One mainstay of my childhood was my grandmother’s noodle kugel, a sweet confection of dairy and egg noodles. Needless to say when I went gluten and dairy free, it was off limits. I was heartbroken. The mere idea of making it gluten and dairy free seemed preposterous. Once my mom had tried making it low-fat, which was an unmitigated disaster. This was a dish which thrived on fat and richness. It would give you a heart attack just looking at it. When I first went gluten/dairy free there were few options for dairy-free cheeses. It wasn’t going to happen.
So I bided my time. At first I really didn’t expect to ever find a way to re-make the kugel. Even as dairy-free sour cream and dairy-free cream cheese became more available, they weren’t exactly paragons of taste. As I have mentioned before, I find that tofutti’s products have a slightly plastic-y aftertaste, and they didn’t belong in my grandma’s kugel. Granted, non-dairy had come a long way since the mocha mix days of my childhood (ever had mocha-mix mashed potatoes? no? don’t). It wasn’t bad, but it still was a far cry from delicious. It wasn’t until I started discovering cashew cheeses (with the help of the Artisan Vegan Cheese cookbook) that I started to think it might be done. They had the proper richness. But it wasn’t until this month, with Vegan MoFo at my side, that I decided to risk it.
It is not especially hard to find gluten-free vegan egg noodles but I did have to order them off of amazon. Unfortunately I ordered them a bit late and so I had to do overnight shipping. Evidently this meant the delivery person was not our normal delivery person, and couldn’t find our house. Which is strange, because we get deliveries to the house at least a few times a week, and it is a house in a well-populated area. It’s not deep in the country on some nameless street. Heck, it’s not even an apartment. The only thing moderately confusing about our address is that the lot has two houses. But I was home all day and nobody ever knocked on my door and checked to make sure they had the right house. I think that some delivery guy was in a hurry to meet his quota or to get home and just making excuses. It’s the only possible option. So my initial kugel was made with bionature macaroni.
My biggest challenge with the kugel was actually making it egg-free as it relies on whipped egg whites to make it fluffy but still cohesive. I was going to try using agar powder, but couldn’t find any. I wound up buying Ener-G egg substitute since I read on the box that it could be whipped to make an egg white substitute. It whipped up pretty well! The original included the egg yolks, too, for richness, but I think the cashew cheese provides enough fattiness to make up for the lack of egg yolk. If you want you could throw in a few tablespoons of full fat coconut milk. I just couldn’t bring myself to open a whole can just for a few tablespoons
I was quite impressed with the end product. It is tangy and sweet. You can serve up squares of it without it crumbling (much). It has all of the richness of the original version. Unfortunately it only lasts a few days in the fridge before it dries out, so eat it fast! My mom said it tasted pretty much like the dairy version and even my fairly picky husband said it was good. My daughter ate it happily, but she’ll eat anything with noodles and cheese (even fake cheese), so you can’t trust her. I’m just excited to have noodle kugel again!
I have to be honest, other than the eggs, I was able to pretty much flat out substitute the vegan version of the ingredients for the non-vegan, which made it easy. I left the recipe basic on purpose so that you can play around with it. For reference, I used earth balance butter, WayFare sour cream, and this recipe for cream cheese from Healthful Pursuit. I wound up using purchased sour cream for convenience, since I found one that I liked. I didn’t want both cheeses to be cashew based as I figured they would basically taste the same; I wanted them to taste differently to add a bit more richness and flavor. If you want to experiment with cheese substitutes, I would recommend making sure that only one of your cheeses had ACV as a souring agent. I think lemon juice is a lot less distinctive. If you have time to make cultured cream cheese, even better.
- 1 package "egg" noodles or other wide noodles
- ½ c sugar
- 1 c. vegan sour cream
- ½ c. vegan cream cheese
- 1 stick of vegan butter or margarine, softened
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tbsp of Ener-G egg replacer
- 2-4 tbsp water
- ½ c brown sugar
- 2 tbsp butter
- ½ c cornflake crumbs
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Cook noodles slightly al-dente; drain.
- Preheat oven to 350
- Mix noodles with sugar, sour cream, cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and stir.
- Mix egg replacer with 2 tbsp water and beat until foamy; if you get more of a sticky mess than foam, add some more water until it beats easily.
- Fold the beaten egg replacer into the kugel and pour into a 1 qt baking dish.
- Make the cornflake topping by stirring all ingredients together until crumbly. Pour over kugel.
- Bake in oven for about 45 minutes; cover for the first 25 minutes, then uncover for the remainder.