Apple Barley Kugel

I have an upfront disclaimer about this kugel: I have no idea what kugel tastes like.

All I know about kugel is this:  I saw Ina Garten make it on the Food Network one day, and I wanted to eat it.  Kugel is a Jewish casserole that can be sweet or savory, typically made with egg noodles and eggs.  Ina made a sweet kugel, full of cheese and sugar.  I will take any opportunity I can get to mix a little sweet into dinner, so the idea of a sweet kugel casserole holds a huge appeal for me.  Both cheese and sugar for dinner?  I think that gets a hell yes. This is my extent of knowledge and forethought about this dish.

I took a general inspiration from my vague memories of Ina’s television segment, figuring out this combination by trial and error.  A kugel typically uses egg noodles, and while you can too, I am just not a huge fan.  I much prefer a chewier pasta or grain.  This time I used barley as my base and loved it.  Barley adds extra chewiness and nuttiness to the casserole that I love.  For the sweetness I included apples and currants, two of my favorites.  With a dash of almond extract, this is a great savory but sweet casserole.  While I am not 100% certain this kugel is completely authentic, I can vouch for its tastiness.  And it’s a perfect winter dish: a warm casserole, with a little sweetness.

PS: 25 days until the big day, 1 weeks until my vacation starts!  I am so looking forward to enjoying this long break with lots of holiday cheer.  Mom better get her shopping shoes and elastic pants on.

APPLE BARLEY KUGEL
From Cinnamon Freud
INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup dried pearled barley
1 cup water
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon sour cream
1/4 cup cottage cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 apple, chopped
1/4 cup currants
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Season with a generous pinch of salt and add pearled barley.  Lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until barley is barely al dente.  Drain off any remaining water and chill in refrigerator.
In a large bowl, beat eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese, salt, cinnamon, sugar, and almond extract together. Fold in apple, currants, and barley.  Grease a small baking dish or two individual baking dishes.  Pour kugel mixture into pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until set and golden brown.  Cool for 5 minutes.
Serves 2 as a main dish, 3-4 as a side dish.
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