Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Savory Bread Pudding

     My friends and I are lucky enough to get to spend some weekends together in a wonderful little town in Colorado called La Veta. Weekends in La Veta are about as happy and peaceful as you can get: not a plan in sight, except certainly a game called Z Ball, art projects, time in nature, and most definitely delicious food. As a group, we divide and conquer meals and everyone always brings tantalizing meals. It is a time of feasting, grazing, and best of all, sharing.
      Eating is wonderful, as is getting to cook, but there is a massive amount of joy that comes along with getting to feed other people. It is a small way to give them a part of yourself, your love, and your appreciation. There has been a rise in the trend of people eating on the fly, or while distracted by books and technology. However, I believe that this same rise has sparked a feeling of increased community when we do make the time to come together.
        Getting to feed a crowd is a wonderful treat because you get to share your heart with many in a moment of gratitude for each other, a warm belly, and the gifts of the earth. This recipe is a way that anyone can get to enjoy that amazing feeling. It is warm, comforting, filling, and homey. However, it is also very easy to make and a great way to feed a crowd without spending tons of money. You can serve it warm out of the oven at breakfast, alongside some fruit and a hot cup of coffee. Then the leftovers make a perfect lunch of dinner alongside a simple salad of greens.
        Bread Pudding is most often associated with sweetness, but I am telling you, a savory bread pudding will bring out a whole new meaning to this in your mind. It is cheesy and custardy bread, with thick pieces that still have some bite to them on top. There is brightness from the vegetables that add a depth of flavor as well as a balance to the heartiness of the dish. The spices add a nice pick me up, which compliment beautifully with the cheese. Sinking you teeth in feels like soulfulness and it continues on that way all the way down to your belly. I am telling you, sweet bread pudding is fine and good, but its time to give it a twist and see just what a different potential eggs, milk and bread hold together. A perfectly, messy scoop of this in a bowl is a non-pretenscious breakfast path to a person's heart. 
*Makes 1 full 3 quart (9x13) dish
3-4 baguettes
2-4 TBSP olive oil
1 small to medium yellow squash, cut into small quartered pieces
1 small to medium zucchini or mexican squash, cut and quartered
1 jalapeno, deseeded and diced
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 C grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 TSP salt + extra for sautéing veggies
1/4 TSP pepper + extra for sautéing
1/4 TSP chili powder + extra for sautéing
2 3/4 C whole milk
8 eggs
1 C shredded cheddar cheese

1. Dice the baguettes into rounds and then quarter them, so they are in medium-sized chunks. Lay them out for 8-24 hour to allow them to stale. You can speed up this process by putting them in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes, and then continuing to let them stale for a few hours, making sure they cool completely.
2. Preheat your pan, add the oil, then the onions, and lightly salt and pepper them. Sauté until they become translucent lightly. Next add the jalapeno, garlic, and squashes, and continue to sauté them. Finally turn off the heat and add the cherry tomatoes, mixing them so they just barely cook in the residual heat. Salt and pepper to taste.
3. Once the veggies have completely cooled, add them and the cubed bread to a greased baking dish, mixing together to distribute evenly.
4. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs; then add the milk, salt, and pepper, and whisk until combined. Finally, add the cheese and give a final whisk to mix it in.
5. Pour the mixture over the bread, cover with tinfoil, and refrigerate the pudding for 8-24 hours.
6. Remove the pudding from the refrigerator and allow it to warm up for 30 minutes; meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350.
7. Bake the pudding for 34-45 minutes, until it has fully set and the top has lightly browned.
8. Remove from oven and allow cooling for 10 minutes before digging in...and then going back for seconds.

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