As usual, I am never happy to see the weekend come and go, but I have to say I am particularly sad to see this weekend go. I had such a great weekend at the farmhouse! An old friend of mine, the original Jersey girl, came down with her hubby on Saturday night and we had a great night catching up over wine and some yummy food. I'll admit, I'm paying for it a little today, hence the photo of the Phat Lady to you're right (which may actually be the absolute best hangover cure known to man) but it was all worth it, as it usually is! I haven't seen my Jersey girl in quite some time, but we picked up right where we left off. There was plenty of laughter, even some touching moments, and it made me really happy to be an east coast resident again.
My girl is vegetarian and as you already know, I love fall vegetables, so I took the challenge of cooking for a vegetarian as the perfect opportunity to make a savory bread pudding. I love love love sweet bread pudding and have wanted to make it before, but for some reason I thought it was going to be much harder. I stumbled upon this recipe for butternut squash and cheddar bread pudding and so I figured I had to go for it. It sounded absolutely perfect for the occasion- delicious seasonal Jersey fresh squash and hearty enough to make a meal for my favorite all veggie loving friend. And, I was completely wrong, it wasn't hard at all! It took some work but nothing a modern housewife like yourself can't handle!
Butternut Squash and Cheddar Bread Pudding
1 large butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 inch cubes (about 6 cups)
3 tbsps olive oil, divided
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt plus more for sprinkling
7 large eggs
2 1/4 cups half and half
6 tbsp dry white wine
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 day old baguette (do not remove crust), cut into 1 inch cubes (about 10 cups)
1 cup chopped shallots (about 4 large)
2 bunches kale (I actually used spinach which was a great choice!!)
8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss squash with 1 tbsp oil on rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt; bake until squash is tender, turning occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes.
Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Add half and half, wine, mustard, and 1 1/2 tsps salt; whisk to blend. Add baguette pieces and fold gently into egg mixture. Let soak 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add shallots and saute until soft, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add kale (or spinach), cover and cook 2 minutes. Uncover and stir until kale is wilted but still bright green, about 5 minutes.
Reduce oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter 13x9x2 inch baking dish. Using slotted spoon, transfer half of bread from egg mixture to prepared baking dish, arranging to cover most of dish. Spoon half of kale over bread. Spoon half of squash over bread and kale; sprinkle with half of cheese. Repeat with remaining bread, kale, squash, and cheese. Pour remaining egg mixture over bread pudding.
Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil, bake uncovered until custard is set and bread feels springy to touch, about 20 minutes longer. Preheat broiler; broil until cheese browns slightly, about 2 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and serve.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit November 2009