There are times when a person needs straight-up, grandma-style, superbly creamy noodle kugel. For those occasions, there is sour cream and butter. Then there are times when a person needs a saucy brisket, and that same person needs a perfect noodle kugel right next to that. And for those times, there is this parve kugel. No margarine, tofu, or other dairy pretenders here: this kugel gets its meltingly delicious texture from a secret ingredient that's both genius and mundane. As all good secret ingredients should be.
This is a wonderfully creamy parve (nondairy, but not vegan) noodle kugel that isn't overly sweet, reheats beautifully (including from the freezer), but really, it's terrific cold, too.
The Secret Ingredient: Crushed Pineapple
If you've ever gone on a paleo bender, or just tried to veganize something creamy, you're no doubt acquainted with true believers in coconut milk. Coconut milk is great, don't get me wrong. I especially like it as a substitute for yogurt in Indian chicken dishes, and just because it's itself in Thai curries. But the whole coconut is the answer to everything nondairy? There's a little problem with that, and it has the distinctive, if at times subtle, flavor of coconut.
Meanwhile, crushed pineapple, though it, too, brings with it a hint of tropical flavor, does textural wonders in this kugel. This is the part where I tell you that my secret ingredient will not impart a strong flavor; in fact, you'll hardly know it's there. Key word: hardly. I side-eye crushed pineapple in things like carrot cake and morning glory muffins, but here it's borderline miraculous. A generous amount of applesauce helps the creaminess along.
Making Mini Kugels
To make the recipe as mini kugels, spoon the batter into two silicone muffin pans, each placed on top of a baking sheet, and bake for 20-25 minutes. Or do what I do and bake half in a square dish for now, half in a silicone muffin pan for freezable mini kugels. The recipe halves just fine, by the way, but that's if you can deal with having half a package of egg noodles and half a can of crushed pineapple to contend with.
One More Thing: Tart Dried Cherries
Tart dried cherries are magic in this kugel, but if you can't find them, raisins of any kind are welcome to the party. (I pick up OU organic tart cherries at Costco.)
And finally: Don't forget to demure when people ask you for the secret. Hold out on them; you know, build some drama. You're setting them up to be pineapple kugel true believers.
Creamy Parve Noodle Kugel
- 1 package medium egg noodles - 12oz / 340g
- 5 eggs
- 2 cups crushed pineapple in juice - 1 large can, 20oz / 570g
- 1 cup applesauce - 1 small jar, or 3 single-serving cups
- ½ cup neutral-flavored oil, such as avocado oil
- ⅓ cup honey - or ½ cup sugar
- ⅔ cup dried tart cherries - raisins or dried cranberries also work
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp sugar
- Preheat oven to 400°F / 200°C and grease a large rectangular baking dish (9"x13" / 22x33cm) or two square baking dishes (8" / 20 cm). (See note on baking mini kugels in a muffin pan.) Set a pot of water to boil.
- Cook the noodles until just softened, 5-7 minutes.
- While the noodles are cooking, whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add the crushed pineapple, applesauce, oil, and sugar and whisk until well combined. Stir in the cherries.
- Drain the noodles and add them to the bowl. Mix well. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
- In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the topping. Sprinkle it evenly over the top of the kugel.
- Bake for about 45 minutes, until the kugel is crisp and golden on top.