January 23, 2012

Oodles of Noodles

Kale Kugel "Cake" Topped with Lemon Butter Crumbs

During those quick grocery trips just before Christmas, when picking up a few exciting cans of tuna to tear into, I also picked up some egg noodles and a few odds and ends in the dairy section. I had these grandiose ideas of cooking, writing about and celebrating both Christmas and Hannukah with everyone. Then it just became a Christmas dish I hoped to cook and write about, and then I thought New Years would be fine, and then, well, I figured just a quick post that detailed my good friend Lauren's recipes for household cleaning supplies would have to do. Finally, after everything came and went, I just closed my eyes and told myself everyone was probably sick of eating, no one feels like cleaning anymore, and next year was a brand new start...

Well, egg noodle inspiration has finally hit, and behold, I finally got it together and made one good looking kugel. I do not keep a Kosher kitchen, therefore it is not really Kosher, and I am also sure my mix of food items does not qualify it as acceptable for religious reasons, but if you can put all that aside, I still tastes (and looks! And smells!) pretty darn good. The top is nicely crisped from a buttery lemon crumb topping I came up with at the last minute, with hits of heat from the tiny flecks of pepper flakes also thrown in on a whim. Once you remove the springform pan the dark, leafy kale in the middle is visible, and really makes a beautiful presentation. It also offers a nice opposing taste to the soft creamy, custardy noodles, and just the leafy green roughage you need to make this a satisfying meal. (For the Gentiles out there, a kugel is a traditional Jewish side dish or dessert. It can be a casserole or pudding-like, and made from egg noodles or potatoes, or whatever you have hanging around or leftover. It has more variations than one can imagine, so I figured, what's one more take on it?)

Definitely a meal easy enough to put together on a weeknight, but also very appetizing and appealing to serve a weekend or holiday crowd.


Kale Kugel "Cake" with Lemon Butter Crumbs
*1/2 cup chicken broth
*3/4 cup sour cream
*3 whole eggs
*2 oz cream cheese, optional (any amount, any small chunk you may have around, will do)
*1 1/2 12 oz. package of egg noodles, the wide size
*1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
*1 lb. kale, rinsed, dried and roughly chopped
*2 Tbsp butter
*1 clove garlic, chopped
*salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350º. Butter a 9 1/2 inch springform pan or a 9x13 dish.

Cook the noodles according to package directions in boiling, salted water. Remove from stove, drain and let cool.

While the noodles are cooking, whisk together the 3 whole eggs with the chicken broth in a large bowl. Stir in the sour cream, the cream cheese if using, 3/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese and about 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper until well combined and creamy. When cool, add the noodles to the egg and cheese mixture and mix to thoroughly coat. If you'd like a creamier, cheesier dish, you can add more Parmesan to the mixture at this point.

Melt 2 Tbsp of butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the kale and stir to even cook and wilt, about 2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt, as well as the chopped garlic. Take off stove while kale is still bright green and before garlic begins to burn, 1-2 minutes more. Remove from stove and set aside.

To arrange the kugel, pour half of the bowl of creamy noodles into the buttered springform pan. Top with the kale, and pour the remaining noodles on top. Sprinkle on the remaining Parmesan cheese and then top the entire cake with the lemon butter crumbs (see recipe below).

Bake, uncovered, for 35 minutes or until top is crispy and golden.

Lemon Butter Crumbs
*1-2 large Matzo crackers (flour and water variety best), or 3 Tbsp crackers of your choice
*1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
*2 Tbsp butter, unsalted
*1 tsp (or more for a zestier flavor) lemon zest

Crumble Matzo crackers with your hands, crush crackers in a ziplock bag using a rolling pin or process and pulse quickly in a food processor (try for larger crumbs, they remain intact when sautéed and provide a nice crunch; a fine crumb mixture doesn't really add much to the dish). Using the same pan the kale was cooked in, melt 2 Tbsp butter over medium heat until foaming. Heat the cracker crumbs in the butter for 1-2 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the heat and mix in the lemon zest and red pepper flakes. Sprinkle evenly on top of the kugel, or save and use on top any of your favorite noodle or casserole dishes.  


Mellissa @ IbreatheI'mhungry said...

This looks really delicious! I love kale and the lemon butter crumbs sound like they would really add a tasty crunchiness. I am pinning this to my "I am SO making this board!" Great idea! And welcome back! :)

dahall said...

YUMMY!! I am so going to try this!