Savory Bread Pudding with Spring Vegetables and Herbs
Because this custardy vegetable pudding is prepared in individual gratin dishes, it’s ready in about 20 minutes (a large bread pudding can take up to an hour), which makes it a great choice for a weeknight meatless meal, perhaps served with a a simple watercress and orange salad. If you can’t find fresh morel mushrooms, substitute 1 ounce (30 g) of dried morels reconstituted in 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) very hot water for 30 minutes.
- 1/2 lb. (250 g) day-old artisan bread, crusts cut off, bread cut into 3/4-inch (2-cm) cubes
- 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 1/2 lb. (250 g), thin asparagus, ends trimmed, spears cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces
- 1/4 lb. (125 g) morel mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
- 6 eggs
- 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml) heavy cream
- 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml) milk
- 2 Tbs. minced fresh chives
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh basil
- 1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
- 1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
- 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- Sea salt
- 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C). Spray four 2-cup (16-fl. oz./500-ml) gratin dishes or shallow baking dishes with cooking spray and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Divide the bread cubes evenly among the dishes.
In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the asparagus, mushrooms and thyme, and sauté until the vegetables are just tender, 3 minutes. Spread the vegetables over the bread cubes, dividing them evenly.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, milk, chives, basil, tarragon, lemon zest, white pepper, nutmeg and 1/4 tsp. salt. Pour the egg mixture into the gratin dishes, dividing it evenly. Using the back of a large spoon, press the bread and vegetables down so the bread absorbs the egg mixture. Sprinkle the cheese over the top. Bake until the puddings are set in the center and a butter knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams Sonoma Weeknight Vegetarian, by Kristine Kidd (Weldon Owen 2014)