Kugel is a Jewish-style casserole, usually made either from noodles or potatoes, served as a traditional side dish to festive meals. Kugels can be sweet or savory, but are rarely gluten-free owing to their content of either egg noodles (for sweet noodle kugels) or flour (to bind potato kugels).
My grandma Mary was a terrific baker, and I used to love her almost-sweet, slightly tangy, cinnamon-y noodle kugel; to me, it was at its best straight out of the pan from the refrigerator, as the cold temperature helped keep the layered concoction stay tightly bound into lovely squares of kugel perfection. Now that I have children of my own, I love sharing these family recipes with them. It's like giving them a taste of my own childhood.
Since I was already planning to adjust my Grandma's recipe for gluten content so that I could actually eat it, I figured I might as well take down the lactose content as well so that all the digestively-deranged people in my extended family could enjoy it, too.
Finding gluten-free egg noodles is easy nowadays; all the big kosher food companies sell them around Passover time, and you can get them online year-round as well.
Since Grandma used cottage cheese in her kugel (some grandmas prefer Farmer’s Cheese, but to each her own), I swapped in Lactaid's easy-to-find lowfat, lactose-free version. She also used milk (low-fat, lactose-free versions easily available) and sour cream, which I decided to swap out for an equivalent amount of fat-free plain Greek Yogurt since it’s higher in protein, very low in lactose and shaves off 5g of fat from the original recipe. (Lactose free sour cream is also available, marketed by Green Valley Organics, to whom I serve as a consulting dietitian.)
My gluten-free, modernized version is a terrific success. I've served it to guests in my home, brought it to my Rabbi's house for a potluck dinner, and even made a rainbow-colored version to serve passers-by for our town's annual Pride march. Who doesn't love a kugel?
Grandma Mary’s Noodle Kugel
- 8 oz egg noodles (for gluten-free, use Manischewitz Gluten free egg noodles or Gefen Gluten Free Wide Noodles-- but note they come in 12oz packages)
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 2 TBSP sugar
- 1 lb (16oz) low fat cottage cheese (use Lactaid brand if desired)
- 2 TBSP fat-free, plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup lowfat milk (use lactose-free if desired)
- Raisins to taste (optional)
- “Pinch of cinnamon” (I use more than a pinch, but you can sprinkle to taste)
- Large pinch of salt
- 2 TBSP butter, diced
- Cook noodles according to package directions in salted water. Drain well.
- In a large bowl, combine drained noodles with all ingredients. Your mixture will be very liquidy/soupy, but worry not! It comes together nicely during baking.
- Transfer mixture to a greased 9″ x 13″ casserole dish/baking pan.
- Bake at 325 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until kugel is firm in texture and slightly golden brown on top. (Baking times vary by oven; mine took a good 65 minutes to be done.)
- For best results, cool completely and refrigerate overnight. The cold will allow the egg/dairy proteins to firm up and hold your kugel together into a nice, coherent, sliceable casserole. Cut the kugel when cold into squares and then if desired, reheat the squares in a microwave. (You can also serve them cold–still tastes great.) Of course, the kugel will still taste divine if you serve the whole thing warm from the oven, but it won’t look as pretty since the slices will come apart more easily.