Passover Kugel (I'm a bit behind in blogging)

The Passover Seder has become a holiday to share with non-Jewish friends, and we were thrilled and delighted when our good friends, Rob and Justin, invited us to partake in their celebration. Their other Jewish guests warmly shared their collective perspectives not just on Passover, but the religion as well, making for a faith-filled, joyful evening.

While the Passover meal is quite the culinary feast, it’s truly a religious service, ceremony, and experience. I’ve always been fascinated with the culture and traditions of Judaism, which are well quite alive during the Seder. The Haggadah that was used, written by a female rabbi, was contemporary and welcoming of diversity. The meal followed all the traditions of a Seder, comprised of 15 sections, with four glasses of wine consumed during the Seder, hand washing, prayers, breaking and eating matzah, the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, songs, afikomen (hiding the matzah), and praises. 

Now for the food. The tremendous meal was based on the culinary tradition of Ashkenazi (or Germanic) Jews, and we were assigned the kugel, similar to a pudding or noodle dish. The only guidelines were no dairy since the entrée was (perfectly roasted) lamb - dietary laws prohibit mixing meat and dairy at the same meal - and it had to use matzah. Justin provided a cauliflower leek kugel from Epicurious that sounded interesting, with tweaking, of course. Everyone swooned over Rob's amazing soup, a rich broth and the lightest, fluffiest matzah balls that would make any Jewish grandmother proud. By the time dessert was served, my tummy was saying no more (we had had the fabulous Easter Brunch at the Chase Park Plaza Cafe Eau only hours earlier), but I couldn't pass up a few bites of the decadent almond-apricot cake and the dessert matzahs (chocolate, nut, and dried fruit from Martha Stewart) and chocolate toffee).

This is what we ended up making for the kugel. Rob, always so kind, commented that I could have been Jewish my entire life as tasty as it turned out and lighter than many conventional Seder dishes. Be forewarned, however, you need to like dill. A lot. Its flavor is quite pronounced. Even if you are not serving for a Seder, it makes a lovely, low-carb side dish, and substituting panko would work in lieu of matzah meal.
Cauliflower-Leek Kugel with Herb and Pine Nut Crust
8 Servings

8 C cauliflower florets (from 2 medium heads of cauliflower)
6 T olive oil, divided
2 C coarsely chopped leeks (white and pale green parts)
2 C coarsely chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
6 T unsalted matzo meal
4 large eggs
1/2 C chopped fresh parsley, divided
1/2 C chopped fresh dill, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted, chopped

Cook cauliflower in large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain; transfer to large bowl and mash coarsely with potato masher or a stick blender. Mine were the consistency of coarsely mashed potatoes.
Heat 3 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks, onions, and garlic, and sauté until tender and just beginning to color, about 5 minutes. Add leek mixture to cauliflower. Mix in matzo meal. Beat eggs, 1 tablespoon parsley, 1 tablespoon dill, salt, and pepper in small bowl to blend; stir into cauliflower mixture.

Brush 11x7-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon oil. Spread cauliflower mixture evenly in prepared dish. Mix pine nuts, remaining 7 tablespoons parsley, 7 tablespoons dill, and 2 tablespoons oil in medium bowl to blend. Sprinkle evenly over kugel. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cover and chill.) 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake kugel uncovered until set in center and beginning to brown on top, about 35 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes.

1 comment:

  1. I Just saw this! Fun post! And, for the record, I would definitely make this any time of the year. So yummy!



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