Sweet and savory kugel recipes

  • Mazzagna Verde.

    Mazzagna Verde. Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post

 
Posted4/9/2019 11:54 AM

Mazzagna Verde

This tender vegetarian kugel is fitting for Seder -- or anytime during Passover -- and easy to prepare, with layers of creamy cheeses and early season sauteed greens. (If you strictly observe Passover dietary laws, you may need to make adjustments in your choice of cheeses.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The unbaked kugel can be covered in plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 1 day in advance; remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before baking.

1 pound spinach or Swiss chard, stemmed (may substitute stinging nettles; see note)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

1 tablespoon unsalted butter or pareve butter substitute

1 medium onion, chopped

Kosher or sea salt

4 cloves garlic, minced

Freshly ground white pepper

2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese

2 large eggs, beaten

1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 1/2 cups whole milk

6 sheets egg matzo (7 ounces total)

3 ounces taleggio or Fontina cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/4 cup grated pecorino-Romano cheese

Clean and stem the spinach and chard. If using the latter, thinly slice half the stems crosswise, and reserve the rest for another use. Discard spinach or nettle stems. Chop the spinach or chard into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces.

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Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil and the tablespoon of butter or butter substitute in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion and chard stems, if using, and season lightly with salt; cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cook for 1 minute and then add greens, in batches as needed, until wilted. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of pepper, cover pan, and cook until greens are very tender, 7 to 15 minutes. You should have a generous 2 cups.

While the greens are cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together the ricotta, eggs, 3/4 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of white pepper. Pour the milk into shallow dish large enough to accommodate a sheet of matzo.

Brush an 8-by-8-inch (6-cup) or similar sized baking dish with some oil. Spread a little of the spinach mixture, including its juices, over bottom of baking dish. Briefly soak 1 matzo in milk to soften it, then place it in the baking dish. Soak a second matzo and fit it in, as needed, to complete the layer. Spoon half the remaining greens over the matzo, spreading them evenly.

Add a second matzo layer. Spoon half the ricotta mixture over the matzo and spread evenly. Scatter the taleggio or Fontina cheese over the matzo. Repeat the matzo and spinach layers, using all the remaining spinach. Add a fourth and final layer of milk-soaked matzo to the stack. Top with the remaining ricotta mixture.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Mix together the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano and the pecorino-Romano, then sprinkle that over the top of the casserole. Pour some of the soaking milk over the top of the dish, adding as much of it as you can into the corners and sides to fill.

At this point, the kugel can be covered and refrigerated up to a day in advance; remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before baking.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the plastic wrap, as needed; cover the kugel tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the ricotta topping is puffed and lightly golden and slightly loose at the center. Let it rest for at least 10 minutes before serving, during which time the topping will settle and its center will firm up.

Note: The sting in stinging nettles disappears as soon as nettles hit the heat. Wear gloves when stemming and cleaning nettles.

Serves 6

Nutrition | Per serving: 500 calories, 29 g protein, 28 g carbohydrates, 31 g fat, 16 g saturated fat, 165 mg cholesterol, 800 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar

From Amelia Saltsman, author of "The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen: A Fresh Take on Tradition" (Sterling Epicure, 2015).

Sweet Dairy Brunch Kugel.
Sweet Dairy Brunch Kugel. - Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post

Sweet Dairy, Brunch Kugel

This kugel, made with matzo, is simpler than a noodle one: Use crumbled matzo instead of noodles, and crushed matzo instead of cornflakes in the lemon-scented topping. It's wonderful warm or cold, for a "second-day" lunch or a Sunday brunch. The unbaked kugel needs to be refrigerated for at least 3 hours and up to overnight. The baked kugel can be cooled, covered and refrigerated 2 days in advance, or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and frozen for up to 1 month.

For the kugel

3 large eggs, beaten

3/4 cup whole-milk cottage cheese

3/4 cup sour cream

1/3 cup sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter or pareve butter substitute, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

1 cup whole milk

1/4 cup raisins, preferably dark

4 sheets matzo, crumbled (pieces not larger than 1 inch)

For the topping

1 sheet matzo

2 teaspoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 teaspoons unsalted butter or pareve butter substitute, melted

For the kugel: Stir together the eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream, sugar, butter or butter substitute, vanilla extract and salt in a mixing bowl, then add the milk, raisins and crumbled matzo, stirring until incorporated. The mixture will be very loose. Pour into an 8-by-8-inch or other shallow 6-cup baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight to firm up.

