Savory Cauliflower Kugel

photo taken by Andrea Goh, on December 24, 2011, CC licensing

Cauliflower gets plenty of pizzazz in this kugel from sautéed aromatics and smoked paprika. A garlicky matzoh topping lends welcome crunch.

Serves about 6-8 as a side dish

For the topping:

  • 2 tablespoons best-quality olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely minced 
  • ½ cup matzoh meal or finely crushed whole matzoh (egg matzoh is especially nice here, if you use it) 
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

For the kugel:

  • 8 cups cauliflower, cut into florets and stalks roughly sliced (about 1 large head or 2 small heads) salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for greasing pan
  • 4 cups chopped onion
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped 
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup matzoh meal 
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley, dill, mint, cilantro, or a mixture) 
  • ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika or best-quality Hungarian paprika
  • fresh ground pepper to taste

 Prepare the topping: Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute (don't allow the garlic to burn). Add the matzoh meal or crumbs made from crushed whole matzoh, season generously with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until light golden brown. Remove the skillet from the heat (it will continue to cook in the hot pan) and set aside.
Make the kugel: Grease an 11x7 baking pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
 Cook the cauliflower in a large pot of boiling salted water until very tender, about 10 minutes. Drain well and cool. Using a potato masher, mash to a slightly chunky consistency. Or puree roughly or until fairly smooth, as you prefer, using on/off turns in a food processor.
 Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions and sauté, lifting and turning, until golden. Lightly salt the onions and add the garlic. Continue cooking 2 more minutes, stirring. Transfer the onion/garlic mixture (and any oil left in the pan) to the cauliflower and combine well.
 In another bowl, beat the eggs well. Stir in the matzoh meal, herbs, and paprika. Pour into the cauliflower mixture and combine thoroughly. Season well with salt and pepper to taste and mix again. Spread the cauliflower mixture evenly in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the matzoh topping evenly over the kugel.
 Bake uncovered until set in the center and lightly browned, about 35-40 minutes. Let stand about 10 minutes or so, before carefully cutting into portions.

Sephardic or Askhenazi