November 16, 2011

Livin' on the Veg

Butternut Squash & Cheddar Pudding

Kale appears to be very popular lately. Everyone seems to be on some sort of kale-kick (a good thing) with some creative way of throwing it into their meals or even sneaking it in as a snack. This cruciferous veggie is truly a nutritional powerhouse, so anyway we can get it in, we should.

I am still trying to figure out what I'd like to make for Thanksgiving this year, so I tested this out not only in honor of the currently kale-obsessed or for those that prefer greens, but also for those that think turkey is for the birds. It's one of those dishes that could be a great side dish, but could also be a hearty vegetarian main dish. It also just makes a great, everyday dinner, holiday or no holiday, like the way I am enjoying it now…and enjoying it, I am.

I cannot decide what I like most though. I'm a big fan of using up my day(s) old bread for things, so that aspect of this recipe tugged at the heart strings almost immediately. Then, there are the layers: the custardy bread layer, one sautéd and wilted kale layer, a layer of tender squash and then the grated cheese that binds together what the custardy egg mixture did not. The squash was cooked perfectly as well, no more and no less in the oven, as the cubes were this intense, fiery shade of orange and incredibly delicate and tender (perfectly balanced by the snappy taste of the extra-sharp cheddar cheese, by the way.) As for the kale? Well, I think it's the substantial layer the pudding needs; although wilted and crisped, its still rich and full-flavored. And those cheesy corners, a bit browned and crunchy, are pretty tasty, too.

I think its fair to say I will make this again. I have also jumped on the kale wagon these days, so I may actually add a bit more next time around. If you also try this, and do add more or add any other green, leafy roughage, please let me know what works out well. Enjoy.

Butternut Squash and Cheddar Bread Pudding
(adapted from an article for Bon Appétit by Molly Wizenberg, author of the blog Orangette)

*2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
*3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
*1 1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt, plus additional to taste
*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, crust on, torn into 1-inch pieces (about 10 cups)
*4 shallots, chopped (about 1 cup)
*2 bunches kale (Tuscan kale recommended, but any kale will do), ribs removed and coarsely chopped
*8 oz. extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated.

Preheat oven to 400º.

Toss squash with 1 Tbsp. of olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt and bake until squash is tender, turning and flipping with spatula occasionally, about 23 minutes.

Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Add half and half, wine, mustard and 1/2 tsp. coarse salt and whisk to blend. Add baguette pieces; fold gently into mixture. Let soak for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté until soft, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add kale and cover and cook for 2 minutes. Uncover and stir until kale is wilted but still bright green, about 5 minutes (the kale will be a little crunchy, its OK).

Reduce oven to 350º. Butter a 13x9x2 inch baking dish. Using a 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 cheese. Repeat with remaining bread, kale, squash, and cheese. Pour remaining egg mixture over bread pudding.

Cover the pudding with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake uncovered until custard is set and bread feels springy to touch, about 20 minutes more.

Preheat broiler and broil pudding* until cheese browns slightly, about 2 minutes. Cool for a few minutes and then serve.

*I actually completely forgot about this step. It was getting late and I was hungry! And you know what? While I'm being honest, I completely dumped the bowl of leftover, drained egg mixture down the drain… just as I realized I needed to pour it on top of the pudding, as the final step. That would have made for a more custardy-type appearance and taste, and probably less quiche-like. Next time, I promise!

1 comment:

Tracy said...

I think I am going to try this for our thanksgiving dinner! Its just going to be a small group and this sounds right up my alley! Thanks Audra!!