Caramelized Onion & Poppy Seed Kugel
Dairy-free with only a handful of ingredients, this parve noodle pudding is as versatile as it is easy to prepare.
"Kugel" means "pudding" in Yiddish and noodle kugel is the most popular version, followed by vegetable kugels like potato, carrot, and spinach. Cheesy noodle kugels are what most people are accustomed to, and made sweet at that. This recipe is neither sweet nor cheesy, made with mahogany-colored caramelized onions and copious poppy seeds. Olive oil is the fat of choice to make this kugel parve (neutral, suitable for both meat and dairy meals, in kosher terms), but if keeping kosher is not your concern, both butter or duck fat would be scrumptious. Schmaltz (chicken fat) would be the very best of them all!
Equipment: large saucepan, stockpot, or Dutch oven; colander; cutting board; chef’s knife; dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; large sauté pan with a tight-fitting lid; wooden spoon; large mixing bowls; fork; rubber spatula; casserole
1, 12-oz. package wide egg noodles
3 large yellow onions, halved, thinly sliced lengthwise
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for greasing the pan 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease the baking dish lightly with oil and set aside.
2. Cook the egg noodles in a pot of boiling water until just tender, then drain. Rinse with cold water to prevent them from sticking together, and drain again. Set aside.
3. Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the sliced onions, stirring constantly to coat with the oil. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and sauté for one minute. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and lower the heat to low. Sweat over low heat, covered, for 5 minutes.
4. Remove the lid and stir the onions, which should have wilted by now. Raise the heat to medium or medium-low and continue cooking the onions until caramelized to a dark brown mahogany color (approximately 20 more minutes). Remove the onions from the pan and spread in a single layer on a clean work surface to cool quickly.
ILOC tip: make sure that every bit of the fond - the brown bits at the bottom of the pan that form as you continue to cook the onions - is returned to onions. Use the moisture of the onions to assist in scraping those bits on the bottom of the pan, but if necessary add a few tablespoons of water and work quickly over the heat to lift the fond from the pan and stir it into the onions. The fond is what makes the caramelized onions dark and sweet.
5. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs with a fork. Add the drained noodles and toss well to coat. Stir in the poppy seeds, remaining teaspoon of kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
6. Stir in the cooled sautéed onions, mixing well to incorporate. Pour the noodle mixture into the greased baking dish.
ILOC tip: cooling the onions so they are not scaldingly hot is essential before adding them to the noodle mixture, otherwise the eggs might scramble! It's all about technique, not torture.
7. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, drizzle with remaining tablespoon of oil, raise the temperature to 400°F and bake for another 10 minutes until the top is lightly browned.
Makes 8 servings.