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I’m talking about some savory bread pudding

April 5, 2008

I promised it, and here it is: Spinach and Mushroom Bread Pudding. And it was just as awesome as I thought it would be. Of course, someone at work pointed out to me that it’s pretty much strata, so all my excitement about the crazy innovation of making a savory bread pudding was kind of depleted. But my excitement about eating it was not. Strata, bread pudding, who cares? It is delicious.

I want to experiment with other additions: different vegetables, different bread, different herbs and spices. Maybe some meat (I’m telling you, everything is better with sausage). The basic recipe can be a great blank slate for all kinds of wildness. I am thrilled with the possibilities, and for once, I’m actually kind of happy that we still have some cold weather ahead, because this puppy requires the oven to be on for over an hour, and that’s just not a good thing in August.

I saw this recipe a few weeks ago on Eating Well’s website and it was like little bells went off: “Whoa, that might be the greatest idea ever!” I love bread pudding, although I haven’t eaten it in years. My first and only bread pudding experience came when I worked in an amazing French bakery in Santa Cruz, back when I was a wee little 19-year-old budding gastronomer. Initially, I found it kinda weird, but it grew on me and after awhile I was addicted. (I gotta tell you, working in a French bakery was simultaneously the greatest thing ever and totally ruinous. I ate way too much pastry and got spoiled for croissants for ever.) After I left the French bakery I never had bread pudding again, but I’ve frequently entertained ideas about making it myself. However, I very rarely make desserts because, well, I’m just more of a savory kinda person.

So savory bread pudding? I’m about it.

It did turn out more like a strata than like the silky, smooth bread pudding I remember from the bakery, but I’m going to go ahead and call it bread pudding anyway. Bread pudding full of spinach, mushrooms, red peppers, aged Gruyere and very strong swiss cheese, and slightly sour, locally baked whole wheat bread. The cheese formed a perfect crust on the top, and the bread bits on the inside were soft and just the right level of comfort-food mushy. It was delectable, I tell ya. And I want more.

Spinach and Mushroom Bread Pudding

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 c. low-fat milk
  • a few dashes of hot sauce (I used Cholula)
  • a bit of salt and pepper
  • 3 1/2 c. cubed, stale whole wheat bread
  • 1 package of frozen spinach
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. chopped red onion
  • 1 large chopped red bell pepper
  • about 1 1/2 c. sliced white mushrooms
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 c. grated Gruyere and Swiss cheeses
  • a bit of parmesan for the top

Beat the eggs well with the milk, hot sauce, and some salt and pepper. Stir the bread cubes into the milk mixture, and stick it the refrigerator to chill and soak for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F and coat an 8 x 8 inch baking pan with a bit of oil. Put a kettle of water on to boil for the custard-producing water bath, and cook the spinach according to the package directions. For me, this meant putting the spinach in the microwave for about seven minutes, and then stirring it about with a fork to loosen it up and setting it aside to await its addition to the bread pudding. You could probably do it on the stove, too.

Heat a bit of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and the bell pepper and let them cook for about four or five minutes, or until they are soft and slightly browned. Then add the mushrooms and the garlic. Cover the pan and let that all cook for another five minutes or so, and then uncover the pan and saute everything until the excess moisture from the mushrooms evaporates. Then add the spinach, and a little salt and pepper to taste, and stir it all about so everything is well mixed. Continue to cook the vegetable mixture for a few more minutes.

Take the bread and milk mixture out of the refrigerator and carefully stir in the vegetable mixture. Then mix in about half a cup of the cheese. Pour it all into the prepared baking pan, and sprinkle the rest of the cheese, and a little bit of parmesan, on top. Then set the baking pan inside of another, larger baking pan, put it in the oven, and pour the boiling water into the larger pan, until it comes about halfway up the side of the pan.

Then just let it bake for about an hour, until the eggy parts are set and the cheese is browned and you’re starving and totally ready to eat the thing that is making your kitchen smell awesome.

I want to make this again right now. And you should, too. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Crimson permalink
    April 5, 2008 6:01 pm

    Hey, this totally reminds me of this delicious sausage mushroom bread and cheese thing that trevor’s brother makes all the time, but it is more of an egg-y thing. You assemble the dish hours before and like let it soak (i think his mom does overnight) in the refrigerator. Pull out and bake until it forms a decent crust but it comes out so creamy and fluffy I thought it was a miracle. And made by Trevor’s brother? Even more amazing. I will find you the recipe, cause honestly, nothing is a better combination of eggs cheese mushrooms and sausage. I might try your pseudo bread pudding tomorrow.

  2. kim e. permalink
    April 9, 2008 12:51 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this! I love that all the ingredients are pretty much at home and I can make this really soon, I just need the cheese! Can’t wait, I’ll let you know if it comes out yum-erific! :)

  3. Bhalchandra permalink
    January 10, 2009 12:43 pm

    Wonderful for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

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