Shavuot, coming up in just over two weeks, is the holiday celebrating the giving of the Torah, as well as the holiday of dairy decadence. This break from the heavy meat consumption common to many homes during most Jewish holidays has numerous explanations given in the Talmud and other Jewish sources. The most popular reason I’ve heard repeated around Shavuot time is that since the laws pertaining to kashrut were only given on Shavuot, the Jews did not have sufficient time to prepare kosher-slaughtered meat (which requires extensive salting and soaking to promote exsanguination), and so they simply ate dairy foods. In commemoration and anticipation of “re-receiving” the Torah, the ideal meal of cheese-lovers and vegetarians became customary.
Most people I know who keep kosher simply avoid lasagna, claiming that it does not live up to the superiority of its non-kosher counterpart, or make a meat version with soy cheese. However, for Shavuot — or whenever — why not simply go for the real stuff and make a cheese-only lasagna? If the lack of meat is painful, you can try adding various soy- or nut-based ground meats. They may not have been at Sinai, but lasagna probably wasn’t, either.
Yields a 9×13″ pan of lasagna.
12 lasagna noodles
16 ounces (1 pound) ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 jumbo egg
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese
8 ounces tomato sauce (can substitute marinara sauce)
3-4 ounces shredded Mozzarella cheese
Optional: 2 ounces ground imitation meat or various vegetables, thinly sliced, if you’re a killjoy
Preheat oven to 350°F (anywhere between 325-375°F also works, but baking time should be adjusted accordingly.) Boil the noodles in lightly salted water until al dente. (You can try no-boil noodles, but the lasagna may turn out tough.) Drain and set aside. Thoroughly combine the ricotta, spices, salt and egg.
Prepare a 9×13″ pan by spooning some tomato sauce over the bottom and tilting to coat. Place one layer of noodles in the pan and drop 1/4 of the ricotta mixture by spoonfuls — or neatly spread the mixture — on top. Follow with optional ingredients, 1/4 of the Parmesan cheese, and about 1 1/2 tablespoons of tomato sauce, drizzled over the cheese. Continue layering the noodles, ricotta, Parmesan and sauce to yield 4 layers. Top with a final layer of noodles, sauce, and the shredded mozzarella. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned.
Serve hot and enjoy!
Note: You can try substituting varying amounts of different soft cheeses, such as feta cheese, for the ricotta.