With the right specialty pasta, a delicious, gluten-free noodle pudding doesn't have to be a contradiction in terms.
Was there ever a High Holiday season without a noodle kugel on the menu?
Not if you’re Ashkenazi! This is a dish we wait for all year long.
But for those who can’t tolerate gluten protein, Ashkenazi or not, eating noodle kugel can be a nightmare. The pasta we use for our classic kugels are gluten personified, loaded with wheat.
Fortunately, there’s been so much in the news about celiac disease and gluten intolerance in the last few years, a slew of new gluten-free products have come to the market, including pasta products. Finding the type of pasta shape typically used for kugel is a bit more difficult than it is to find penne or spaghetti and such.
Finding it kosher is even trickier.
But there are some. Sam Mills Pasta D’oro Gluten Free Lasagne Corte (Organized Kashruth Laboratories) is better than most. It’s based on corn, which doesn’t get as soft or mushy as rice-based products and has a rich, “corny” taste. It is also the right shape for noodle kugel, that is, strips wider than fettucine. Don’t be put off by the word “lasagne.” These are actually “egg noodle” shapes about 1-inch long and 1/2-inch wide. The price is right too; most gluten-free products are costly. You can get 6-one pound bags of Lasagne Corte on Amazon for under $15.
I’ve also used Orgran Gluten Free Rice and Corn Spaghetti noodles. These noodles are skinny, like angel hair pasta or “fine” egg noodles. They become gummy in the more typical kind of dairy kugels that contain large amounts of eggs and moist products like sour cream or yogurt. But I do like these noodles for savory meat, vegetable or pareve kugels. After I cook the noodles I add diced, cooked meat and/or vegetables (including sautéed mushrooms) or vegetables and grated hard cheese (like Swiss or Parmesan) and some chopped fresh herbs. Then I mix in just enough eggs to coat the ingredients.
We always have dairy kugels for our Yom Kippur Break-the-Fast. One must be gluten-free. I’ve learned a few tricks to keep in mind when cooking gluten-free pasta: make sure to use a large pot (6-8 quart) of salted water and let the water come to a full boil before you add the noodles (prevents gumminess). After adding the noodles, stir them, let the water come to a boil again and stir again a few times during the next several minutes. Taste the noodles at the minimum time suggested on the package; when it is tender, and not dry at the center, it’s done. Drain and mix the noodles with the other ingredients. You can prepare the kugel a day in advance and pop it into the oven when you need it.