Growing up, my Grandma Sadie regaled me with her stories of the old country. The last survivor of a gaggle of girls by the time I was born, I learned about my family history through her tales of joy and woe.
One of the joyful tales revolved around noodle pudding, or luskshen kugel, in Yiddish. The story made its appearance whenever she would make one of these luscious casseroles of sweet carbs and dairy. It was the story of who made the best kugel, she or her sister Dora, and how it was a lifetime of competition between the two to be the winner of the coveted prize… relatives saying theirs was the best. No blue ribbon, no cash prize, no photo on the cover of a women’s magazine, simply bragging rights to making the best kugel. Now, I’m sure you can guess whose was the best noodle pudding. Grandma Sadie’s! “Everyone said that mine was the best!” Of course she was the only one left who was a witness. Truth be told, it was a great noodle pudding. The best I ever had, whether she, my mother or I would make it.
When I decided to give up dairy, her noodle pudding was one of those dishes that I knew I would miss. And I have for the last three years. But as I have become more adept in the kitchen with plant-based dairy, I have experimented with recipes that force me to get creative with plant-based replacements. I love the challenge!
And so this past week, to honor the Jewish tradition of serving dairy foods after the fast on Yom Kippur, I decided to veganize Grandma Sadie’s Best Noodle Pudding Ever. A recipe I’m sharing with you so that everyone is included. Now, this was no easy feat as the original recipe contains egg noodles, butter, sour cream, half a dozen eggs and pot cheese (a dry curd cottage cheese). This meant replacing everything other than the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and salt.
While plant based butter and sour cream are quite good and readily available, there is no plant based cottage cheese on the market yet. In addition, my grandmother separated the 6 eggs, beating the whites to stiff peaks before adding to the noodle mixture. According to her, the signature secret to a light kugel that she claimed made it the best. I had to replicate that!
Here’s what I did.
- Replaced the egg noodles with Italian pappardelle that I broke into smaller pieces before adding to the boiling water.
- Replaced the dairy butter and sour cream with store bought vegan versions.
- Replaced the dry curd cottage cheese with my homemade almond ricotta
- Replaced the yolks with store-bought Just Egg
- Replaced the egg whites with aquafaba, the liquid from canned chickpeas that I beat up to stiff peaks. I did this for the July 4th Meringues a few months ago.
The result? Absolutely the best noodle pudding ever… in it’s own way. While this version doesn’t have the custard like consistency of recipes using hen eggs, it is just about as close in flavor to the original, as I remember. Plus, I love that, once again, I get to remember my Grandma Sadie and her delightful stories with every luscious bite.
Grandma Sadie’s Best Noodle Pudding Ever – Veganized!
1/2 cup plus 1 T vegan butter, melted
4 T sugar
1 T ground cinnamon
1 pound dried pappardelle noodles, egg free
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
6 T Just Egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups vegan sour cream, room temperature
2 cups almond ricotta (recipe follows), room temperature
3/4 cups golden raisins, soaked in water 20 minutes to plump up
Liquid (aquafaba) from one 14 ounce can of chickpeas
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 350 with the rack in the middle.
Using the T of melted butter, grease a 9 x 13 Pyrex dish with a pastry brush, making sure to cover the corners and the sides. Set aside.
In a small bowl mix the 4 T sugar and the cinnamon. Set aside. This will be a topping for the noodle pudding.
Break up the pappardelle into small pieces resembling egg noodles and cook in salted boiling water until very al dente. They will cook further in the oven. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and let drain again.
In the meantime, put the salt, Just Egg, vanilla and 1/2 cup sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the processing blade. Process until well combined and frothy and the sugar dissolved, stirring up from the bottom occasionally to make sure it is mixing up, about 30 seconds.
Add the sour cream and blend until smooth, again stirring up occasionally.
Add the ricotta and blend until just combined.
With the motor running add the butter and process until just combined. Stir it all up from the bottom to mix well. Set this mixture aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the aquafaba and cream of tartar. Beat on high until stiff peaks form about 4-5 minutes.
Okay. Time to assemble.
Using the pot used to cook the noodles, mix the pappardelle with the sour cream/ricotta mixture until all noodles are covered.
Add in one T of the cinnamon/sugar mixture and the drained raisins and combine well.
Gently fold in the beaten aquafaba. This is a bit tricky. Have patience and keep stirring up gently.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Top with some of the cinnamon and sugar mixture until the noodles are covered. You won’t use it all.
Bake 50-60 minutes or until the center is set and the top is a bit browned. The pudding will puff up during baking but then settle down. My noodle pudding had a crisp ring around the perimeter similar to a Dutch pancake. Delicious.
Let cool completely in the pan. Cut and serve or refrigerate. I like to refrigerate and serve cold. That’s how we ate it in my family. It also makes it much easier to cut.
Makes 3 cups
This should be made a day ahead after soaking the nuts overnight
2 cups slivered almonds
1 1/4 cups extra creamy oat milk
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
Cover the almonds in water and soak overnight in the fridge.
Drain and rinse well.
Put the almonds in the food processor with the processing blade. Process until broken down into a crumbly paste.
Add the milk and salt and process until it’s a sandy texture like ricotta cheese. Please note that I added more liquid than I usually do for making ricotta, as I wanted to replicate the high moisture content of cottage cheese.
Add the lemon juice and process until combined
Use the leftover ricotta in other recipes.