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Noodle and Cheese Casserole

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In Sephardic and North African tradition, Chanukah is a time for many types of dairy foods. This is to honor the story of Judith, who slew the general Holofernes, after feeding him a meal of salty cheese and wine. Ashkenaz cooks too, remember the heroic widow by serving sour cream with their traditional latkes.

Now, as much as everyone loves latkes, nobody is going to eat them for eight nights in a row. It's a good idea to have something else both dairy and delicious in the repertoire. If children will like it, and most of the preparation can be done a day before serving, so much the better.

This casserole is a more flavorful variation on the macaroni and cheese which is a staple of American menus. Although it contains chiles, they are mild ones, and the dish is not at all spicy. The sauce can be mixed in a food processor during the time it takes for the noodles to cook. If you do the preparation a day before, then pop it in the oven upon arriving home from work: it will be bubbly, browned, and ready for a midweek Chanukah party in the time it takes to make a large salad and set the table.


1 pound wide egg noodles
1 tin condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 tin condensed tomato soup
1 pint nonfat sour cream
1 pound reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese, cut in large chunks
1 8 ounce-sized tin diced green chiles
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 4 ounce-sized canister of French fried onions


Pour 3 quarts of water in a 4 quart pan, cover, and place it on a high flame to boil. When the water is boiling, add the noodles, and cook according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the water.

Place all the other ingredients, except the French fried onions in the bowl of a food processor which has been fitted with a metal blade. Process the mixture until it is fairly smooth.

Stir together the cooked noodles, cheese mixture, and reserved cooking water until thoroughly mixed.

Spray a three or 4 quart casserole dish with vegetable oil spray. Spread the noodle mixture evenly in the dish, smoothing the top. Sprinkle the French fried onions on top of the noodle mixture. Cover with a lid, or sheet of tinfoil.

At this juncture, you can either bake the casserole for one hour at 350 degrees, or store it in the refrigerator and bake the following day. If you want a crunchy crust on top, remove the lid after 45 minutes of baking time, so it will crisp in the last 15 minutes.

Copyright 2002 Eddy Robey
Excerpts from It's Not Just Chicken Soup.
hosted by the Gantseh Megillah

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