It's a bit like a casserole, but growing up- we always called it a Kugel (pronounced koogle where the ‘oo’ sounds like the ‘oo’ in book) and never really questioned the oddity of it- the name or what it was. That is makes the absolute perfect gluten-free, vegan veggie side for Passover or Easter only dawned on me when I created this clean and lean version.
Kugel shows up at every Jewish holiday in one outfit or another. The New Year saw it as a sweet, casserole treat all noodley and cheesy topped with syrupy strawberry sauce. On Passover, it would be whipped up as a savoury dish with onions and Matzo meal. Around Chanukah, the Kugel is generally comprised of potatoes and served with sour cream (because it is not a true Chanukah celebration without at least a half dozen manifestations of the potato).
A kugel is defined as a traditional Jewish casserole served as a dessert or side dish. Can anyone else offer foods from your traditional background that can easily fall into either the dessert or side-dish category? And jello-mould doesn’t count.
The first kugels were made from bread and flour. In the 17th century sugar was added to the mix. In Poland, the Jewish women would sprinkle cinnamon and raisins into the recipe while the Hungarians took the dessert to the limits and served it up with a hearty serving of sugar and sour-cream. Seems to me that people just don’t know what to do with their kugel anymore and have made it a free for all- throwing all optional ‘toppings’ on the table allowing the arteries to sort out what to do with this sweet, salty, starchy, sour creamy heart attack in the making.
Rumour has it that today it is not uncommon for the Bubies in the kitchen to accessorize their kugel casseroles with corn flakes, graham cracker crumbs, ground gingersnaps or caramelized sugar, and layer the dish with sliced pineapples or apricot jam. Oye Vey!
Either way, with Passover upon us and Easter coming, I thought it time I share my cleaned up, version of Sweet Potato Kugel that deliciously falls into the side dish/dessert category and one more way to UnDiet your Passover or Easter.
- 7-8 cups grated sweet potato (about 5-6 sweet potatoes)
- 2 apples, grated
- 1 cup goji berries or raisins (optional)
- 1 cup quinoa flour or almond meal (for non-Passover times, I opt for brown rice flour)
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp sea salt
- pinch each of clove and nutmeg
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup pecans, chopped
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- 2 tbsp coconut syrup or maple syrup
- pinch of sea salt
- pinch each of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 350
- Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl (omit topping)
- Place in 12 x9 baking dish and flatten firmly with the back of a spatula. This will help it hold together
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- While baking, mix together topping ingredients.
- At the 30 minute mark, remove kugel from the oven and sprinkle with pecan mix.
- Bake for another 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving so it will keep together.