Classic Noodle Kugel – Made Low FODMAP!
What do you think of when you think of comfort food? Mac n’ cheese? Your grandmother’s chicken soup? Hot and gooey grilled cheese? An ice cream sundae? It really varies person to person and so much has to do with nostalgia, but texture also often plays a role.
Foods that are custardy and can be eaten with a spoon often make the lists. Noodle Kugel is high on the list for many a Jewish child (or grown child). It’s not that you can’t eat noodle kugel if you aren’t Jewish, its just that you have probably never encountered it!
What is Noodle Kugel?
Well, it’s a sweet pasta casserole, except that the word pasta seems so wrong here. Gotta go with noodle. Cooked noodles are combined with sugar, eggs and some dairy. Lots of dairy. Sour cream, cream cheese, farmer’s cheese, butter, cream and/or half-and-half make appearances in recipes that are as different as our own Bubbes and Nanas.
We can find some of these dairy products in lactose-free varieties and others are allowed in small amounts, so a low FODMAP version seemed possible. Sometimes fruit such as apples or dried fruit such as raisins is included. I knew I would leave high FODMAP apples aside, but wanted to include raisins for their yummy chewiness dotted throughout the custard.
Traditionally, noodle kugel is made with flat egg noodles and that’s when I encountered a problem. There are none in our neck of the woods (or online that I can find) that are gluten-free and appropriate for our low FODMAP use.
So, what to do? The closest I could find were the tagliatelle made by Jovial. These are broader than linguine, but narrower than pappardelle – and they do contain egg, so they are an egg pasta. They are also long. Breaking them up as I dropped them into boiling water was the best solution.
Our Kugel Recipe Is Different
See this image below? This is my life in the Test Kitchen. Most recipes that I develop begin in my head. I cannot explain it. All I can tell you is that recipes and concept for recipes pop into my head, sometimes when I am conscious and sometimes during dreaming. I can taste ingredients and combinations in my mind, and my knowledge of how foods will interact comes from years of experience.
But every now and then I have to hit the books, which is what happened with this kugel. I made an initial version and it was painfully clear that gluten-free noodles were not absorbing the dairy and eggs in the same way that traditional egg noodles do, so the ratio of everything was thrown off.
Just Call Me A Reference Librarian
In situations like this I turn to trusted sources and make a chart (see below). This is not always an easy task. Going onto the Internet and looking up “noodle kugel” is what you don’t do, at least not in isolation. Here’s why. Anyone can throw a recipe up on the internet – but that doesn’t mean it will work and this is because most people do not know how to put a recipe through its paces in a structured way so that they know what is working, what isn’t and what needs to be changed. This is when I turn to my library.
I have over 2000 cookbooks and before you call me a hoarder you must understand that these are some of the tools of my trade. I pull out books by authors I know, often personally, sometimes by reputation, and I make a chart. What are, in this case Jewish food experts like Joan Nathan and Gil Marks, saying? How do they make their kugels?
Common approaches begin to take shape and become clear. And then I apply what I have learned in early tests on my own because, after all, I am using gluten-free noodles and lactose-free dairy which all act differently than the traditional ingredients used. But at least I begin to establish a framework. I told Robin, this recipe was a thorn in my side and it took several tries!
Many things were learned that were contrary to original beliefs. For instance, usually when you know you are going to be baking noodles, you boil them very al dente initially because you know they will be cooked again. In this recipe, that didn’t work at all. The noodles need to be very well cooked initially in order for them to properly meld with the eggs and dairy.
So, our ratios might look different from ones you have seen in other recipes, but trust me, this is what works with the GF noodles and lactose-free dairy. This is one of those recipes where if you change any of the ingredients, the results will be thrown off negatively, but if you follow the recipe you will be rewarded with a luscious noodle kugel that your Nana (real or figurative) would be proud of. Enjoy the results of our hard labor!
This is fabulous alongside our Garlic & Herb Roast Leg of Lamb.
Low FODMAP Noodle Kugel
Our Low FODMAP Noodle Kugel is based on lactose-free dairy products and you are going to love the sweet, creamy kugel - it's just like the classic rendition.
Makes 24 servings
- 24 ounces (680 g) low FODMAP gluten-free tagliatelle, such as Jovial brand
- Kosher salt
- 3/4 cup (125 g) raisins
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 pound (455 g) lactose-free cottage cheese
- 2/3 cup (131 g) sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus extra
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pound (455 g) lactose-free sour cream
- Position rack in lower third of oven or near the middle. Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Coat the inside of a 13 x 9-inch (33 cm x 23 cm) casserole dish with nonstick spray; set aside.
- Bring a very large pot of salted water to a boil. Add noodles, crushing them with your hands into smaller pieces as you drop them into the water. Cook noodles, stirring frequently, until a little softer than al dente. Add raisins to boiling water during the last couple of minutes of cooking; this way you plump your raisins simultaneously! Drain and immediately place noodles and raisins back in the hot pot with the butter and toss to coat until butter is melted.
- While the pasta, I mean noodles, are cooking, place eggs, cottage cheese, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon salt in blender and pulse on and off until blended. Add sour cream and pulse on and off just until incorporated.
- Pour your custard mixture over the noodles and fold together to coat well, then scrape into prepared pan. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon.
- Bake for about 30 to 40 until custard is set and the top and edges are lightly browned. Cool casserole on rack for at least 10 minutes before serving. Noodle kugel is great warm or at room temperature. Try it as a side dish to our Roast Leg of Lamb or even alongside a weeknight Roast Chicken.