I do not recall encountering bread pudding prior to making my home in the South. It was not a traditional dessert served at family dinners, nor was it seen all that much on restaurant menus in my part of the Midwest.
I recall a bread pudding make its appearance only once. My grandmother brought a homemade bread pudding to a holiday gathering. I don’t recall much about that dessert, but I do recall no one really expected a bread pudding to make an appearance. She made it because that is what sounded good to her, and I could certainly appreciate that.
I can also appreciate this savory bread pudding. Up until now, I had only considered bread pudding as a type of dessert. As it turns out, this was not all that bright on my part. My mom has made what essentially amounts to a savory bread pudding to enjoy on Christmas morning for as long as I can remember. Except we call it a casserole.
Her traditional bread pudding, aka egg casserole, uses a loaf of bread and features cheddar and ham. This savory bread pudding uses a baguette and features Gruyere and vegetables. It’s like one of my sentimental favorites got a delicious modern update. Enjoy!
Savory Bread Pudding
- 1 stale baguette
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 2 cups grated cheese (Gruyere preferred)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/2 large red onion
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1 package frozen spinach, thawed
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- Cut a stale baguette into 1-inch cubes. You should have about 8 cups of cubed bread. If the bread is not stale, simply dry it on a sheet pan in the oven at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with the mustard, thyme leaves, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.
- Whisk in the milk and the cheese.
- Placed the bread cubes in a large bowl, then pour the liquid mixture over the bread. Stir to coat, and allow the mixture to soak into the bread for 15-30 minutes. You may need to stir the bread a few times as it soaks.
- While the bread soaks, prepare the vegetables.
- Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
- Saute the chopped onion and mushrooms until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about one more minute.
- Stir the cooked onion and mushroom mixture and the thawed spinach into the soaked bread. Be sure to squeeze as much water out of the spinach as possible before stirring it into the bread.
- Use the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to grease a 9 x 13 baking dish, then pour the bread and vegetable mixture into the prepared dish.
- Bake at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes. The bread will be browned and the mixture bubbling when it comes out of the oven.
This dish can be prepared up to one day in advance. Simply refrigerate the mixture until ready to bake.