Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sundays with Sparky - Spaghetti Squash "Noodle" Kugel

Did you know that the word "kugel" means "ball" in German?  Apparently the original version was baked in a round pan;  the name describes it when hot from the oven and still puffy.  While many people know Kugels as a sweet noodle dish of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, the term really refers to many dishes that use a farmer’s cheese and egg custard as a binder.  A Kugel can be sweet or savory, and can have fillings as diverse as noodles or spinach, potatoes or cranberries.

Although a traditional noodle kugel is made with broad noodles, I decided to take advantage of spaghetti squash's interesting texture and use it instead...and then I just started playing fast and loose with the dozens of recipes I found; what I wound up with is a mishmash of most of them.
001As a first step, I had Sparky and Zuko prep the spaghetti squash as you would for any recipe: I cut it in half (an adult should do this step, and carefully,) had them scrape out the seeds, and then we placed it face-down in a microwave-safe dish with a little water in it.  We microwaved it on 80% power for about 12 minutes, until the "spaghetti" separated easily with a fork.  If you just want to eat squash, you can stop here and go to it!
003They scraped out the “spaghetti” strands out of the squash with forks and dumped them into a buttered loaf pan. (I will admit here that I tweaked the recipe after the first attempt: it was not as creamy as I wanted it, so I re-tested the recipe later in the week, adding panko, flour and sour cream.  Just in case Sparky or Zuko are extra-vigilant and call me out.)
1 small to medium size spaghetti squash
1 cup unsweetened applesauce (chunky homemade is best if you have it)
1/2 cup panko or matzo farfel
2 eggs
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp flour or 1 tbsp potato starch
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 to 1/3 cup crushed hazelnuts
Butter for pan

We preheated the oven to 350 degrees. 
004The eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream, maple syrup, flour and salt all went into the blender and were zizzed into a smooth, gloppy mess.  The applesauce and bread/cracker crumbs were folded in to the squash in the loaf pan, and the custard glopped over the top.   We then used the forks to poke the squash and applesauce to admit the custard, making sure there were no dry spots.  Sparky and Zuko sprinkled hazelnuts over the top, and we put the whole thing in the oven for 30 minutes, checked it, and baked it for 10 more minutes until the skewer we stuck in the middle came out clean.

We had a delicious lunch of kugel and beet chips, sweet with the flavors of squash, apples and vegetables of the earth, and called it a day.

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