For the topping: Crush the sheet of matzo into pieces that are mostly 1/4-inch. Measure out 1/3 cup of them; reserve the remaining crumbs for another use. Stir together the 1/3 cup crumbs, sugar, salt, lemon zest or cinnamon and melted butter or butter substitute in a medium bowl.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap the kugel.

Sprinkle the topping evenly over the kugel; bake for about 35 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.

Serves 8

Nutrition | Per serving (using kosher salt and butter): 280 calories, 8 g protein, 30 g carbohydrates, 14 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 110 mg cholesterol, 240 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 15 g sugar

Nutrition | Per serving (using kosher salt and pareve butter substitute): 280 calories, 8 g protein, 30 g carbohydrates, 14 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 95 mg cholesterol, 300 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 15 g sugar

From Amelia Saltsman, author of "The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen: A Fresh Take on Tradition" (Sterling Epicure, 2015).

Chicken and Artichoke Matzo Pie With Eggs and Gremolata.
Chicken and Artichoke Matzo Pie With Eggs and Gremolata. - Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post

Chicken and Artichoke Matzo Pie With Eggs and Gremolata

This savory kugel packs in so many flavors and smells heavenly as it bakes.

In testing, we got a yield of about 2 cups of mostly dark meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken, and a generous 5 cups when we cooked 2 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (adding more meat to this pie won't hurt). If you can find fresh baby artichokes, see the note below for how to prepare them.

To begin with leftover cooked meat and soup, you will need 4 cups shredded roasted or braised chicken, turkey, or lamb and about 2 1/2 cups chicken broth. Begin by sauteing the carrots, onions, garlic and thyme sprigs in 1 tablespoon olive oil to use in the chicken filling, then skip down to preparing the artichokes.

Chicken schmaltz is often available in the frozen section at grocery stores. The chicken-vegetable mixture can be cooked, cooled and refrigerated a day in advance. The assembled, unbaked matzo pie can be covered tightly and refrigerated a day in advance; remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before baking.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 medium carrot, scrubbed well and chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

6 sprigs thyme

1 pound frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted (may substitute 1 pound fresh baby artichokes, see note)

Kosher or sea salt

Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon (if using fresh baby artichokes, you'll need another lemon; see note)

1/4 cup loosely packed mint leaves, chopped

About 4 cups cooked, mostly dark-meat chicken, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 1/2 cups no-salt-added chicken broth

2 tablespoons schmaltz (solidified chicken fat), or more as needed

Freshly ground white pepper

1/2 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves

2 hard-cooked eggs

6 sheets matzo (7 ounces total), or as needed

Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Stir in the onion, carrot, half the garlic and the thyme sprigs; cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened. Transfer to a bowl; discard the thyme sprigs. Wipe out the saute pan; you'll use it again.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the same saute pan over medium-high heat. Pat the artichokes dry with paper towels, then add them to the pan; season lightly with salt. Cook for about 3 minutes, then stir in half the remaining garlic, half the lemon zest and all the mint. Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and stir to incorporate. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add the chicken to the cooled, cooked vegetable mixture, along with 1/2 cup of the broth, a tablespoon or two of schmaltz (to taste), the juice of the remaining half lemon, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper.

To make the gremolata, finely chop together the parsley and remaining lemon zest and the remaining garlic; reserve one-quarter of it for a final garnish. Chop the eggs and mix together with the remaining gremolata. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use about 2 tablespoons of schmaltz to grease the bottom and sides of an 8-by-8-inch baking dish (or equivalent in volume).

Pour some broth into a shallow dish large enough to accommodate a sheet of matzo. Briefly soak 1 matzo in the broth until it has softened just a bit, then place in baking dish. Soak a second matzo, using pieces of it as needed to complete coverage of that bottom layer. Repeat to create a second matzo layer.

Spoon the chicken-vegetable mixture evenly over matzo in the baking dish. Scatter the egg-gremolata mixture evenly as the next layer. Soak the remaining matzos, as needed, to create a 2-layer-thick top crust.

Arrange the artichokes evenly over the top, covering the matzo completely. Pour 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the broth slowly over the pie and around it, allowing the liquid to flow in along the sides of the baking dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil; bake until fragrant and bubbly around the edges, about 35 minutes. Uncover and cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into squares.

If there are any pan juices, spoon them over each serving. Garnish with the remaining gremolata.

