Asparagus and Morel Bread Pudding

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Asparagus and Morel Bread Pudding

6 generous servings

A variation of this recipe is a spring favorite of the Kingsolver-Hopp household, featuring the seasonal mushrooms that author Barbara Kingsolver likes to call Molly Moochers. The dish can be chock-full of vegetables, depending on how much you use.

Green garlic (immature garlic whose leaves are still green) is simmered with the milk for flavor. Dried mushrooms will work for this dish as well.

Adapted from Deborah Madison's "Local Flavors" (Broadway Books, 2002).

Ingredients

1head green garlic, coarsely chopped (may substitute 8 to 10 cloves regular garlic)
3cups whole or low-fat milk
1pound loaf firm white or multigrain bread, cut into thick slices (preferably stale)
Sea salt
1to 2 pounds peeled asparagus, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into13/-inch pieces and soaked in cold water
3tablespoons unsalted butter
1large shallot, finely diced (2 to 3 tablespoons)
12/to 1 pound morel or chanterelle mushrooms, cleaned and coarsely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
4large eggs
13/cup finely chopped parsley
3tablespoons finely chopped tarragon or marjoram leaves
2cups freshly grated Fontina or Gruyere cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-by-12-inch baking or gratin dish.

Combine the garlic and milk in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then remove from the heat and set aside to steep (5 to 8 minutes).

If the bread is not stale, lay it on a large baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes until crisp (but not hard, or the pudding will be mushy). Break the bread into chunks and put it in a large dish. Pour the milk through a strainer over the bread (discarding the garlic) and let it sit while you prepare the vegetables, turning the bread occasionally so that it soaks up as much of the liquid as possible.

Fill a large skillet23/of the way with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lightly salt the water and add the asparagus pieces; cook about 3 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.

Melt half the butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for 1 minute, stirring, then add the mushrooms. Increase the heat to high and cook for several minutes, stirring, until the mushrooms brown in places and exude their liquid. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Break the eggs into a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the parsley, tarragon or marjoram, 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Add the soaked bread and any liquid left in the dish, the asparagus-mushroom mixture and its juices and23/of the cheese, mixing well. Pour into the prepared baking or gratin dish and use a spatula to even it out. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and dot with the remaining butter. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until puffed and golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.

NUTRITION {vbar} Per serving: 541 calories, 29 g protein, 47 g carbohydrates, 27 g fat, 15 g saturated fat, 213 g cholesterol, 958 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber. Recipe tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; e-mail questions tofood@washpost.com.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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