I didn’t grow up eating kugel. Ok, maybe let me rephrase that.
My grandmother made noodle kugel, but it was almost always dried out and as a kid I was usually too scared to actually eat it. Thankfully I married into a family with an arsenal of great kugel recipes including my husband’s grandmother’s Salt and Pepper Noodle Kugel and his mother’s Cakey Crunch Sweet Potato Kugel. And now I really love kugel, and have been trying my hand at making kugel more and more.
For the last few weeks, green has been everywhere, especially in the abundance of springtime vegetables at the farmer’s markets and grocery store. And as I have been watching the spring veggies arrive, I was trying to imagine how to incorporate the flavors of Spring into kugel.
Zucchini kugel is delicious by itself, but add some fresh, bright herbs like basil and mint, and you have an updated dish perfect for Spring. If basil and mint doesn’t quite appeal to your taste buds, you could also use fresh parsley for a more subtle flavor.
Note: after sauteing the zucchini, make sure to drain as much liquid out as possible. If there is too much liquid in the zucchini, the kugel will turn out a mushy mess.
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5 medium zucchini
salt and pepper
2 tsp fresh lemon zest
1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup matzo meal
1/2 Tbsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
Using a spiralizer or vegetable peeler, make long noodles out of zucchini.
Heat 1-2 Tbsp olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Saute zucchini in batches for 3-4 minutes each until soft and slightly translucent. Add a pinch of salt and pepper with each batch.
Place the cooked zucchini in a colander and drain excess liquid. Make sure to squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a 9x13 baking dish, add another 2 Tbsp olive oil to the dish and place in the oven to heat up while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
In a large bowl whisk the eggs with mint, basil, salt, pepper and matzo meal. Add zucchini and stir gently until completely mixed.
After oil has heated in pan around 5-10 minutes, add zucchini mixture to pan. Using a spatula or the back of a spoon smooth out top.
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until edges are crispy and the kugel is set in the middle. You may need to drain off excess oil and liquid and place back into the oven for additional 5-10 minutes.
Once kugel has cooked through, remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting. Serve at room temperature or warm.
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While looking at cooked spaghetti squash one day and noticing its remarkable likeness to its namesake, spaghetti, I was inspired to experiment with a noodle kugel. I researched classic recipes for a “yerushalmi kugel” calling for caramelized sugar using 2 cups of oil and two cups of sugar, in addition to eggs. At first I attempted it, but seeing all that oil and sugar in the pan, I couldn’t bare to expose my beautiful and healthful squash to such a fatty fate and decided to experiment starting with just a teaspoon of sugar and a few tablespoons of oil. To my surprise and delight, the kugel came out light, fluffy and delicious.
To cook the spaghetti squash, follow these directions which I love. I hope you enjoy this healthy alternative!
3 cups shredded spaghetti squash
3 large eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp sugar
¼ cup matzah meal
¼ cup canola oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all ingredients except for the oil.
Pour oil into a 9x12 pan and place in preheated oven for 5 minutes.
Pour squash mixture into hot oil and bake for 45 minutes.
Remove kugel from oven and pour off excess oil.
If the kugel is still too watery, bake out some of the moisture before serving.
When I first tasted the delicious, and later ubiquitous, butternut squash kugel, I thought I was eating something healthy. However, there is a reason it tasted like cake: It was cake.
My Shabbat host readily admitted that that kugel was full of flour, sugar and oil. That was many years ago. Since then, some version of a squash kugel (whether made from sweet potatoes, butternut squash or pumpkin), has graced most Shabbat tables at which I have had the pleasure of eating, including my own. I never could bring myself to make the classic cake-like recipe. Instead, for years I used a Hungry Girl recipe that called for egg beaters and artificial sweetener. As I no longer eat animal products or artificial sweeteners, I had to come up with my own healthy alternative.
I don’t think you’ll find an easier recipe that can be made so quickly and for a crowd. Plus, you can practice your inner Martha Stewart and decorate individual ceramic crocks, as I’ve done here, or one large serving dish.
Cooking tip: if you want to play with the servings, figure that you will use 1 small sweet potato per person or 1 large sweet potato for every two people. In addition, you will want 1 Tablespoon of maple syrup per large sweet potato.
4 large sweet potatoes, cooked until completely soft
¼ cup maple syrup
½ cup-1 cup dried cherries or cranberries
½ cup-1 cup pecans
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Peel the well-cooked sweet potatoes. If they were cooked earlier, re-heat them for 2 minutes in the microwave in a glass or ceramic dish.
Using a food processor, whip the sweet potatoes and the maple syrup until light and fluffy. You can also use an immersion blender for this step.
Place the mixture into individual ceramic crocks or 1 large serving dish and smooth out the
top. Decorate with dried cherries and pecans.
Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Serve warm.
I didn’t grow up eating kugel regularly. My only exposure to kugel was on the one or two times a year we would all gather around my grandmother’s dining room table for Jewish holidays. My grandmother would serve two kinds of kugel which she would describe as “one sweet, one savory.” I would more aptly describe them as “dry and drier.”
