i love carbs in all forms, and anyone who knows me knows that very well. any dish or dessert that uses bread as its base is fine by me (well, more than fine, let's be real). bread pudding was always my mom's favorite dessert, and even though it wasn't a treat we enjoyed all that often at home, i still can't see it or taste it without thinking of her.
this dish, clearly, is not a dessert. but bread pudding, believe it or not, works just as well with savory flavors as it does with sweet ones – i mean, this essentially holiday stuffing, but loaded with three different kinds of cheese and lots of green vegetables.
1 loaf challah bread, cut into cubes and toasted
2 cups milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste
1 small zucchini or summer squash, cut lengthwise in half, then in half again, and sliced on the horizontal (about 1¼ cups total)
1½ cups sliced asparagus (cut on the diagonal)
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup packed fresh spinach leaves, tough stems removed
1 cup packed fresh arugula leaves
1 cup ricotta cheese
¾ cup grated parmesan (or other hard cheese, like pecorino) cheese
½ cup grated gruyère cheese
a sprinkle of red pepper flakes (optional)
how to do it:
1. toast bread cubes in a 400-degree (F) oven and set aside. in a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, garlic, salt, and pepper.
2. in a second bowl, toss together vegetables, parmesan (or pecorino), gruyère, and reserved bread cubes. pour egg mixture over all the ingredients and gently mix everything together, folding carefully with a rubber spatula.
3. Let the bread and vegetables soak in the liquid for 5-10 minutes while you preheat the oven (it should be set at 375 degrees f).
4. spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray and spread bread pudding mixture into the prepared pan. dollop the ricotta evenly over the top of the dish and lightly sprinkle the red pepper flakes over everything, if you're using them.
5. bake bread pudding at 375 degrees f for about 35-40 minutes, or until mixture has set and cheese has melted. serve warm.