Brighten Your Noodle Kugel Dish With Labneh Instead Of Sour Cream

From the Shabbat table to Yom Kippur brunch, foodies crave noodle kugel year-round. Elevated reimaginations of the beloved classic have cropped up over the years from apple pie noodle kugel to Yerushalmi kugel with caramel and black pepper. Foodies hanker for the dish so much that an innovative version of potato kugel has even become popular, as it can be enjoyed during Passover without breaking Kosher. That's why, today, we're talking about one more elevation to take your go-to kugel recipe to the next level.

There's a line between comfortable and predictable. Stop your comfort food from getting boring, and swap the sour cream or cream cheese in your regular noodle kugel recipe with labneh.

If you haven't worked with it before, labneh (aka lebnah, labne, or labni) is a type of ultra-creamy strained yogurt traditionally made from goat milk. The dairy product is tangy, thick-set, sour, and loaded with natural probiotics. Labneh is typically used in savory applications, but it can serve as a powerful, welcome juxtaposition to your sweet noodle kugel. A sprinkle of lemon zest, cinnamon, and honey creates a dimensional profile beyond just "sweetened." This swap also totally works with savory kugel, as well. For maximum moisture, skip the sour cream and cream cheese and use a mixture of labneh and full-fat cottage cheese in your rich, buttery noodle casserole.

Tangy is the new black

This swap works whether you're enjoying your noodle kugel served warm or chilled. Warm, the texture comes out like a baked mac and cheese. Chilled, it's like a sturdy chilled layer cake, which works great as a dessert, a side dish, or even breakfast. Plus, since this hearty, festive comfort food is all baked together in a casserole dish, it's an easy dish for beginner home cooks looking to impress this holiday season — an especially easy goal to accomplish by adding tangy labneh.

Per the lore, labneh might have started as an accident. In early Middle Eastern kitchens pre-refrigeration, home cooks didn't have a way to preserve their dairy, and it naturally curdled into the yogurt-cheese hybrid foodies know and love today. These days, it's often served with a drizzle of olive oil and za'atar as a dip for pita triangles or a topping for latkes.

Admittedly, labneh may be a staple ingredient in home kitchens from Turkey to Lebanon, but it can be tough to track down in mainstream U.S. supermarkets. ARZ Labneh by Karoun Dairies is one of the more popular, widely available brands in the States. Next time you whip up a batch of noodle kugel, swing by your local Mediterranean specialty grocery shop to snag the star ingredient (besides, like, the actual noodles).