In the world of Jewish kugel (a baked pudding), there is Team Sweet and Team Savory. I grew up on Team Sweet, somewhere between Noonie’s Noodle Pudding and the Sweet Kugel with Cornflakes from my friend Gail’s mother-in-law. But recently I’ve learned the virtue of the savory versions. And this Savory Broccoli Carrot Kugel is a good part of the reason for my change of heart.
Along with my Kale, Spinach, and Mushroom Kugel, this baked pudding has pushed me to re-assess my affinity for sweet foods. I may never give up cookies and cake. And I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for sweet kugels. However, I now understand the allure of a savory, baked dish featuring vegetables, herbs, and noodles.
I will admit that the crunchy top of the broccoli carrot kugel is part of the allure. While cornflakes and brown sugar do taste good, this panko, butter and grated cheese mixture can stand up against that sweet topping anytime. I’m content to have a vegetarian kugel with cheese topping. However, if you prefer yours dairy-free, you can still have a delightfully crunchy top if you leave out the cheese and substitute olive oil for the butter.
Like the Kale, Spinach and Mushroom Kugel, this one has a no-boil noodle bottom layer. The noodles sit in liquid (broth in this case, milk in the kale, spinach and mushroom version) for 5-10 minutes. As they bake, the noodles soak up the liquid and presto – they’re soft. It’s magic, at least to me.
The choice of vegetables here results from my habit of buying too much food. It’s a tragedy to waste, so I knew that I’d have to find a good way to use the broccoli and carrots, along with an errant parsnip. With the Jewish High Holy Days in full swing (Rosh Hashanah just past and Yom Kippur dinner and the break the fast meal on the horizon), kugel was definitely the way to go.
You might notice that I used a parsnip but didn’t name it in the kugel title. That’s because I figure most people will use just carrots, rather than a carrot/parsnip mix. Parsnips have the same shape and consistency as carrots, but have a different taste. I say parsnip is a tad bit sweeter than carrot, while a site on organic farming says the parsnip has “an almost spiced flavor.”
The proportions for this broccoli carrot kugel fit well into a 10-inch x 6-inch or 8-inch square pan. That serves four people. If you’re making this for a larger group, double the recipe and put it in a 9-inch x 13-inch pan. It’s best straight out of the oven, but re-heats decently in an oven (for the full casserole) or a toaster oven (for pieces.) To re-heat, bake it for slightly less than the full time on the first go-round.
Savory Broccoli Carrot Kugel
This savory kugel has a no-boil noodle base and layers of broccoli and carrots (or carrots mixed with parsnips) above, topped with crunchy panko, butter and cheese.
- 2 tablespoons butter or oil, divided
- 3 ounces egg noodles
- 8 ounces broccoli (or just florets without stems) cut into small pieces
- 1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 3 ounces chopped onion
- 8 ounces carrots or carrots and parsnips, grated
- 1-2 teaspoons dried thyme
- kosher or sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup panko
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil the casserole or pan with 1 tablespoon oil. Lay the noodles down in a single layer.
Steam or microwave the broccoli just until it is slightly cooked but not soft. Drain it and mix with the Dijon mustard, then layer it on top of the noodles.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil and lightly sauté the chopped onion for about 3 minutes, just until it is translucent. Add it to the grated carrots or carrots and parsnip, along with the thyme, salt, and pepper. Layer the mixture on top of the broccoli.
Mix the eggs and the broth together and pour over the layers. Poke a few holes to assure that the liquid reaches the bottom. Let the casserole sit on the counter for about 10 minutes while you prepare the topping.
Mix the panko, butter, and grated cheese together. After the casserole has been standing for 10 minutes, put it over the top in an even layer.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
I microwaved the broccoli (covered) for about 2 1/2 minutes on high with about 3 tablespoons of water, then let it sit for another 2 minutes.
The amount of salt and pepper you use will depend on the level of seasoning in your vegetable broth. Taste the broth before you salt and pepper the carrot or carrot/parsnip layer.