Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Kugel ... and it's vegan!

Anyone who's been following along on my adventures knows I believe firmly that kugel [KOO-guhl] is one of the great foods in the universe. There are savory versions; but to me, kugel is a sweet, creamy, luscious noodle pudding ... consummate comfort food. And that, of course, makes it perfect for breakfast, for brunch, as an accompaniment to lunch, as a partner for afternoon tea, for dessert ....

I've made numerous varieties of kugel over the years - chocolate and cherry, apple and almond (which is probably my most requested recipe). They all contain rich dairy products, to make them utterly decadent.

In honor of Ann Arbor Veg Week, which started on Monday, I've taken a pledge to eat a vegetarian diet until Sunday. And as part of that commitment, I'm trying to make some vegan dishes, as well - not just ones that are inherently meat- and dairy-free, but attempts to make healthier versions of beloved favorites.

While I was contemplating what to write about for my meat-free posts, my friend/co-worker Karan brought some kugel for the office staff at lunchtime one day - it was still warm from the oven, fragrant, delicious. And it was then, while enjoying this consummate dairy dish, that I had an epiphany:

Make a vegan kugel. No sour cream. No cottage cheese. No butter. No eggs. No animal products at all.

Vegan. Kugel. These aren't words that would normally play nicely together in my vocabulary. But I like a challenge, and so off I went on my little diversion!

I made sure to buy egg-free noodles, and I knew that I couldn't use eggs to bind the ingredients together, either. I bought Tofutti non-hydrogenated sour cream, and I also bought soymilk-based yogurt. As I perused the various flavors, I chose strawberry because I had yet another epiphany: the traditional crumb topping could be made with chocolate Cheerios and chocolate graham crackers to make a dish inspired by a chocolate-covered strawberry!

I boiled, I stirred, I baked, I waited. Once the kugel cooled enough to taste it, Jeremy was a willing guinea pig. He told me that if I hadn't told him it was vegan, he would never have known that there was anything unusual about the dish. It offered the expected creaminess and crunch, and his favorite bites contained bits of fresh strawberries. He really enjoyed it!

And the best part about this? Almost everyone else can enjoy it, too, no matter their dietary issues or preferences. Use gluten-free noodles, and you've likely met requirements for everyone!

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Kugel

1 12-ounce package egg-free noodles
1 12-ounce container Tofutti sour cream
2 5.3-ounce containers Silk dairy-free strawberry yogurt
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups chopped strawberries

2 rectangles chocolate graham crackers
2 cups chocolate Cheerios
1/3 cup brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon
1/3 cup margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a 3-quart casserole dish.

Prepare noodles according to package directions; drain.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together sour cream, yogurt, sugar, salt, vanilla, and strawberries. Add noodles, stir to combine, and pour noodles into prepared casserole dish.

Grind graham crackers and Cheerios into crumbs; place into a medium mixing bowl. Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon, then stir in margarine with a fork until crumbs are moistened. Place crumbs over the noodles, and bake for 30 minutes until topping is toasted and the noodle layer is bubbly.

Let cool, then serve.

Makes 12 generous servings.


Cranberry Morning said...

Truly, I can hardly imagine a noodle pudding. But with chocolate and strawberry? It's starting to resonate...

Robin said...

I love how you figure out how to sub things in and it still comes out great.

Jenn said...

I've never had Kugel before, but I sure wouldn't pass up trying this one. How can you go wrong when there is chocolate involved?? :)

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Monet said...

Ambitious and successful! I've yet to make my own kugel before, and I've certainly never imagined making a vegan version, but truly, this looks and sounds delicious! Thank you for sharing!

Judee@ Gluten Free A-Z Blog said...

Oh My! I think you outdid yourself on this one. A vegan Kugel.. !! I love all your substitutions.. Very clever.

Chris said...

I thought kugel was an exercise that helps you control your bladder... ha ha ha, okay, I'm leaving ;)

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