For those of you who celebrate Passover (and even if you don't) this Crispy Vegetable Kugel is sure to please and can easily be made ahead which, when you seem to have 4,000 other dishes to cook and get out to the table at the same time, is indeed a blessing!!
But before we get to the food, I want to explain my crazy kind of schedule for the next couple of weeks. Today I leave with my daughter for Michigan (about a 10 hour drive) for the Hockey Nationals and we'll be gone pretty much all of the week and most of the weekend, depending on how her team does. Keep your fingers crossed! Then, we come home for a about a day, do a ton of laundry, check out the status of the kitchen reno, try to bake things on Monday to bring to my mom's house for Passover that night, and then head out early the next morning to the West Coast for a long-planned visit with my son and his girlfriend. I will do my best to keep blogging but in case the posts are spotty, you know why and I promise things will get back to normal as soon as my kitchen is returned to me!
Ok, enough about my travel plans and on to this delicious kugel. Don't you just love that word?!! If you're not in the "know" about kugel, it's basically just a baked casserole made of either noodles or potatoes with eggs, flour, lots of butter or oil and onions. During Passover when you're not supposed to have flour, you can sub in matzo meal. Generally, most kugels I've tasted are on the heavy, kind of gluey side which means that until now we haven't been much of a kugel family. Actually, in all honesty, not really until last year, which is when I made this light crispy version and for some inexplicable reason, didn't share. Sorry! But better late than never, right? What makes this really special is that you sauté leeks until they get caramelized and they add so much flavor to the mix. Plus, the ratio of veggies to potato is like 5:1 which keeps this dish from being too heavy and leaves room for plenty of pieces of buttered matzo (which in my opinion, is the best thing about the seder!!) Also, it's a nice colorful addition to the table--very springy and if there's any leftover it makes a nice little lunch or snack. Really, it's too good to just save for Passover. Try it and let me know what you think.
And apropos of nothing, here's a little photo update on the renovation. Walls are up, windows are in, floors are waiting to be sanded and stained and cabinets are next. And what do you think of Tundra for the walls? It's the one on the right. Too dulll? We've got about 10 different swatches of color on the wall ranging from dark blue (just to use as an accent) to what my mom calls "battleship gray". The more I see, the less I know. Oy vey! We can always repaint, right? Anyway, heading out this afternoon for my girl's hockey extravaganza! Wish us luck!!
Crispy Vegetable Kugel
Makes about 15 servings
Prep Time: 25-30 minutes; Bake Time: 45-50 minutes
- 5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 2 leeks, trimmed of roots and dark green parts, sliced into half moons and rinsed well in a colander
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 large russet potato, peeled
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled
- 2 medium zucchini
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 3 tablespoons matzo meal, plus more if necessary
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté the leeks with about 1/4 teaspoon salt for about 10-15 minutes. If leeks are getting too browned, turn the heat down a bit. Stir often.
3. Meanwhile, shred the russet potato, sweet potato, zucchini, onion and garlic cloves in a food processor (or by hand if you don't have one). Place the bowl by the sink and remove handfuls of the mixture and squeeze them over the sink, to remove as much liquid as possible. The drier you can get the mixture, the better your kugel will turn out. Place the dried clumps into a large bowl. Once all the mixture has been squeezed, add the leeks, eggs, remaining oil, matzo meal, a pinch of salt and the pepper. Mix together well. If the mixture seems really wet, add a tablespoon or two more of the matzo meal. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
4. Bake for 45 minutes or until the kugel is cooked through and the top is crisped and starting to get browned. Let cool a bit before serving so that it slices more neatly.
5. If you like you can make the entire thing up to one day ahead, let cool, cover with foil and place in the fridge. Then when you're ready to use it, take it out about an hour before so it can come to room temperature and reheat in a low oven to warm it through.
Note: Recipe adapted from What Jew Wanna Eat. I tinkered around with this--feel free to make it your own.