When I was in college and dating “a nice Jewish boy” his mother made an incredible dairy noodle kugel with crushed pineapple, butter and sour cream. Now THAT was kugel. I was in love. And when I met my husband and his family, I fell in love with his Baba Billie’s salt and pepper noodle kugel.
Like everything Baba Billie made, this kugel is not for the faint-hearted, or faint-stomached. This is not a light recipe, but it is good. You may look at the amount of oil and think, come on – really? Yes, really. I don’t make this every day, nor do I suggest making it every day. We make it a few times each year always to rave reviews. Everything in moderation, or so my father always says, and this kugel is no exception.
My husband likes to use regular wide noodles, but I opt for the super-duper extra wide. You can use either variety you like.
Like a little kick? Make sure to use hot paprika on top. If you prefer to play to it safe just use a sweet, smoky paprika instead.
1 12 ounce package of wide or extra wide egg noodles
2 Tbsp jarred garlic
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3-4 Tbsp olive oil
Special equipment: Pyrex baking dish
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. When oven is heated, add 3-4 heaping Tbsp of olive oil to baking dish and place pan in oven for the oil to heat. This step will make for a crispier kugel.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook noodles as directed on package, around 7-8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
While noodles are cooking, whisk together eggs, garlic, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
Add cooked noodles to egg mixture and mix gently until completely coated. Remove baking dish with hot oil from the oven and add noodles to the dish. It will sizzle slightly - this is a good thing.
Sprinkle top with paprika. Bake for 40 minutes uncovered or until noodles are desired crispiness. Serve warm or room temperature.
Most of my favorite recipes use wholesome, healthful ingredients that are local and seasonal. I don’t buy a lot of processed products or packaged snacks. I truly enjoy making things from scratch.
But once in awhile I find a recipe or a product that I simple cannot resist. Oreo cookies. Entenmanns’s Cheese Danish Twist. And most recently a sweet potato kugel my mother-in-law made last year using sweet potatoes, marshmallows and a box of cake mix.
My sister-in-law and I sat at one end of the long kitchen table with two heaping platefuls of the addictive kugel, unable to prevent ourselves from eating yet another serving.
Soon after the sweet potato kugel binge, I fell asleep with my daughter upstairs for a full hour and a half. Forget the turkey-induced snooze fest…my kugel nap was just divine.
I convinced my mother-in-law to hand over the recipe, and with just a few small tweaks, I share it with you all. But I warn you: there is no going back. Make this at your own risk. You may not be able to put down your fork.
8 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
3-4 heaping Tbsp brown sugar
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ cup orange juice or orange-flavored liqueur
8 oz mini marshmallows
1 box yellow cake mix
2 sticks margarine or butter, melted
Boil sweet potatoes in large pot of water until tender, around 20-25 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Drain the sweet potatoes and mash in a large bowl. Add vanilla, brown sugar, nutmeg, salt and orange juice or orange-flavored liqueur and mix well.
Grease a 9x11 baking dish. Layer half of the sweet potato mixture evenly in the baking dish.
Sprinkle marshmallows over the top. Add remaining sweet potato mixture on top of marshmallows and spread evenly using an off-set spatula or knife.
Sprinkle yellow cake mix evenly over the top of sweet potato mixture. Pour melted butter or margarine evenly over the top of the cake mix.
Bake for 60 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
This recipe comes to us from Rivka at NotDerbyPie. Rivka is a native Washingtonian, back in her home town after stints in Manhattan and Jerusalem. Food is “merely” a hobby for her — she’s a consultant during the day — but she writes and photographs food beautifully, and she’s the author of some of our favorite and most popular recipes. Here she gives us a recipe for carrot kugel, adapted from everyone’s favorite sisterhood cookbook, “Second Helpings, Please.” Theirs is a year-round recipe (who doesn’t love a little carrot kugel after a long day at work?) but Rivka only makes it on Passover, and has adapted it to be both Passover friendly and slightly more delicious.
1 cup matzah cake meal
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 1/4 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup melted butter or canola oil
Preheat oven to 325F and set a rack in the center of the oven.
Butter and flour an 8" square baking pan.
Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
In a smaller bowl, combine eggs, oil, lemon juice, and carrots.
Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir until the two are combined and no lumps of flour remain. Transfer batter into the prepared baking pan, and smooth the top with a spatula.
Bake for 45 minutes; when done, kugel should spring back when touched.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
For years I lived a dark Potato Kugel-less existence. For some reason my mom never made it when I was a kid, and it wasn’t until high school that I experienced the true starchy joy of potato kugel. It’s a great side dish for any Shabbat meal, particularly in the winter, but for some reason it tastes particularly good on Pesach. And like the best Pesach foods, potato kugel has a simple but very rich flavor. Should you eat it every day? Definitely not. Should you have it right next to brisket on your plate during the seder? Absolutely.
And now, the only Potato Kugel recipe you’ll ever need…
Sometimes at the end of a long day I just want to go home and watch a nice looking man make me a kugel. My boyfriend’s out of town tonight, so I guess it’s just me and Dave Lieberman and some egg noodles. I might even go crazy and try making this.