Note: To prepare fresh baby artichokes, use a Microplane zester to remove the yellow zest from the lemons and reserve. Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into a medium bowl of water. Ruthlessly peel away and discard the darker outer leaves of an artichoke until you get to the pale leaves. Shave away any dark remnants near the base and cut off the tops of the artichoke to remove the prickly tips. Drop the artichoke into the acidulated water and repeat with remaining artichokes. Cut each artichoke lengthwise into thin slices and return them to the water until ready to cook as directed above.

Serve 6 to 8

Nutrition | Per serving (based on 8): 340 calories, 22 g protein, 29 g carbohydrates, 15 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 100 mg cholesterol, 230 mg sodium, 5 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar

From Amelia Saltsman, author of "The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen: A Fresh Take on Tradition" (Sterling Epicure, 2015).

Savory Spring Leek Matzo Kugel.
Savory Spring Leek Matzo Kugel. - Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post

Savory Spring Leek Matzo Kugel

Chicken schmaltz (fat) and rendered chicken skin, called gribenes, enrich this flexible kugel. Dill, thyme or sage work well in the mix of aromatics; green garlic or garlic chives can be used to replace one-third of the leeks. The gribenes can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 2 months. The kugel may be baked, cooled, covered and refrigerated a day in advance. Cut into squares (still in the pan) before reheating.

For the optional gribenes

8 ounces chicken skin (from one 4-pound whole bird)

8 ounces chicken schmaltz (fat)

1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 tablespoons water

Kosher salt

For the kugel

8 leeks, cleaned, dark green tops trimmed and reserved for another use (about 2 1/2 pounds total; see note)

5 tablespoons frozen chicken schmaltz (may substitute olive oil)

1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or more as needed

6 matzo sheets (7 ounces total)

Chicken broth or water

4 large eggs

Freshly ground black or white pepper (optional)

Leaves from about 15 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, chopped (1/3 cup)

For the optional gribenes: Lay the chicken skin flat on a plate; freeze for about 45 minutes. Use kitchen scissors to cut the skin into 1/2-inch-wide pieces, letting them fall into a 2-quart pot. Add the onion, schmaltz and water; cook for about 2 hours over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, or until pieces of skin and the onion are mahogany brown.

Strain the schmaltz through a fine-mesh strainer into a glass jar, then drain the chicken skin pieces, called gribenes, on paper towels; discard the onion. The yield should be about 1/2 cup of gribenes. Season lightly with salt before serving or storing. Reserve 5 tablespoons of the schmaltz for the kugel; refrigerate or freeze the rest for another use.

For the kugel: Cut the white and light-green sections of the leeks into thin slices. You'll have about 6 cups.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the schmaltz in a large pan over medium heat. Once the fat has melted, add leeks and a little of the salt. Stir and cook until the vegetable's color brightens, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until very tender, reducing heat as needed to prevent leeks from browning. Add a bit of water during cooking time, if necessary, to keep leeks from sticking. You'll end up with about 2 cups leeks. Set aside to cool. Leeks may be prepared up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Break the matzos into 1/2-inch to 2-inch pieces, letting them fall into a large mixing bowl. Pour just enough broth or water over matzos to cover completely and soak just long enough for you to beat the eggs. Whisk together the eggs, remaining salt and a few grinds of pepper, if desired, in a mixing bowl until well blended. Drain the matzos, discarding the liquid. Stir in the eggs, leeks, parsley and most of the gribenes, if using. To check the seasoning, cook a spoonful of the kugel mixture in a small skillet, taste, and adjust the seasoning in the remaining mixture as needed.

Heat a shallow 2-quart baking dish in the oven for 5 minutes, then plop the remaining 2 tablespoons of schmaltz in it. Once it melts, brush it around to coat the bottom and sides.

Pour in the kugel mixture and smooth the top, scattering the remaining gribenes, if using. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean, kugel is firm and browned in places and golden on the bottom. Let stand at least 15 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.

Note: To clean the leeks, stand them dark-green ends down in a large container filled with lots of ice and water. Let them sit for 20 minutes; add ice as needed. Gently lift out the leeks, shake and pat dry with paper towels. Pour off the water separately, so none of the grit at the bottom of the ice-water bath gets reintroduced into the leeks.

Serve 6 to 8

Nutrition | Per serving (based on 8, using kosher salt): 300 calories, 8 g protein, 41 g carbohydrates, 11 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 100 mg cholesterol, 210 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 6 g sugar

From Amelia Saltsman, author of "The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen: A Fresh Take on Tradition" (Sterling Epicure, 2015).

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