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A Lighter Noodle Kugel (Dairy)

May 19, 2013

I love noodle kugels. But they don’t always like me back. Especially when they’re laden with all manner of dairy (read fat-laden) foods. I’ve eaten kugels stuffed with sour cream, cottage cheese, cream cheese, melted butter, eggs, and sometimes a splash (or several) of half and half thrown in for good measure. While I’m eating a piece (or hunk), I’m in heaven. Every forkful of creamy goodness tastes like, as my dear friend Wendy says, “a big hug”. But later, my tush seems to have glued itself to the seat of the chair. Yikes! I can’t move!

Is there a way to lighten this baby up so that we can enjoy kugel every now and then without feeling like a sinking ship? You betcha. It’s good to have a way to make a kugel that won’t weigh you down. Hey, that corny pun just slipped out unintentionally! I seem to do that a lot. One of my odd yet lovable quirks.

Kugels are often served for the Jewish Festival of Shavuot when dairy foods, greens and grains are traditionally eaten. Why greens and grains? To celebrate the spring harvest. Why dairy foods? Because it is said that the Torah (Bible) is as spiritually nourishing  to people as milk is physically nourishing to an infant.

And to the uninitiated who are still with me and scratching their hands, saying, “Koo-gul, Ku-gle? What is that? Is it a Norwegian wooden shoe? As in, “Hey, have you seen my Koo-gels lying around anywhere?

No, dear readers, allow me to explain. Think Bread Pudding. Think Baked French Toast. Now in your mind, swap out the bread for wide egg noodles. That’s better. Now for the pronunciation. Repeat after me. KOO(as in wood)- gull. That’s more like it.

Begin with slightly beaten eggs. Then add cottage cheese and sour cream. A little melted butter/vegetable oil. Some chopped dried fruit and/or raisins. A sprinkle of salt. A splash of vanilla. A couple spoons of sugar – the dried fruit will supply most of the sweetness for you. Mix the noodles up in this wonderful concoction.

noodle kugel - before baking

I just want to dive right into this.

Very Important: Rather than using full-fat ingredients, go for low-fat versions of cottage cheese and sour cream. If you’ve been around this site, you know I love Daisy Light Sour Cream (and no, they didn’t pay me to say that – I just love their product).

low fat cottage cheese

Kugel Goes Healthy

Kugel Goes Healthy

Rather than a heavy topping, use a smaller amount of topping or omit it altogether. I used just a half cup of Panko – Japanese-style bread crumbs that have great crunch – and a tablespoon of butter.

a small amount of topping

When thinking “LIGHT”, think moderation. Portion control is an easy way to lighten up what you eat in a day without feeling deprived. Enjoy, for goodness sakes!! Just cut up that kugel into 16 pieces (or more) instead of 12 pieces (or less). And have you noticed that people tend to eat less when the food is plated instead of having the whole darn baking dish plopped down in front of them? Or place the buffet table as far away from the dining table as you possibly can. Like next door, perhaps? Hmmm….

kugel just out of oven

And as we say in Southern California. “We are SO done!”

baked noodle kugel

A LIGHTER NOODLE KUGEL (DAIRY)

Ingredients:
16 oz. (480 g.) medium or wide egg noodles
4 eggs
1 c. (240 g.) low-fat cottage cheese
1 c. (220 g.) low-fat sour cream
2 T.  butter, melted in baking dish
2 T. canola oil
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. salt
2-3 T. sugar, to your taste
1/2 c. (90 g.) golden raisins (soaked in a bit of apple or white grape juice to just cover, for 20 minutes, then drained)
1/2 c. (90 g.) dried apricots, chopped coarsely
2 T. Panko or bread crumbs (for optional topping)
1 T. butter, cut small – for topping

Directions:

Cook noodles in plenty of boiling salted water according to package directions, until just barely tender. Drain and rinse.

Pre-heat oven to 350°F (180°C). Place 2 T. of butter in large rectangular baking dish (I use a 9″ by 13″ Pyrex dish). Grease bottom and sides of dish with the butter, then place in oven for a few minutes (don’t go anywhere), until just melted. Swirl around in dish to cool a bit and set aside.

Beat eggs in large bowl. Add cottage cheese, sour cream, salt, sugar (start with 2 spoons of sugar, then taste to see if you want a bit more), oil, melted butter and vanilla. Add the noodles to the bowl and toss to thoroughly coat them. (Oh, I’m salivating). Mix in chopped fruit.

Pour into greased baking dish and even out the top. If you like, sprinkle Panko (or bread crumbs) over top. Dot with little pieces of cold butter.

Bake uncovered for 40 minutes, or until set and edges are golden. Serve warm (it’s okay at room temperature but it’s better warm).

bb NOTES:

  • Experiment with dried fruit options. Try cranberries, sour cherries, dark raisins or any combo.
  • Instead of 2 T. melted butter and 2 T. oil, try omitting oil and adding 2 T. milk or half and half.
  • Go the old fashioned way and use 1/2 c. crushed corn flakes to add as a topping.
  • Kugel can be assembled the night before and baked the next day or made a day ahead. It re-heats well. It also freezes well.

P.S. Kugel makes an awesome brunch or pot luck dish.

Makes about 16-18 servings as a small side.

A lighter Noodle Kugel

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