Thursday, April 2, 2009

Matzo, Mushroom, and Onion Kugel

Kugel is a traditional Jewish side dish that can be made out of any variety of ingredients, but generally consists of ground vegetables, a starch (often noodles or potatoes), and a thickening agent. The secret ingredient to this variation is the matzo. I thought this an appropriate time to make it, giving you a vegan idea for Passover, which comes up next week.

This recipe is a bit complicated, because a few of the steps happen simultaneously - as always, prep in advance and have everything ready to go, and you should be okay!

Place 10 (6-inch) matzo crackers in a single layer on baking sheets and bake at 375 degrees for 5 minutes. The original recipe noted 'baking sheet' singular, but I certainly needed to use two, and I don't think my crackers were bigger than they should have been!

Remove from oven and break into small pieces over a large bowl (I strongly advise letting the crackers cool down for at least a minute or two so you don't burn your fingers). Pour 2 and 1/2 cups vegetable broth and 1 cup hot water over the crackers, and let stand 10 minutes, stirring occasionally (confession: my water was lukewarm at best - I was juggling a lot over here!). For the matzo, I used Streit's whole wheat matzos: Whatever brand you choose, check ingredients just in case - some matzo crackers contain eggs.

Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 3 cups chopped onion; cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add 2/3 cup grated carr0t (choose a nice fat carrot; it will grate well in the holes of a large grater), along with 1/2 tsp. salt, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, 3 minced garlic cloves and 2 (8-ounce) packages of mushrooms. Buy pre-sliced mushrooms to save yourself a little time. If your mushrooms come whole, as mine did, make sure to clean them properly. An old roommate taught me that it's best to clean mushrooms with a wet a paper towel, instead of under the tap, rubbing along the tops and around the stem to remove any dirt - or bugs! It certainly wouldn't be vegan to eat those.

Cook all of that for an additional 5 minutes, still covered, still stirring occasionally.

Add the mushroom mixture to the matzo mixture, along with 2 tablespoons chopped parsley. Definitely use your largest bowl, or you won't be able to stir all of this to combine!

In a bowl, make the equivalent of 4 "eggs" using egg replacer. The original recipe used a combination of 4 egg whites and 2 eggs. Using Ener-G, this meant I used 2 tablespoons of powder whisked well into 1/2 cup warm water.

Add the "eggs" to the matzo mixture, and stir well to combine. Press the mixture into a 10-inch deep-dish pie plate coated with cooking spray. It should be full right to the brim! Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake another 18 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting into 12 wedges.

One wedge is 220 calories. Garnish with parsley sprigs if you like, for a pretty presentation. Unfortuantely, my kugel didn't slice neatly into wedges that held up out of the pan, I believe for two reason: first, I don't think I broke the matzo crackers into small enough pieces. Second, my vegan eggs didn't bind quite as well as real ones would have. So don't worry if you can't serve it in perfect wedges - just ladle out as side servings.

matzo crackers $3.00
vegetable broth $2.69
onion $1.06
carrot $1.01
mushrooms $5.58
parsley $1.69

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance