If you’re reading that headline in bewilderment, you should know that I had the same question: what the hell is a noodle ring? I thought it had something to do with pool noodles or it was some kind of bizarre sexual aid. Thankfully I was wrong (that could have made for an awkward blog post today). A noodle ring is simply a pasta dish that takes noodles along with bread crumbs, eggs and milk (sometimes cheese) and you bake them in a bundt pan which creates a ring mold. When it is finished, you pop it out and you have an elegant presentation of a lovely noodle dish. That didn’t sound too bad.
A noodle ring sounds like it could be from one of those retro-cookbooks from the 1950’s that tried to fancy up all the simple things in our pantry. There’s something old fashioned to it in concept and in simplicity. To make mine, I found a recipe from a blog called the Foodie Patootie which used pretty simple ingredients: spaghetti, frozen broccoli, bread crumbs, eggs and milk. I had everything I needed except for the broccoli so I made a quick trip to Clement’s to get what I needed (I should be customer of the month there). When I got home, I cooked the pasta and the broccoli, then tossed them together in a bowl along with some butter, red pepper flakes and bread crumbs. I poured all that into a bundt pan, packed it down a bit, then poured some beaten eggs and milk over the top. It went in the oven in a water bath for about 45 minutes and it came out looking pretty good. After it set for about 5 minutes, I popped it out of the pan and I had made myself my first noodle ring.
The color of a noodle ring, or at least this one, is a little odd. If I saw this on a buffet table I would be a little afraid because it has an off-white, beige hue to it and it doesn’t really scream appetizing. But when you look closer you see the spaghetti and you start to think that this dish might not be all that bad. The recipe said to top it with your choice of sauce so because I had some leftover cream in our fridge, I made a quick cheese sauce with some parmesan cheese which got nice and thick as I let it cook. I had also bought some parmesan and panko encrusted chicken cutlets from Clement’s for dinner too and I cooked them up in our cast iron skillet. When I served it all, I topped everything with the cheese sauce. To serve the noodle ring, you cut into it as a slice, just like you would any bundt cake.
While I was making dinner, Lola was in the shower and she happened to come out right as the broccoli had just finished cooking which had filled the kitchen with the smell of steamed broccoli. That’s where I almost lost her on my noodle ring adventure. She’s not a huge fan of cooked broccoli and to know that this is what was coming for dinner put a bad taste in her mouth. I went ahead with finishing everything up and Lola went back to doing her thing. When everything was ready and I put her plate in front of her, she had a genuine feeling of, “WOW – what is this!?!” That’s the surprise factor of the noodle ring. Being drenched in cheese sauce doesn’t hurt it either. She dove right in. She even got past the taste of the broccoli which she even admitted added to the overall taste. It was good. Like cooking a lasagna or even a kugel, the pasta fuses together so you get hefty bites. You’re not twirling the spaghetti around your fork, you’re just sticking your fork right in for a bite. If I were to make again, I would probably incorporate cheese into the ring itself, but all in all, this was a big hit.
Later, Lola went into the kitchen to do the clean up and she got her first look at the noodle ring in its natural fresh-from-the-bundt state. She was impressed and had no idea that this was what I made. I explained that I made it in a bundt pan and then she started chuckling. The word bundt has made Lola laugh since she first saw the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. In the movie, the mother of the groom offers a bundt cake to the mother of the bride who is Greek and not familiar with the American dessert. In the exchange, the Greek family has a tough time trying to say the word bundt. It made Lola laugh when she saw it originally and still makes her laugh today. Any time she sees a bundt pan, she’ll start saying “it’s a bundt” in her finest Greek accent. When I said tonight that I essentially made a noodle bundt, she was tickled and she started saying it again. Pretty soon she was in a full on laugh at herself saying “noodle bundt.” That’s life with Lola -always a big laugh hiding in the most simple places.
So Noodle Ring Day came and we conquered it. These kind of days can be the most fun when you have no idea what it’s about but you end up making something that’s pretty tasty and fun. Getting some laughs out of the whole process helps too. They’ll be more of these kind of days ahead, so I’m going to be open to new experiences and new tastes. If Tuola’s family can enjoy a nice bundt cake, then we can certainly enjoy whatever the holidays have in store for us.
Next Up: National Ambrosia Day