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Potato kugel is always a hit at holiday meals. Traditionalists enjoy simple potato kugel like their grandmothers used to make, but even so there are debates about whether the kugel should be crunchy and light or soft and compressed. This particular version has a pumpkin custard-like topping and is a mix of sweet and savory. You end up with a little crunch around the edges and a soft filling in the middle. It also lends itself to experimentation—add cumin or za’atar for Middle Eastern flavors, or turmeric or garam masala for an Indian-inspired version.
Potato and Pumpkin Kugel
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Peel onion and potatoes and coarsely grate with a box grater over a clean kitchen towel. (Here, I used 3 small potatoes as one large potato.)
3. Over the sink or a bowl, squeeze the towel of grated mixture as hard as you can to extract as much liquid as possible.
4. Add 2 ½ Tbsp. oil to a deep pie plate. Put the plate in the oven to heat.
5. Add onion and potato mixture to a bowl. Sprinkle with starch, salt and ½ tsp. pepper.
6. Make a well in the middle of the mixture and crack one egg into it. Beat the egg with a fork and mix well.
7. Remove the pie plate from the oven, scooping out ½ Tbsp. hot oil. Set aside.
8. With a fork, add the potato mixture to the pie plate. Build up the sides of the pie plate to form a crust. (If you like lots of crunchy potato, make your sides wide.) Drizzle remaining hot oil on top.
9. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until edges begin to brown.
10. Mix pumpkin purée with evaporated milk. Add remaining eggs, cinnamon and sugar.
11. With a measuring cup or ladle, pour pumpkin mixture into potato pie until it reaches the top of the potato edges. (Any extra mixture can be used to make sweet pumpkin flan!)
12. Add remaining ½ tsp. pepper and additional spice, if using, to pumpkin mixture, stirring lightly with a fork to prevent overflow.
13. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. If the edges begin to get too dark, cover with foil; the moisture from the pumpkin should help it stay crisp.
14. To make sweet pumpkin flan, add 3 Tbsp. sugar to leftover pumpkin mixture. Pour into oven-safe ramekins and bake for 30 minutes.
15. After removing kugel from oven, let cool slightly and serve with sour cream.
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.
Some people have strong feelings about the kind of recipe that aims to create a Passover-friendly version of a dish that is typically leavened. Detractors think creating Passover bagels, muffins, and rolls miss the point of the holiday’s specific diet. Those in favor see the practice as helping to make a difficult holiday more bearable. Some will even point to foods like Passover Popovers as an example of Jewish ingenuity.
Personally, I fall somewhere in the middle. I don’t see the point suffering through a week of “I can’t believe you want to call this a bagel.” (But hey, if you can convince yourself that whatever you’ve come up with tastes like a bagel, more power to you. I’ll have eggs for breakfast this week.) On the other hand, when the introduction of matzah into a dish creates a delightful new twist on an old favorite, I’m all for it.
This brings us to Matzah Kugel, a sweet, dairy-filled confection of matzah layered with sweetened cheese. Sure, you could make a kugel with Passover noodles and come up with an almost-but-not-quite-satisfying proxy for the regular version, but you will never forget that it’s not the “real” thing. Matzah kugel, on the other hand, takes the idea of a noodle kugel as a jumping off point and transforms it into something different but equally delicious.
This dish can function as a side dish or a main course. (It pairs well with a side salad and a piece of gefilte fish.) You can freeze leftover portions: they reheat well in the microwave and even make a delicious and quick breakfast when you just can’t take one more piece of matzah with cream cheese.
Cheese Matzah Kugel for Passover
2. Add cottage cheese, salt, sugar, cinnamon, and butter and mix to combine thoroughly.
3. Grease an 8 inch square baking dish with butter.
4. Arrange half of the matzah so that it covers the bottom of the dish.
5. Pour half of the cheese mixture over it. Repeat with balance of the matzah and cheese mixture. If you wish, sprinkle additional cinnamon and sugar over the top of the kugel.
6. Bake at 350°F for 40 minutes or until set.