How to turn pasta scraps into a comfort-food bake
Lokshen, or noodle kugel, is a Jewish pasta casserole traditionally made on holidays with wide egg noodles and a custard made from eggs, cottage cheese and soured cream. It makes a quick, savoury, one-pot dinner or sweet, stodgy dessert that uses up pasta odds and ends or leftover cooked pasta.
Food socialite Felicity Spector says, “It’s a bit like bread-and-butter pudding, but made with pasta instead of bread, which sounds terrible but is actually really delicious, especially with cinnamon; I always put raisins in, too.”
My take on it is a sweet version topped with stale crushed cereal and nuts; crushed biscuits also make a yummy topping.
Stodgy, comforting and economical, noodle kugel can be sweet or savoury, and this sweet version is upcycles leftovers and affordable ingredients into a decadent and gooey dessert. It’s even delicious the next day, eaten cold for breakfast or reheated for tea. It will keep in the fridge for up to five days, and can be reheated in the oven or microwave until hot right through.
2 large eggs
100g softened butter, plus extra for greasing
300g soured cream, cottage cheese and/or cream cheese
75g brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp sea salt
450g cooked pasta (ie from about 250g dried pasta)
75g raisins, or other dried fruit (eg cherries, cranberries, chopped apricots)
For the topping (optional)
30-50g cornflakes (I use organic ones, which are heavier), lightly crushed
50g pecans, walnuts or other nuts
1 tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
20g melted butter
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, softened butter, soured cream, cottage cheese and/or cream cheese (I use a mixture of all three, but just one will also work), brown sugar, cinnamon and sea salt.
Stir the cooked pasta and raisins or other dried fruit (eg cherries, cranberries, chopped apricots). Grease a small, 20cm x 20cm baking dish or pan with butter, then fill with the kugel mixture.
For the topping, if using, mix the lightly crushed cornflakes with the nuts, brown sugar, cinnamon and melted butter, then sprinkle evenly over the pasta and bake in a 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6 oven for 35 minutes, until set. Serve hot, cold or at room temperature.