the help of God, Moses parted the sea, so that the entire Jewish nation could quickly move to the other side, and as the last few people crossed, the Egyptians entered the parted sea, and the water closed on top of them. When they safely settled on the other side of the Red Sea, Moses ascended Mount Sinai to receive the 10 commandments, and while he was up there, the Jewish people celebrated their newfound freedom. However, they built and worshipped a golden calf, which went against the very first of the 10 commandments, and so the Jewish people were punished and were forced to wander the desert for 40 years before they could enter Israel. For a more detailed story, check the Book of Exodus, which tells the entire story. You could also catch the famous Charlton Heston film, The 10 Commandments, which airs on tv every year on Easter Weekend.
One of the most widely known, and probably widely feared, Jewish foods is the infamous gefilte fish. Traditionally, gefilte fish is a poached mixture of ground boned fish, such as carp, whitefish or pike, and it is typically eaten as an appetizer. Depending on where your ancestor’s had roots, you may eat it sweet, or with salt and pepper. It really does sound disgusting, but if you’ve acquired a taste for it, it’s actually quite good! Gefilte fish is not reserved just for Passover, but is more often eaten on holidays and Shabbat.
This recipe is a modern twist on the traditional gefilte fish. It brings together spinach, carrots and fish, and makes it into a more attractive, less fishy looking cassarole. It is low fat and easy to make!
Gefilte Fish Casserole
3 loaves of frozen, pre-made sweet gefilte fish
1 package of frozen chopped spinach
3-4 large peeled and cut carrots (or about 25-30 baby carrots)
- Defrost the loaves of gefilte fish by leaving them in the fridge overnight.
- Boil the carrots until they are soft enough to mash, and at the same time, cook the spinach according to package directions, and drain extremely well.
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Mash the carrots, and then remove one loaf of gefilte fish from the paper (usually you would boil it in the paper), and add it to the carrots. Mash it all together, and then put it in one layer into a greased 9 x 11 pyrex dish or other oven safe dish.
- Unwrap the second loaf of fish, and mash it so that it’s soft enough to spread on top of the carrot layer.
- After draining the spinach really well, add the third loaf of gefilte fish to it, and mash it all together, then add it as the top layer of the casserole.
- Put the casserole uncovered in the oven, and bake for one hour.
- You can serve it straight from the oven, or refrigerate and serve it cold- I prefer it cold.