Puffed and golden, this savory bread pudding emerges from the oven with the earthy perfume of shiitake mushrooms.
Served with fresh fruit and slices of bacon or ham, it's a delicious centerpiece for a brunch buffet. It also performs double duty as an elegant side dish for a rib roast or steak. If you happen to have leftovers, they reheat well in the microwave.
From Food to Live By: The Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbook by Myra Goodman
butter (for greasing the baking dish)
stale bread (cut into 1/4 inch cubes)
Earthbound Farm Organic Baby Spinach (about 13 packed cups)
grated Gruyere cheese
olive oil or butter
fresh shiitake mushrooms (stems discarded, caps cut into 1/4-inch slices)
half & half
Freshly ground black pepper
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
Butter a 9x13-inch baking pan. Spread the bread cubes in the prepared baking pan and set aside.
Place about a quarter of the spinach in a large, preferably nonstick, skillet over medium-low heat and cook, turning frequently with tongs, until it wilts, 3 to 5 minutes. (If you're not using a nonstick skillet, add 1 tablespoon of water to the spinach.) Continue adding spinach to the skillet until all of it has wilted.
Spread the spinach evenly over the bread cubes. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the cheese on top of the spinach.
Heat the olive oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and shallots, and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Scatter the mushroom mixture evenly over the spinach.
Place the eggs, half-and-half, and salt in a medium-size bowl, season with pepper to taste, and whisk to blend. Pour the egg mixture over the mushroom mixture and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Use a spatula or spoon to press down on the bread pudding, making sure all of the ingredients are moistened by the egg mixture.
Bake the bread pudding until puffed and golden, 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit on a wire rack until firm, 10 minutes. Serve warm.