Kugel, meet lasagnaby josie a.g. shapiro
It’s always fun to show up at work and realize that you’re splattered with something, like sunflower seed butter from your 4-year-old’s fingertips.
And then there is the lunch you pack for yourself. Perhaps you eat outside, balanced on a park bench, lap lined with paper towels. Or at your desk, torn between crumbing up your keyboard or your shirt.
My Achilles’ heel is lunchtime lasagna. I am unable to enjoy this leftover delight without sporting a tomato sauce stain when it’s over. Perhaps that’s why kugel, aka Jewish lasagna, was invented. This sweetened traditional dish carries none of its Italian sister’s tomato hazard.
Or you could go for a light-on-the-tomatoes rendition instead. I discovered no-boil lasagna noodles, and the revelation has changed my life, not to mention my waistline.
Plain-Old Classic Jewish Noodle Kugel
12 oz. extra-wide egg noodles
16 oz. light sour cream
16 oz. farmer’s cheese or ricotta cheese
1⁄4 cup brown sugar
1⁄8 tsp. nutmeg
1⁄2 tsp. cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbs. melted butter
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook the noodles as directed on package for half the recommended time (4-5 minutes). Drain and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, stir together sour cream, cheese, eggs, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Stir in melted butter. Fold in noodles and pour into a greased 9x12 baking dish. Refrigerate overnight and up to 2 days, or bake immediately in preheated 375-degree oven for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.
8 cloves garlic, divided
1⁄3 cup olive oil
1 cup red onion, diced
4-5 anchovy fillets
8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced thick
8 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed removed, caps halved
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted
11⁄4 tsp. salt, divided
freshly ground black pepper
2⁄3 cup white wine
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
1⁄2 cup parsley, roughly chopped
15 oz. ricotta cheese
11⁄4 cup milk
8 oz. feta, crumbled
1⁄2 tsp. lemon zest (1 lemon)
12 oz. no-boil/oven-ready lasagna noodles (14-16 noodles)
Peel 4 of the garlic cloves and cut each in half. Finely mince remaining 4 garlic cloves and set aside for later. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok until hot but not smoking. Add halved garlic, diced onion and anchovy fillets to hot oil in pan. Sauté 1-2 minutes over medium-high heat until anchovies break apart.
Add mushrooms and olives to pan, and sauté about 2 minutes until mushrooms are coated in oil and just beginning to release their juices. Season with 1⁄2 tsp. of the salt (reserve remaining salt for the ricotta mixture) and the black pepper. Add wine and canned tomatoes to pan and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium-low and simmer with pan partially covered for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in corn, parsley and reserved minced garlic.
Meanwhile, mix ricotta, milk, feta, lemon zest and 3⁄4 tsp. remaining salt and some more black pepper in a large shallow bowl. Grease a 9x12-inch baking pan. Scoop about 1⁄4 cup of the ricotta mixture on bottom of pan spread.
Dip each lasagna noodle in remaining ricotta mixture. Layer 31⁄2-4 noodles on the bottom of the pan. You might need to break a couple noodles in half to cover as much of the pan as possible. Using a slotted spoon, scoop up a third of the warm tomato-mushroom mixture and spread over the noodles. Keep layering in this way to make 4 layers of noodles. The top layer of noodles should have nothing covering them.
Spread remaining ricotta over top layer of noodles. Pour remaining mushroom-tomato liquid on top of assembled lasagna. Cover pan very tightly in foil. Lasagna can be stored at this point in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake lasagna, covered tightly in tinfoil, for 45-50 minutes.
Josie A.G. Shapiro won the 2013 Man-O Manischewitz Cook-Off, is the co-author of “The Lazy Gourmet” and works at the JCC of San Francisco. Her columns alternate with those of Faith Kramer. Her website is http://www.thechickencontests.com.
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