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For summer, we are taking inspiration from the layers of an Italian lasagna as well as the sweetness of kugel. Lasagna is of course a classic Italian dish. Its creamy, rich filling is a perfect comfort food for the chilly days of fall and winter. In Jewish kitchens, noodle kugel (Lokshen Kugel) makes an appearance several times a year. It is a great dairy option for a Yom Kippur break fast and a favorite for Shavuot when we eat dairy.
These mini sweet summer lasagna-kugels let you take the in-season fruits of summer and layer them between a delicious ricotta filling and pasta. They are great served warm with some grilled fruit for a sweet and light meal at breakfast, lunch or dinner, or they can be enjoyed straight from the fridge for a little after-camp snack or picnic treat. This can be made as a single dish in a large pan or as individual minis in a muffin tin.
Sweet Summer Mini Kugels
1. Begin by cooking and straining the pasta so it has time to cool. Add 1 Tbsp. of sugar and the vanilla into the pasta water and bring it to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente (as noted on the box). If you are using muffin tins for individual kugels, I recommend using the egg noodles because they fit more easily into the cups. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
2. You can use preserves if time is an issue, but this is a perfect way to use up fruit that is becoming a bit overripe or isn’t so pretty anymore and you want to cook with it. In a small saucepan, add the fruit (peel and all is OK) and a tablespoon of water. Cover the pot and cook on medium-low until the fruit softens. Then take the lid off and cook on low until the fruit breaks down into the consistency of a compote or apple sauce.
Fruits with skins like apricots will separate from the skins and you can just pull out the skins from the pot. If you like your kugel to be a bit sweeter, then add some sugar to the mixture a teaspoon at a time to taste.
3. Set the preserves aside in a bowl to cool.
4. In a bowl, mix the ricotta, egg, lemon zest and 2 Tbsp. of sugar. If you are using the egg noodles, once the pasta has cooled, add 1 Tbsp. of the ricotta mixture to the pasta and toss to coat.
5. Now you layer your kugel (like a traditional lasagna). If you are using lasagna noodles, add 1 Tbsp. of the ricotta mixture to the bottom of a 9×9 inch glass baking dish. Then add a layer of noodles, a layer of the ricotta mixture, a layer of fruit, a layer of lasagna noodles and a thin layer of the ricotta on top.
If you are using egg noodles and a muffin tin, put cupcake liners in each spot. Take the noodles that have been tossed with a little of the ricotta mixture and put a thin layer of them on the bottom. Add a layer of ricotta and a layer of fruit. The advantage of muffin tins is that you can do a variety of flavors. I did cherry, raspberry and apricot. Top the fruit with a layer of the egg noodles.
6. Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes for the individual kugels until the top is lightly golden brown. For the larger kugel, cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Cook time depends on how juicy your fruit is. The top will be golden brown and the fruit will bubble up a little when done.
7. For the topping which can be drizzled on top, mix 1/2 cup of sour cream with 1 Tbsp. of sugar. Drizzle over slices at the table.
Serve with a fruit salad or some grilled fruit for a full, fruity, sweet meal.
Chicken is a mainstay in most Jewish homes. We love our chicken stock (homemade or store-bought and doctored will do) for matzah ball soup. You’ll find chopped chicken livers at the holiday table because every family has those who love it among the haters. For Shabbat, a nice roasted chicken kicks off the weekend and the Sabbath. But when you always cook with the same ingredient it is easy to get in a rut. The good news is that it isn’t that hard to get out of it! Just add a little spice. This summer, go Indian with this Indian spiced grilled chicken served with a cilantro mint sauce. For interfaith families with Indian backgrounds, this is a great way to fuse your cultures!
Cilantro Mint Sauce
1. Into a large bowl, grate the ginger. Add the zest and juice of 1 lime, salt, Garam Masala (an Indian spice mix that can be found at most grocery stores) and fennel seeds (I like to buy whole seeds and toast them on a pan on the stove and then crush them with a mortar and pestle). Pour in vegetable oil and mix together.
Toss the chicken into the marinade and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Wash and dry the cilantro and mint. You can use a salad spinner or dry the herbs on a towel. They do not have to be bone dry. In a blender, add the mint, cilantro, shallot cut into quarters, the juice of 1 lime, water, sugar and salt. Puree the mixture.
3. Carefully slice a jalapeño in half, remove the inner seeds and mince the pepper. Stir the tiny pieces of pepper into the sauce.
4. Take the chicken out of the fridge so it can lose some of the chill. Then, pre-heat your grill. Cook the chicken on a medium heat grill until done. Timing varies based on size of the chicken pieces, so just refer to your meat thermometer for doneness. Or, cut into the chicken to see that the meat is opaque and the juices run clear.
Serve with delicious summer vegetables.