To connect with the energy of Purim, we masquerade in costumes that reveal aspects of our inner self which otherwise remain hidden. The theme of concealment permeates the day. It’s a wonderful opportunity to express a side of ourselves that we may not often share.
The joy of Purim can even reach out and transform humble produce. The creamy smooth texture of a butternut squash pudding glows with a bright orange hue. A zucchini kugel packed with grated marrow is a silky portion of custardy goodness. Smooth broccoli kugel is a resplendent green. And mushroom or spinach turnovers shaped into phyllo triangular pockets convey a hidden filling which allows us to rejoice in the Purim joy bite by bite.
Vegetables often get a bad rap. They too want to shake off their eat-them-cause-they’re-good-for-you reputation and dress up as dessert. Everyone loves dessert. By preparing wholesome dishes to send in our Purim gift baskets, we also help those we love guard their health as well as have their dessert too.
Why not let your Mishloach Manot consist of a tray bearing a trio of vegetable kugels? A generous square of each accompanied by some grape clusters or orange sections make a lovely presentation welcomed at the festive meal. In taking the time to prepare a homemade delight, everyone in the household sees, and smells, the effort. What a deliciously wholesome way to increase love and friendship between Jews.
Butternut Squash Kugel
Prepare a 12” x 10” by 2” deep baking dish by lining it with parchment paper.
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into large chunks
4 eggs, separated
1/3 cup margarine or oil
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. white pepper
1 cup flour
Cook squash by steaming over boiling water for 15-20 minutes and set aside. When cool enough to handle, place the chunks in a food processor and puree until smooth.
Preheat oven to 350.
Beat the egg whites until stiff and set aside.
In a mixer, cream margarine or oil and add the sugar and beat for a few minutes until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the egg yolks gradually and continue to mix.
Add the squash puree and seasonings and blend.
Mix in the flour and stir just until flour is absorbed.
Remove the mixing bowl and incorporate the beaten egg whites by hand until just blended so as not to deflate the whites.
Pour the pudding into the pan and bake for 50-60 minutes or until lightly golden on top and well set.
This kugel can be eaten hot or at room temperature and freezes well.
Zucchini or Broccoli Kugel
Grated zucchini or chopped broccoli form the body of these lovely puddings. A food processor makes quick work of this job. A bechamel or white sauce bind both and egg yolks and beaten whites are added, like a souffle.
3 tblspns margarine
3 tblspns flour
2 cups unsweetened almond or soya milk
½ tspn salt
¼ tspn pepper
8-10 medium zucchini, grated or 2 lb bag of frozen broccoli coarsely chopped
2 onions, finely chopped
2-3 tblspns olive oil
1 tspn salt
½ tsp pepper
4 eggs, separated with the whites stiffly beaten
Prepare a 12” by 10” by 2” deep pan by lining it with parchment paper.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
To make the white sauce, heat the milk to just below scalding.
In a saucepan, melt the margarine over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring continuously until the paste bubbles a bit and the flour is cooked but not browned. Add the hot milk and cook until the sauce thickens. Lower the heat and cook for a few minutes more. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a deep sided skillet. Saute the onion for a few minutes or until translucent and then add either the zucchini or broccoli.
If making the zucchini kugel, it has to be cooked for about 20 minutes because it gives up a lot of moisture.
If making the broccoli kugel, saute for about 5-10 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Blend in the white sauce and egg yolks, one at a time.
Fold in the egg whites.
Pour the pudding in the pan and bake for about 50-60 minutes.
Phyllo Triangles with Mushroom Filling
makes about 2 dozen
The shape of these phyllo triangles remind me of Haman’s three cornered hat.
2-3 red onions, thinly sliced
4 lbs mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and thinly sliced
3 tblspns olive oil
½ tspn salt
¼ tspn pepper
1 lb of phyllo dough
2-3 tblspns margarine, melted
First make the filling by heating the oil in a large saut? pan. Fry the onions over medium heat for a few minutes and then add the mushrooms. Turn the heat to medium high and cook until all the moisture has evaporated, 20-30 minutes. Set aside and let cool.
When working with phyllo dough, you must work quickly and methodically. If the dough dries out, it becomes very difficult to handle.
On a clean dry worktable, take the dough out of the package and unroll it. Have your melted margarine and a pastry brush at hand. Cover the dough with a slightly dampened sheet of paper towelling.
Take a sheet of phyllo and lightly paint it with the marg. Take 2 more sheets and do the same.
Cut into 3 strips lengthwise. You now have 3 strips, 3 sheets thick.
Place a spoonful of filling in the bottom corner of each strip. Fold the corner to meet the other side to enclose the filling. Begin to fold the packet like a flag along the strip until you reach the end. This is your first triangle. Take heart. It goes quickly once you get the hang of it. Continue until the dough or filling is used up. Brush the top of the packet with a little marg.
Place the packets on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned.