According to one of Sholem Aleichem’s tales, Tevye the Dairyman praises his wife’s cooking. Noodle kugel is one of them. He claims that if you tasted her noodle kugel you would learn the meaning of paradise on earth. Good kugel ranks among life’s best pleasures, at least where I hail from. Anyhow, I promised a spinach ricotta kugel recipe would follow. So here it is. Despite the stereotypical delusions some of you may have of me, I don’t run a typical Jewish household. That doesn’t mean that I don’t tend to my chores of keeping the house clean and making sure that hubby has something to put in his belly after a long arduous day of work. I mean to say that I don’t cook and serve the “typical Jewish food”. I know kugel is one of them but a dairy kugel usually stands out of what’s considered to be traditional.
As hard as I try to fuse traditional food with contemporary culinary delights, sometimes my efforts prove to be futile so I don’t often bother. Plus my adventurous side and curiosity (a dangerous combination) gets the better of me and I am always eager to try something new. You can only make potato kugel in so many different ways but there is always a variety of dairy kugel recipes; most of which are sweet. Modernizing kugel is one way to make the dish more appealing to the generation of younger men and women who like to avoid what they consider heavy, fatty, old-fashioned Jewish dishes and are unafraid of new ingredients and flavors like yours truly. This time, I present to you a spinach ricotta kugel recipe which serves well with fish and a glass of white wine. I used frozen spinach and onions but you can add any vegetables you want. I thought about throwing in some mushrooms but they were nowhere within my reach.
For this recipe, you will need:
- 8 oz of egg noodles or fine noodles
- 2 cups of low-fat or skim ricotta cheese
- 2 cups of plain low or non-fat yogurt
- 1 cup of skim shredded cheese divided
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 lbs package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained well
- 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped basil
- 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne or chili powder
- Salt and pepper for taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook noodles until “al dente” and rinse with hot water and drain well. Set aside. In the meantime, saute onions in a cast iron skillet over medium heat till translucent. Add garlic and saute for another two minutes. Add spinach and saute for 5-7 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, yogurt, and a 1/2 cup of shredded cheese. Add noodles, herbs and vegetables and mix well. Season with salt pepper, and chili powder. Transfer mixture to a greased 9″ X 13″ baking dish. Sprinkle top with the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and paprika. Bake for 45 minutes until hot and bubbly.
Yields 4-6 servings