Every Jewish cook needs a tried and true old family favorite Noodle Kugel recipe in her (or his!) back pocket…one that is easy to make and even easier to eat. A Kugel that conjures up either festive Shabbat dinners, or in my case, Sunday dinners with my grandparents.
This dairy Noodle Kugel was my Grandfather’s mother’s recipe and was actually passed down to his wife, my grandmother, and willing non-Jewish cook who took it upon herself to carry on a Spero family tradition. My Grandma Ruth, a woman who fought Polio at the tender age of seven and walked with a brace her entire life, never shied away from a challenge.
Not that this Kugel is challenging mind you. It’s as easy as pie and requires almost no real measuring or concentration. This makes it an A+ dish for any strung out mom…trust me on this one. But the real difficulty was taking on reproducing a family favorite, one that likely would be scrutinized by her husband and could possibly fail to conjure up the taste and feelings that “Mom’s” noodle Kugel would have.
But she did it anyway despite almost ensuing failure and actually managed to perfect it quite well as we all always looked forward to my Grandma’s “noodle pudding” and scraped our plates clean and licked every morsel from our forks. I have to also hand it to my grandfather because I cannot remember even one meal that he EVER compared it to his mother’s Kugel. Wise man.
This creamy and comforting noodle Kugel is now made by my mother (again handed down to a daughter-in-law) at our family dinners and by me for my family. It is creamy from the mix of cheeses and mildly spicy and sweet with a crunch from the Granny Smiths and toasty top layer noodles. It offers up some nutrients with a hefty dose of eggs and some cottage cheese and fruit, and I believe it is a fairly healthy offering for either a side dish at dinner time or as a stand alone brunch dish.
Noodle Kugel can be an acquired taste if you are not familiar with eating a sweet-ish noodle dish, but I fell in love with it at first bite and so did my daughter. It is my hands-down favorite comfort food and that says a lot since I am from a family of exceptional cooks.
I am lucky to have my grandmother’s recipe card and photo hanging in my kitchen. Since I practically live in my kitchen as you all well know, I get to enjoy her presence with every waft from my oven or whir of my mixer and think about all of the happy times spent in her kitchen.
Grandma’s Noodle Kugel
Recipe from Ruth Spero, handed down from Ida Spero
This recipe makes one 5 qrt casserole dish, enough to feed 12 as a side dish
3/4 lb of wide egg noodles
3 T. of butter
3/4 t. salt
12 0z low-fat cottage cheese, small curd (I used 3/4 a container of 16 oz cottage cheese)
3/4 c. low-fat sour cream or nonfat Greek yogurt
3 whole large eggs
2 egg whites
1/2 c. sugar
2 t. cinnamon
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1 c. of raisins
To make the casserole: Put the noodles in a large pot of boiling water until barely tender (al dente). Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 Pyrex dish or 5 quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Drain the noodles and place in casserole dish. Stir the butter and salt into the noodles.
In a mixing bowl, beat together cottage cheese through eggs. Stir egg mixture into noodles. Mix sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and dump into casserole dish and stir. Stir in thinly sliced apples and raisins. Leave uncovered and bake for approximately 45 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Serve warm. This dish reheats well and can be frozen in either a large Ziploc bag or in other freezer storage container.