The Midwest is well-known for its casserole canon.  You have your hot dish, your noodle ring – the sorts of oven-baked concoctions that appear in starring roles at stock the fridge showers for a second babies in Wisconsin (and seem to make their way into every kitschy portrayal of Midwesterners in film and on television).  It’s a lesser-known fact that Utah also boasts a mean casserole repertoire.  I know, you’re thinking that Utah is known for having lots of one thing…

…Jello.  And you’d be right.  I believe Utah consumes more Jello than the rest of the country put together.  As much as I have tried to disavow it at varying points in my life, I can’t help it; I love me some rainbow Jello cake.  I have made it once, and it was a colossal pain, but so worth it.  The next time I have a free day and am on a sugar binge, I’ll whip one up and show you.  It’s just…wow.  Unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

But we’re here to talk casserole (to dish about casserole? Ouch).  I’m pulled in a casserole way by more than nostalgia.  They are an ideal endeavor for busy people; a little work up front and you can eat well for several servings  (and if the thought of eating lasagna for four consecutive meals makes you ill, they often freeze well).   In some circles, the act of creating one of these baked wonders is called “putting up” a casserole, which I cannot explain linguistically but love and use often.  It’s one of those charming bits of vernacular that you want to snatch up and squeeze for yourself because it hits the ear just right.  Or maybe I just like things that sound vaguely Southern.

Whatever, let’s put up a Passover casserole.

Farfel and Cheese

Serves 8-10

Adapted from Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Kitchen Cookbook

This is absolutely delicious. It is very reminiscent of macaroni and cheese. I like it as-is; John prefers to add ketchup or tabasco. FYI - one large can of farfel is enough for 2 batches.

3 cups farfel
3 egg whites
2 eggs
1 scallon, diced
½ lb cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups milk
1 ½ c nonfat (plain) yogurt
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, whisk one egg and the egg whites with a fork.  Fold in the farfel, stirring well until the mixture is fully combined and there are no dry spots of farfel left.  Stir in the scallion.

Use a bit of butter to grease an 8×8” casserole dish.  Spread the farfel mixture into an even layer.  Using the same bowl you used to mix the farfel, whisk together the milk, yogurt, remaining egg, and about a teaspoon of salt.  Add a few turns of freshly ground pepper.

Cover the farfel mixture with the shredded cheddar cheese in one, even layer. I save time by buying giant bags of shredded cheese at Costco and freezing it into small ziplocks, but you can also often find shredded cheese on sale at the grocery store.  It’s worth stocking up, it freezes very well.


Gently pour the wet ingredients over the cheese, moving your bowl around to make sure you cover every bit of the dish.  If there are any bare spots at this point, use your spatula to smoosh it around until everything is even.  If you like, dot the top of the mixture with bits of butter (though I often forget to do this).  Cover the entire thing with foil and bake, covered, for 30 minutes.

While the casserole bakes, do your dishes!   I hate a messy kitchen, so I always clean as I go.  By reusing the farfel bowl to mix your wet ingredients, you cut down on your big washables by one order of magnitude.  During the time it takes the casserole to do its covered bake session, you can get the rest of the kitchen clean and move on to something important, like eating bits of shredded cheese while no one is looking.


After 30 minutes, remove the foil and bake uncovered until the top is a lovely golden brown – between 20 and 30 minutes.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes outside the oven once it’s done, and serve warm.  I find this reheats very well, both in the microwave and toaster oven.


I must note that I first received this recipe from my copyright professor in law school, the wonderful Jessica Litman (who is an incredible cook, in addition to digital copyright expert extraordinaire).  I mentioned one day after class (I swear there was context, though I can’t recall exactly what it was) that I was just about to finish the conversion process.  Passover was starting in a week, and Professor Litman graciously armed me with several Joan Nathan cookbooks as well as her personal Passover recipe compilation.  Since I obviously hadn’t grown up eating Passover foods, she gave me one family’s take on how to successfully navigate the holiday. I am forever grateful to her for this, not just for the food, but for the support and acceptance.  That first Passover was truly a chag sameach for me.