The ingredients for this month's Royal Foodie Joust were chosen by Billy from A Table for Two. Billy took pity on us and selected ingredients that would lend themselves to simple preparations. After the hustle and bustle of the Holidays, it was much appreciated! He decided on mushrooms, cauliflower and noodles.
For those few that may not be familiar with the Royal Foodie Joust, it is the brainchild of our own lovely and talented Jenn, The Leftover Queen. It's a monthly cooking competition for members of The Foodie Blogroll. Each month, the previous month's winner chooses three ingredients and the rest of us go crazy trying to create a delicious dish incorporating all three ingredients into it! Then, all of the members are invited to vote on their favorite. And so it goes.....
The first RFJ that I entered was back in October, 2008. I made a Creamy Gorgonzola, Fennel & Pear Tart, and was flabbergasted to learn that I had actually won! I've been really anxious to try my luck again ever since.
I didn't want to just throw together a regular pasta dish for this one. I needed to figure out something a little more original. One of my favorite noodle dishes has always been a noodle or lochshen kugel.
A Jewish specialty, a kugel is a baked casserole-like dish, featuring either noodles or potatoes and anything else that the chef who is making it desires. Kugels may be sweet or savory, but the most popular kinds are those served as desserts. (BTW, I have a killer Cherry Cheese Kugel recipe that I promise to share with you one day.)
Anyway, I didn't think mushrooms and cauliflower would work too well in a dessert dish, so I came up with a savory kugel using vegetables and goat cheese. I used the required mushrooms and cauliflower in my dish, as well as onions and carrots (for sweetness and color). You could use any vegetable and seasoning combination you like. I think that this recipe is very versatile that way. I also toyed with the idea of adding bacon or chopped ham. I didn't because I wanted to keep it vegetarian, but I do intend to try it that way next time.
I started out by cooking some onions down in butter and olive oil until they were really soft and sweet. Then, I added each of the other vegetables in, one by one, and sauteed them until tender. The binder for my kugel was a mixture of the traditional cottage cheese, sour cream and eggs, but with a twist. I also blended in a healthy dose of soft and creamy goat cheese, or chevre. That little bit of tanginess from that velvety chevre made all the difference. It was subtle, but definitely there. And, it was the perfect counterpoint to the mellow sweetness of the onions.
I was so pleased with the way that this kugel turned out! It was a really delicious dish and a big hit at Chez SGCC. It is also a great dish for a buffet, because it can be made in advance and is best served at room temperature. There is nothing fussy or complicated about it either. Hell, if I could do it standing on one foot, anybody with two good feet should have no trouble!
If any of you Foodie Blogrollers like my kugel as much as I do, please take a minute to hop on over to the forum when the voting begins and......
VOTE FOR ME!
Savory Vegetable Noodle Kugel (Printable Recipe)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 lb cottage cheese- Small curd 2%-4% fat
1 C sour cream
8 ounces chevre
6 eggs, beaten
1 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded carrots
2 cups mushrooms, sliced (I used Baby Bella mushrooms, but any kind will work.)
2 cups cauliflower, cut into small florets
Salt and ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 lb medium egg noodles
1 cup panko crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Cook cauliflower by simmering in water until al dente-crisp tender. Drain and set aside.
Saute onions on med-low heat in olive oil and butter for 20-30 minutes, until really soft and sweet. Add carrots and saute until tender, about 10 minutes more. Add mushrooms and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Then add cauliflower and toss. Set aside.
Mix cottage cheese, sour cream, chevre, eggs, salt, pepper and nutmeg together in food processor or blender until smooth. Set aside.
Cook noodles according to package directions and drain well. In a large bowl, mix noodles together with vegetables and stir in the cheese and egg mixture. Then, stir in the grated cheese.
Pour the whole thing into a large, buttered casserole dish.
Mix the panko with the melted butter and sprinkle over the top of the casserole.
Bake at 350 degrees until browned and bubbly, about 30-40 minutes.
Serve hot or at room temperature. The kugel sets up more as it cools and can then be sliced more easily.