Bread pudding makes me think of dessert. Or something old-fashioned. But not a vegetarian, Thanksgiving main dish.
I’m not sure if bread pudding is quite the right name for this dish, but it is perhaps the easiest description. To me, it has a distinct flavor that is somehow reminiscent of french toast, but in a savory, non-breakfast-y way. Whatever the je ne sais quoi about this dish is, that taste you can’t put your finger on is decidedly delicious.
Prep time: 1 hour 20 minutes (40-50 minutes inactive)
Adapted from November 2009 Bon Appetit
- about 1 pound of butternut squash pieces (pre-peeled, usually available in the refrigerated produce section of the grocery store this time of year)
- 7 eggs
- 1 baguette
- 4 shallots
- 2 bunches kale
- 1 block of sharp orange cheddar cheese
- half and half (and whole milk if preferred)
- white wine (something light and not overly dry or heavily flavored if possible)
- dijon mustard
- olive oil
- sea salt
- Preheat over to 400 degrees.
- Using a bread knife or other serrated knife, cut the baguette into slices.
- Tear the slices into roughly 1 inch pieces.
- Break the eggs into a very large bowl and combine with 2 cups half and half (or whole milk), 1/2 cup white wine, 1 tablespoon dijon mustard, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- Add baguette to egg mixture and allow to soak.
- Cut squash pieces into 1 inch cubes (or the closest approximation possible with the pieces you have). (squash can be prepared a day ahead if desired)
- In a bowl, toss the squash pieces with 2 dashes of olive oil, sea salt, and pepper.
- Cook the squash for 20-25 minutes, until tender.
- Roughly chop four large shallots.
- In a large pot (stock pot if available), heat shallots and enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot over medium heat.
- Rinse and dry the kale and cut out the mid-rib.
- Coarsely chop the kale, add to the shallots, and cook for about five minutes, until the kale is wilted.
- Remove kale from heat and set aside.
- Coarsely grate the cheddar cheese and set aside.
- When the squash has finished cook, reset the oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter a medium/large sized casserole dish.
- Assemble the bread pudding in layers (from bottom), making sure each layer covers the width and length of the dish:
- half of bread
- half the kale
- half the squash
- sprinkle half the cheese
18. Pour remaining egg mixture over bread pudding and cover the whole dish with foil.
19. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove foil and continue baking.
20. Check the bread pudding after another twenty minutes. The bread pudding is done when the custard has set. The whole dish should feel a bit springy when you lightly press on it.
21. If a heartier final product is desired: place dish in the broiler for two minutes to brown cheese. If a lighter, springier dish is desired, skip this step.
22. Serve warm with a spatula for dishing out pieces.