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WBT@Home Recipe Spotlight: Congregant Diane Worthington's Savory Noodle Kugel with Caramelized Leeks

Noodle puddings are popular as a side dish that also double as a slice of soothing comfort. Here egg noodles are baked in a savory egg custard and are usually served warm.  While this is often served on Jewish holidays, and especially on Break the Fast dinner after the conclusion of Yom Kippur services, it is equally at home anytime as a delectable dish on most family dinner tables.

This is a crowd pleaser for children and adults. Cream cheese, sour cream and cottage cheese are added to the eggs to form a custard. A sauté of caramelized leeks, shredded carrots and spinach along with cooked noodles are folded into the pudding to make for a savory vegetarian favorite. For the topping, the crispy Japanese-style breadcrumbs called panko, add a crunchier texture than fine breadcrumbs. One bite of the vegetable noodle custard with the crispy parsley topping may convince you to make this a happy family tradition.

There are a number of ways to serve this. You could present this as a main course brunch entrée, a side dish for roasted chicken or brisket, or as a vegetarian dish alongside a few vegetable salads as a light dinner.

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

• 4 tablespoons olive oil
• 4 large leeks white and light green part only, chopped
• 2 carrots peeled and shredded, about 1 cup
• 2 cups packed baby spinach
• 1 teaspoon salt
• Ground black pepper

• 12 ounces wide egg noodles
• 4 large eggs
• 2 cups cottage cheese
• 1 cup sour cream
• ½ pound cream cheese, softened
• 1 tablespoon Dijon grainy mustard
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
• Zest of 1 large lemon

Topping
• 3/4 cup panko crumbs
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
• Salt and white pepper
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

DIRECTIONS:

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with oil and set aside.

2. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and warm the oil. Add the leeks and sauté, stirring often until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. Turn down the heat to medium if the leeks begin to burn.

3. Add the shredded carrot and continue to sauté until all the vegetables are slightly caramelized, about 3 more minutes.  Add the spinach leaves toss until just beginning to wilt. Season with salt and pepper and reserve.

4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles for about 6 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and reserve.

5. To make the topping, in a small bowl, combine the panko, garlic, salt and pepper, and butter and mix with a fork to combine. Reserve.

6. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer on medium speed or whisk until well blended. Add the cottage cheese, sour cream, cream cheese and whisk until the cream cheese is completely blended. Add the mustard, salt, pepper, parsley and lemon zest. Stir in the cooked vegetables and drained noodles and mix to blend. Spoon into the prepared dish. Smooth over with a spatula.  Scatter the topping evenly over the noodles.

7. Bake the kugel for 40 minutes or until it is cooked through and topping is browned. Let cool slightly, cut into squares and serve immediately.

Tips:
Use low-fat sour cream, cottage cheese, and cream cheese for a lighter version.
Advance Preparation: Make up to 8 hours ahead through step 4, cover, and refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before baking.