Servings: 8 to 10
Like quiche or frittata, bread pudding is really just another great way to turn custard—eggs and dairy—into a filling dish. And though it’s better known as “strata,” that term is a bit limiting: savory bread pudding isn’t just sausage and bread and cheese— it can be a fresh, bright-tasting dish packed with herbs, seasonal vegetables, and other flavorful ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 2-qt. baking dish or nine 1-cup ramekins.
Place the bread cubes on a large baking sheet, and bake until lightly toasted, 8 to 10 minutes. Let the bread cool slightly, then transfer to a bowl. Melt the 2 Tbs. butter, and drizzle over the bread cubes; stir to coat.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and ham and cook, stirring constantly, until crisp and brown, 1 to 3 minutes for prosciutto or ham.
Transfer ham to a paper towel-lined plate. Drain all but enough fat to just cover the bottom of the pan, and return the pan to the heat. Add the mushrooms and asparagus and cook, stirring, until tender and browned, almost tender, about 6 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 1 to 2 minutes more.
Reduce the heat to low, add the garlic, and sauté just until softened and fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, Worcestershire, thyme, sun-dried tomatoes, 1/2 tsp. salt, and pepper to taste. Whisk to combine.
If using a baking dish, arrange half of the bread cubes over the bottom of the baking dish. Scatter half of the ham, half of the vegetables, and half of the Gouda over the bread. Repeat with the remaining bread cubes, meat, vegetables, and cheese. If using ramekins, in a large bowl, toss together the bread, ham, vegetables, and Gouda. Divide mixture between the ramekins.
Spoon or pour the custard evenly in the baking dish or ramekins. Use the back of a spoon to press down lightly to moisten. Let stand for 10 to 20 minutes.
Bake until the pudding has puffed, is set in the middle, turns golden brown, and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes for the baking dish, or 25 to 30 minutes for the ramekins.
Let cool for 15 to 20 minutes, and serve warm. Alternatively, cool completely, refrigerate, and reheat individual servings in the microwave, or in the oven at 350°F for 20 minutes.
This recipe/method is great. Actually, I do something very similar for my Turkey dressing/stuffing. I use turkey stock instead of half and half. Bread, vegetables, and meats depend on cook's choice. :-)
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