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Healthy Kugel Makeover: Reinventing Bubbe’s Traditional Kugel

“My recipes are designed to duplicate the richness in flavor and texture of the original dishes, but without the unhealthy obvious sweeteners.”
[additional-authors]
April 14, 2023
Photo courtesy Sherry Klinger

Lokshen kugel has been around for generations. 

This version from amateur chef Eric Dolgin is the perfect comfort food for spring, after Passover ends. A practicing physician by day, Dolgin wanted to create a healthy-style kugel worthy of his Bubbe’s sweet-custardy recipe.

“My extreme makeover of the noodle dish was designed to retain all of the gooey-goodness, but rely on rarely used, healthy ingredients,” Dolgin told the Journal.

Dolgin figured he could modernize the old world Jewish dish, and keep it gluten-free, by using almond noodles. To ensure the gooey goodness of traditional kugel, while improving the nutritional value, he decided to boil the almond noodles in naturally sweetened non-dairy milks. 

The chef’s three-berry sweet-style kugel dish incorporates many of his bubbe’s favorite ingredients, such as a multitude of eggs, along with vanilla, cinnamon and rum-soaked raisins. His mushroom kugel recipe has a similar base, and is a delicious savory version.

When asked about his artisanal approach to kugel, Dolgin emphasized the importance of handing down age-old traditions through the centuries.

“My recipes are designed to duplicate the richness in flavor and texture of the original dishes, but without the unhealthy obvious sweeteners,” Dolgin said. “It’s obvious to a health-minded chef that organically produced whole foods bring more than just sweetness to a recipe.”

Photo courtesy Sherry Klinger

Three-Berry Kugel

2 packages of Capellas almond noodles
2 cans coconut milk
2 cans coconut cream
1/4 cup plain, unsweetened almond milk
1 dropper liquid stevia
1 cup rum soaked white or red raisins
6 eggs, beaten
1 orange and 1 lemon, zested
3 Tbsp maple syrup (sweeten
to taste)
½ cup toasted pecans, chopped
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp nutmeg
selection of 3 berries: 1 carton each:
blueberries, blackberries and
raspberries (feel free to vary the type
and amount of berries)
Butter or oil a large (appox 13 x 9) casserole dish.
Put the raisins and rum in a small pan and heat them over a low flame until hydrated.
Pour the coconut milk and cream in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Add ¼ cup almond milk, if necessary for desired consistency.
Pour cooked noodles and coconut liquid into a casserole dish together (nothing goes to waste).
Allow the mixture to cool (don’t shortcut cooling time or eggs could scramble).
Mix together beaten eggs, maple syrup, stevia, spices, zest, and raisins with rum liquid for hydrating raisins.
Pour mixture over the noodles, but do not mix them yet.
Pour the berries on top of the noodle/liquid mixture.
Gently mix in all ingredients with a gloved hand.
Cook at 350°F for 40 minutes. Then cover with a foil tent and cook for another 15 minutes until the middle appears cooked.
Perfect for preparing a day ahead of the Seder. Ingredients will taste even more flavorful!

Mushroom Kugel

1.5 packages of Capella’s almond noodles
2 packages of mushrooms or equivalent
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 can coconut cream
1 can coconut milk
4-8 oz. plain, unsweetened almond milk
3 eggs
1-2 oz dry sherry
1 Tbsp and 1 1/2 tsp Mushroom bullion
½ tsp salt
1 tsp thyme
2 Tbsp parsley
¼ tsp fresh nutmeg
½ tsp onion powder
Garlic to taste; I use 2-3 cloves, minced
and sautéed

Grease an 8 x 11 inch baking dish.
Sauté thinly sliced mushrooms in olive oil (add dry sherry to finish).
Pour coconut milk and cream in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil. Cook the noodles and add almond milk, if necessary.
Pour cooked noodles and cooking liquid in casserole dish
Allow noodles and liquid to cool; do not shortcut the cooling process. Pour coconut milk/cream into a large mixing bowl.
Blend bouillon, remaining almond milk, coconut milk/cream cooking liquid and sherry until dissolved. Add salt, seasonings, pepper and eggs. Then buzz again in the blender until mixed.
Add 1 cup of mushrooms in the blender with the above liquid and buzz on low speed until the mushrooms are in small pieces (~ 2 mm).
Once noodles and liquid are cooled (to avoid cooking the eggs), pour liquid from the blender over the noodles.
Gently fold in the remaining mushrooms with the liquid and noodles in the casserole dish.
Bake at 350°F for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown.

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