By Ilana Meiller
The classic potato kugel is a staple dish on Shabbat and holidays. During Pesach, potato kugel makes a delicious and comforting addition to the holiday table. While there are many variations on this traditional dish — different vegetables and spices — the basic recipe consists of potatoes, onions, eggs, fat, starch and condiments. If you crave this mouthwatering pudding but feel overwhelmed by the egg overload in Passover products and meals, this healthy alternative may provide you with the break and nutrients that you need.
Over the last few years, I’ve modified several potato kugel recipes to adapt them to my vegan diet. Eggs, for example, were substituted by potato starch and matzah meal as binding agents. I also incorporated mushrooms, garlic and different vegetables, as I consume these favorites most days of the week. And I only use cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil in place of the schmaltz or chicken fat.
In addition to veganizing this dish, I decided to bake individual portions of this savory kugel in a muffin pan. No knife required! Furthermore, in my version, whole wheat matzah meal replaces refined flour matzah meal for a nutritious option. Using healthy ingredients of your choice highlights the unique flavor and creativity of this simple dish.
Chag sameach and bete’avon!
About 15 individual kugels
1 large carrot
8 oz package of mushrooms (I use baby bella crimini mushrooms)
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1⅛ teaspoon salt, divided
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
3 large russet potatoes
4 tablespoons whole wheat matzah meal
6 tablespoons potato starch
½ cup water
Preheat oven to 400 F. Clean and slice the mushrooms; set aside. Note: When the mushrooms come in large sizes, cut them into quarters before slicing them.
Peel and cut the carrot into pieces. Grate the carrots using a food processor fitted with a grating blade or use a hand grater (a food processor will definitely save you time).
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the diced onion while stirring constantly for about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the carrot, mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt, garlic powder, pepper and paprika. After about 3 minutes or when the mushrooms start to soften, add a half cup of water. Remove skillet from heat.
Meanwhile, peel and cut potatoes into quarters. I place the potatoes in a bowl with cold water to prevent them from turning brown. Next, grate the potatoes in the same food processor or use a hand grater. Squeeze out liquid and transfer to a medium bowl. Add matzah meal, potato starch, ⅛ teaspoon salt or to taste, 1 tablespoon oil and mushroom mixture to the bowl. Mix very well.
Lightly grease a muffin pan or cover with liners. Spoon the potato mixture into the muffin pan, pressing it down with the back of the spoon as you fill each cup. Bake for 40 minutes.
Ilana Meiller was born in Israel and works as a school-based mental health professional in Baltimore County.