Savory Bread Pudding with Swiss Chard, Leeks and Mushrooms

“Give me yesterday’s bread, this day’s flesh, and last year’s cyder.”
~Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
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For such a humble dish, this was amazing.  I won’t tell you how we gushed and went on about it because you’d think I was exaggerating, but this was a really delicious vegetarian meal that I made twice in one week, it was that good.  If you have any leftover bread, like half a baguette or sourdough loaf that is going stale,  stick it in the freezer, and then pull it out when you have the greens to make this.  I love the economy of it, as well as the taste!  
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Swiss Chard ‘Bright lights’
This is another recipe from The Essential New York Times Cookbook, which I am currently reading.  A great cookbook that I highly recommend.  I’m giving you the recipe the way I did it…a little easier than the way it was presented in the cookbook.  If you want the original, you’ll have to pick up the book!
Savory Bread Pudding

1/2 pound crusty bread (sourdough or French) cut into 1-inch cubes (favor the cubes containing crust)
1/4 pound Swiss cheese, grated (I used Gruyère)
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 pound wild mushrooms (I used button) sliced
2 cups chopped spinach
1 cup chopped Swiss chard leaves, plus 1/3 cup chopped Swiss chard stems
1 leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced and washed well
1 large egg
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Put a large pot of water on to boil.
2. Combine the bread, Swiss cheese, and half of the Parmesan cheese in a large bowl.
2. Melt 2 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the mushrooms and saute until tender, 3-5 minutes.
3.  When water is boiling, add Swiss chard leaves and stems, spinach and leeks and blanch for one minute.  Turn into a strainer to drain.  Squeeze all the water you can out of the greens and leeks.  My method is to place 4 paper towels, one on top of the other, then turn the greens and leeks onto the paper towels, wrap up and squeeze all the water out that you can.
4. Place the greens in the pan with the mushrooms and saute for 1-2 minutes.
5. Place greens and mushrooms in the bowl with the bread and cheeses.
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6. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease an 8-inch square baking dish with remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.  Beat the egg in a medium bowl.
7. Combine the milk and cream in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Remove from heat.  Whisking vigorously, add about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg, then return the mixture to the pan and whisk until blended.  Add to the bread mixture and stir well.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  
8. Transfer the mixture to the baking pan, pressing gently on the surface.  Bake the pudding until set, about 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven.
9.  Heat the broiler with the rack about 6 inches from the heat.  Unmold the pudding onto a baking sheet, sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese, and place under the broiler until golden brown, 1 – 3 minutes.

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