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Spinach Ricotta Challah


Recipe provided through Masbia’s Emergency Trailer Drive. See below for details.   Since this is a dairy challah, it doesn’t usually find itself on my Shabbat table. However, if you ever have some extra challah dough, I highly recommend using it to make this challah. Try it for seudah shlishit, the third Shabbat meal, in the summer months!   The creamy ricotta with the savory crunch of the pine nuts and the beautiful green of the spinach and the basil come together to make the most spectacular challah filling, and the gorgeous braiding technique shown here brings it all together in the most perfect way.   P.S. This is also a great challah idea for the holiday of Shavuot or Chanukah, when it is traditional to eat dairy foods.


Prepare the Challah

Yield: fills one large criss-cross challah

1. Prepare pine nuts by toasting them in a dry frying pan for approximately five minutes, or until just beginning to brown and be fragrant.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the spinach, ricotta, cornmeal or flour, oregano, thyme, chopped fresh basil, pressed garlic, and toasted pine nuts. Reserve a few pine nuts for garnish. Gently stir to incorporate all ingredients.
3. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Mix gently.
5. When challah has been stuffed and braided, top with egg glaze and sprinkle with reserved pine nuts. Place on greased or lined baking sheet.
6. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25–30 minutes, or until top of challah is golden brown.
7. Garnish with extra basil leaves before serving.


Halachic note: The main hamotzi blessing for the meal should not be recited on this challah, as it is considered a “filled challah.”

For Shavuot Butter Challah (optional)

This recipe yields 6–8 challahs. To prepare half the recipe, see the variation below.

1. In a large bowl, pour the very warm water. Add the sugar and then the yeast. Allow a few minutes for the yeast to bloom.
2. Add the first of the flour and all of the salt and mix until a smooth batter forms.
3. Add the eggs, melted butter, and vanilla and stir again until smooth.
4. Gradually add the remaining flour, mixing with your hands or stand-mixer until the flour has fully incorporated into the dough. Be sure to add only as much flour as is needed to form a non-sticky workable dough.
5. Turn the dough out onto a hard surface and knead for about 10 minutes or until the dough springs back when lightly touched.
6. Pour three to four teaspoons of oil into the bowl.  Turn the ball of dough around in the oil until the outer layer of the dough has been thinly coated.
7. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a warm, damp dishcloth and place in a warm spot to rise.
8. Allow the dough to rise for one and 1/2 to two hours, until dough has doubled in size.
9. If you are making the full recipe, separate challah with a blessing. If you are making half the recipe, separate challah without a blessing. (Read more about hafrashat challah here.)
10. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
11. Divide the dough and braid or shape the challahs. (See above. Editor’s note: since the challah is dairy, it should be shaped distinctively. Read more on halachic considerations for bread.) Place shaped challahs on lined baking sheets.
12. After braiding, brush each challah with the desired glaze and/or topping.
13. Allow challahs to rise for an additional 30–45 minutes.
14. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30–40 minutes. The challah is ready when its underside is brown and it sounds hollow when tapped.


To half the recipe, use 2 cups water, 3/4 cup sugar, 4 and 1/2 teaspoons yeast, 3 cups plus 3 – 4 and 1/2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon sea salt, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Yields three large challahs.


This recipe is provided through Masbia’s Emergency Trailer Drive. Masbia Soup Kitchen Network’s COVID-19 Relief Mobilization started in the beginning of March and is battling this historic food crisis with 500% more emergency food than before the outbreak. At the current rate, over twelve tractor trailer loads are given out every single week to the people standing on those unprecedented breadlines. Please consider sponsoring food during this historic food emergency.   Reprinted with permission from RISING: The Book of Challah. Photography by Monica Pinto.