Savory Bread Pudding with Squash, Mushrooms & Herbs

If you have a vegetarian in your family you know the quandary of what to serve them for Thanksgiving dinner. The vegetable sides are usually amazing and a vegetarian can fill their plate with green bean casserole, salad, mashed potatoes and cranberries. But it really is nice to have a special Vegetarian Dish to fill in for the turkey – something substantial, with a little protein and a “festive” feeling. I think this Savory Bread Pudding with Squash, Mushrooms & Herbs fits the bill.

(You may want to double this recipe as carnivores will probably sneak some of this casserole too – as it is beautiful & delicious!)

Ingredients:

(serves 4 – 6)

  • 1 loaf of rustic bread or a baguette (I used a rosemary ciabatta bread)
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups of milk
  • 1 cup of grated cheese (I used aged gouda, but parmesan is good too)
  • 2 – 3 TB. of olive oil
  • 4 – 5 cups of sliced squash (butternut or delicata squash both work well)
  • 2 – 3 shallots or a small onion (sliced & chopped)
  • 1 – 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 – 3 cups of sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup of mixed fresh herbs chopped (sage rosemary & thyme)
  • 2 TB. of butter
  •  1/4 cup of walnuts
  •  1/4 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup of pomegranate seeds
  • salt & fresh ground pepper

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* Cut the bread into cubes and lay on a cookie sheet. Bake in the oven at 250 for about 20 – 30 minutes until dry & lightly toasted. Set aside.

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* Peel and cut the squash into 1/4 inch slices and lay them flat on a cookie sheet that has been rubbed with olive oil. Drizzle some extra olive oil over the slices and sprinkle with salt & fresh pepper. Bake at 350 until golden and tender and easily pierced with a knife. (about 20 – 25 minutes) Set aside.

* In a medium skillet add the olive oil over med/low heat and saute the garlic and shallots until soft and golden. Next add the sliced mushrooms and saute until soft. Sprinkle some of the herbs into the skillet and cook until just barely wilted.

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* In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Add the bread cubes to the egg mixture and toss together to coat. Grate the cheese and add half of it to the egg & milk mixture.

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* Butter a pie pan or baking dish well and pour half the egg / milk / bread mixture into it. Add half the vegetables over this along with some of the cranberries and nuts. (reserve the other half of the veggies for the top).

* Add the rest of the bread mixture to the baking dish and top with the remaining vegetables, some herbs and the remaining cheese. Top with more cranberries and walnuts pushing them down into the crevices. Dot with small pieces of the butter.

* Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for another  5 – 10 minutes until golden brown. Before serving garnish with the pomegranate seeds sprinkled over the top of the casserole and top with a few fresh herbs. Serve warm.

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This savory bread pudding is moist, eggy and delicious and it truly tastes like Thanksgiving on a plate!  Served alongside a refreshing green salad, cranberry sauce and pumpkin or apple pie for dessert, I doubt any vegetarian would miss the turkey!

Enjoy!

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