Savory Vegetable Bread Pudding From 'The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook'

[Photograph: Paulette Tavormina]

Okay, tag this one for cold weather. Beyond rich, this bread pudding from The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook by Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer Purcell (co-authored with Sandy Gluck) is total diet-busting comfort food.

Though the name might, at first glance, suggest some virtuousness from the addition of veggies, the vegetables in question are a handful of mushrooms and a mountain of deeply caramelized onions. So unless you count Fontina cheese as a vegetable, don't think you can slip this one past your food tracker. But it's so worth it. It's indeed savory, and also sweet from all those silky onions. The large cubes of cheese melt into pockets of pure gooey, funky pleasure, and the mushrooms add enough umami to balance the sweet creaminess of the pudding. As they say in the intro to the recipe, it recalls French onion soup, but without all that pesky broth and with more luscious custard. It would make an awesome addition to a holiday spread, though I had no problem going back for thirds even here in the thick of summer.

Why I picked this recipe: It's like filching the cheese toasts off 20 bowls of French onion soup and soaking them in heavy cream.

What worked: The texture of the bread pudding was just right: fluffy and creamy, with velvety onions and lavish cheese. It was well-seasoned and utterly satisfying.

What didn't: I could have used more mushrooms—I loved the balance the savory 'shrooms brought to the dish, and I wanted some in every bite. Also, they suggest soaking the bread in the custard for a minimum of 10 minutes, which I found to be insufficient to fully saturate the baguette slices.

Suggested tweaks: I'd just go whole-hog and double the mushrooms next time, but do that only if you really love mushrooms, like me. And I recommend letting the assembled pudding sit for at least 20 minutes to ensure custardiness throughout.

Reprinted from The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook by Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell. Copyright (c) 2014 by Beekman 1802, LLC. By permission of Rodale Books. Available wherever books are sold.

Savory Vegetable Bread Pudding From 'The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook'

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About This Recipe

Yield:Serves 6 to 8
Active time:30 minutes
Total time:1 hour 45 minutes
This recipe appears in: Savory Vegetable Bread Pudding From 'The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Vegetable Cookbook'

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the baking dish
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 large sweet onions (such as Vidalia or Maui) or Spanish onions, halved and thinly sliced (6 cups)
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 11/2 teaspoons coarse (kosher) salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crumbled dried sage
  • 1 baguette (8 ounces), halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces Fontina cheese (preferably Italian), cut into 1-inch cubes

Procedures

  1. 1

    In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and soft. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender.

  2. 2

    Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Brush a 9 × 13-inch baking dish with oil.

  3. 3

    In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, salt, pepper, and sage. Add the bread, the onion mixture, and Fontina and stir to combine.

  4. 4

    Pour the mixture into the baking dish, pressing so the bread is covered with liquid, and set aside to soak for at least 10 minutes, until the bread has absorbed most of the liquid.

  5. 5

    Bake for 35 minutes, or until the bread is crisp and the custard is set. Serve hot or at room temperature.

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