I had an exceptionally good dessert bread pudding (butterscotch with salted caramel) at Eastern Standard a few weeks ago and it got me thinking about bread puddings in general. After reviewing recipes, I thought a savory option would be nice to try. Of course, I realized that I had already made a savory bread pudding before, I had just called it "strata".
So bread pudding or strata or whatever you want to call it, this is a great way to use up bits of vegetables, stale bread and ends of cheese. I used asparagus, caramelized onions, dill and goat cheese in this one. I can vouch for the breakfasty deliciousness of a sausage, ham and cheese version (thanks Doug!).
As I mentioned, I used challah in this version, but any delicious bread will do. It should be stale to keep things from getting too soggy. If your bread is too fresh, cut it into cubes and bake it in a 300-degree oven for about 10 minutes.
Savory Asparagus and Caramelizd Onion Bread Pudding
Serves 6-8 as a main course, more if served as a side dish
- 2 onions, peeled and sliced thin
- 1 large bunch asparagus, ends snapped off, stalks sliced into bite-sized pieces
- 1/4 cup minced dill or parsley
- 4 cups of 1-inch bread cubes
- 1/2 cup goat cheese, crumbled
- 5 eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, saute the sliced onion until well-caramelized (this will take about 20 minutes). Put into a large bowl and set aside. In the same pan, saute the asparagus until cooked through and bright green. Add to the onions in the bowl.
Stir together the onions, asparagus, dill, bread cubes and goat cheese. Pour into a 9x9 baking dish (you can use a large dish, the pudding will be thinner, is all). In the same bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Season with a little salt and pepper. Pour the milk-egg mixture over the bread cubes in the baking dish (the dish should not be full to the top as the pudding will puff up to almost double its pre-baking height). With a spoon or spatula, push the cubes into the milk mixture. Let the dish sit for 15 minutes and then sprinkle the parmesan over the top.
Bake for about 45 minutes until browned and puffy. Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving (it will be insanely hot in the center when it first comes out).
Note: This can be made ahead (up to baking it) and held in the refrigerator overnight. The bread will soak up all the liquid, but don't worry. Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 15-30 minutes (until hot all the way through).