Sorrel-Onion Noodle Kugel

They erupted in early spring, their arching dark-green curlicues and hollow stems betraying them among the lawn grasses long before their pungent waft of onion. My sister and I called these wild chives ‘onion grass,” and we ate shafts and shafts as we foraged outside our New Jersey home for four-leaf clovers and cowering purple and yellow violets.

One day my grandfather pointed out the easily recognized arrow shape of wild sorrel, a lemony green fix to cleanse the mouth of onion and too much sun. I was hooked for life.

I find the fresh tart flavor of sorrel extraordinarily refreshing, especially with rich or stodgy foods—a sour taste, like arugula, that I adore. I no longer have access to sorrel foraged or from a garden, but I am extremely fortunate to live within blocks of the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan, where beautiful fresh sorrel is usually available spring, summer, and fall—not just trimmed but completely washed as well.

The intriguing medley of flavors in this suave noodle pudding—tart sorrel and sweet, caramelized onions, mellowed by cream—was inspired by Deborah Madison’s opulent Sorrel-Onion Tart in The Greens Cookbook (which was, in turn, inspired by Richard Olney’s Simple French Food.) Serve it as a starter in a special Shavuot dinner. It also makes an elegant lunch or brunch or a fine, light summer supper.

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon canola or other mild oil, plus additional for greasing the pan
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced (about pounds; 6 cups)
  • Salt
  • 4 cups packed sorrel,
  • (6 to 8 ounces) stems removed, leaves cut into shreds or torn into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 4 ounces wide flat egg noodles (not the twisted spiral kind, which won’t absorb as much of the flavoring)
  • 4 ounces cream cheese (½ cup), softened
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Method

In a 10- to 12-inch heavy, non-reactive, lidded skillet, melt the butter in the oil. Add the onions, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt, and cook, covered, over moderately low heat, stirring from time to time, until the onions are almost clear and very soft, about 25 minutes. Remove the lid, turn the heat up to high, and sauté, tossing, until the onions are a rich gold, 5 to 10 minutes. Don’t let the onions brown. Add the sorrel, a little at a time, and cook, stirring until completely melted down, about 5 minutes. Stir in the milk, lower the heat, and simmer until the milk is well incorporated and the sorrel becomes a puree. (Don’t be alarmed when it turns an unattractive grey-green—it will taste delicious.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bring 2 to 3 quarts water and 1 teaspoon of salt to a rapid boil in a large pot. Add the noodles and cook until almost tender but a bit firmer than al dente. Drain, then rinse lightly under cool water. In a large bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, sour cream, and eggs until smooth. Add the sorrel mixture and cooked noodles and combine well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Generously grease a shallow 2- to 2½-quart baking dish (such as 8- or 9-inch square pan), and sprinkle the bottom with the lemon zest. Spoon in the sorrel mixture and smooth the top. Sprinkle evenly with Parmesan, if using.

Bake for about 1 hour, until firm and golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 20 minutes, until the kugel is set. Slice the kugel in the pan, or, if you prefer, run a knife around the edges and invert onto a serving plate. Serve warm (reheat if necessary).

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