Sunday, April 22, 2007

Savory Asparagus Bread Pudding

One 1-pound loaf sourdough or other crusty bread3 cups milk1 cup chicken or vegetable broth3 large eggs1 teaspoon salt1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper1/2 teaspoon dried dill1 pound asparagus3 to 4 ounces oyster mushrooms, coarsely chopped1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan or casserole with nonstick cooking spray (hs note: I greased the pan w/ butter).

Using a serrated knife, cut the bread into 3/4-inch slices, then stack 4 or 5 slices of bread. Cut them into 3/4-inch cubes. Repeat with the remaining bread and put all of the cubes in a large bowl.

In medium bowl, whish together the milk, broth, eggs, salt, pepper, and dill until combined. Pour the mixture over the bread.

Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus and cut the spears into 1-inch pieces. Add them to the bread along with the mushrooms and shallots. Fold everything together well to combine the ingredients. Spoon them into the prepared pan and pat down the top to compact the ingredients.

Sprinkle the cheese evenly ever the top.

Bake the pudding for 45 minutes, or until the top is browned and crisp and there is no liquid in the center. Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting into portions.

Ann's Stress Saver Tip: Look for frozen asparagus tips and bags of unseasoned bread cubes to save some prep time.

Ann's Eye Appeal Tip: Instead of mushrooms, ad 1 cup sliced pitted black olives for color contrast and a flavor complement to the asparagus (hs note: I went this route).
Serves 6-8.