Nostalgic noodles

For this year's Food Issue, Food & Drink Editor Meaghan Habuda reminisces about her mom's recipes.

click to enlarge No Yolks pasta calls a bottom-level shelf on the noodle aisle home. - Meaghan Habuda
Meaghan Habuda
No Yolks pasta calls a bottom-level shelf on the noodle aisle home.

My mom didn’t grow up eating No Yolks, but, thanks to her, I did. Established in 1976, the decades-old brand of pasta was (and still is, really) a staple of our household’s pantry — and more importantly, a fond food memory packaged in an iconic red-and-yellow bag that transports me back to my childhood. Even when I stroll past its unassuming home, a bottom-level shelf on the noodle aisle, while shopping for groceries as an adult.

Mom, who has a down-home and no-frills cooking style, started using No Yolks because of their cholesterol-free status.

“They’re supposed to be better for your heart,” she tells me by phone.

Now, I’m not trying to turn this into a debate about the nutritional claims of No Yolks, or whether or not egg yolks are less healthy than their egg white counterparts; what we knew of eggs back in the day is widely different than what we know now, right? The cornerstone of No Yolks, however, is that it specializes in an alternative to your average egg noodle: egg white pasta made from a blend of wheat flour, corn flour and egg whites.

As a kid, I was pretty convinced Mom was the only mom who purchased No Yolks on the regular — either the broad or the extra broad variety — but this kind of perceived exclusivity made my family special in a way. It was like these glorious strands of noodz, which I’d sneak a sample (or three) of straight from the pot before they made it to their final destination, were an affordable, readily available kitchen secret no else had discovered yet.

And a tasty one at that.

The two signature recipes Mom continues to make with No Yolks are chicken noodle casserole and beef stroganoff — my then-favorite being the latter, not to mention a dish I’m certain I could vegetarianize but would, TBH, much rather enjoy as-is. Funny enough, in true Habuda’s mama fashion, both dishes call for a can of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup, another nostalgic ingredient her cupboards are never not stocked with.

According to Mom, beef stroganoff (No Yolks smothered in a combination of grilled steak cubes, beef broth, cream of mushroom soup, fresh ’shrooms and some sour cream incorporated at the end) and chicken noodle casserole (a blend of No Yolks, grilled chicken breast, mixed veggies and cream of mushroom soup) are a breeze to pull off with her go-to egg white pasta. Why? The fluffy noodles that hold up well in an array of meals, for one, cook faster than heavier types of dried pasta on the market — roughly seven to eight minutes rather than 15 to 20. But Mom likes to switch up her noodz routine, too, adding that she also graviates toward the brand for variety’s sake. 

What’s more, No Yolks pasta is visually different than other noodles out there. Especially if you’re a home cook who’s going for an aesthetically pleasing presentation.

“They just look cute on a plate — all of the wiggleys,” Mom says. 

Couldn’t have put it better myself. 

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