Bread pudding is a wonderful way to use day-old bread, and this savory version of a usually sweet treat puts spring milk, eggs, cheese and butter to great use. Plus, it’s a perfect showcase for perhaps the two greatest treasures of spring: asparagus and morel mushrooms! (For maximum flavor and nutrition, it’s worth it to use dairy products from pasture-fed animals.)
6 fresh farm eggs
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 cup loosely packed, fresh seasonal herbs, chopped
2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
Several twists freshly ground pepper
8 cups (about 1 long baguette) loosely packed fresh or stale torn bread (roughly 1-inch cubes)
3 tbsp fresh butter
1/4 cup scallions (white parts), chopped
6 to 8 ounces fresh morel (or other) mushrooms, quartered
1/2 cup garlic scapes, chopped (or a few cloves garlic, thinly sliced)
1/4 to 1/2 pound asparagus, cut into thirds
1/4 to 1/2 pound fresh spinach leaves (or other cooking greens), chopped
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
Beat together the eggs, cream and milk, then stir in the herbs, salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, pour the liquid mixture over the bread cubes and let sit for a couple of hours (or overnight in the refrigerator).
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Sauté the scallions in the butter over medium heat for a couple of minutes, then add the mushrooms and scapes (or garlic), and cook for a few minutes more, or until the mushrooms are soft. Set aside.
Blanch the asparagus pieces in boiling water for 1 minute, then rinse with cold water and set aside.
In a Dutch oven or deep baking dish, arrange the following layers: bread, asparagus, mushroom mixture, spinach, then dollops of goat cheese. For a crispy topping, the final layer should be bread. Pour the remaining liquid mixture over the top.
Bake covered for 45 minutes, then uncovered for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the top layer is golden and slightly crisp.
Fresh and Local Spring Recipes
Tabitha Alterman is a Senior Associate Editor for MOTHER EARTH NEWS. In spring, she digs making fresh butter, yogurt and cheese with yummy, creamy milk from the cows and goats that thrive on the pastures of the nearby Hudson Valley.