Savory Bread Pudding with Butternut Squash, Chard & Cheddar ♥ Vegetarian Recipe

A savory bread pudding, two layers of good whole-grain bread studded cubes of butternut squash and cheddar cheese, with a layer of Swiss chard in between. Can be made ahead, much like a breakfast strata. Perfect for a vegetarian Thanksgiving entrée or a weekend brunch or a holiday buffet supper. It could also stand in as the 'stuffing' at Thanksgiving dinner.

This vegetarian recipe is the first of several in the 2009 collection of Thanksgiving vegetable recipes.

How to strike fear into a cook's heart? "Alanna, I'm bringing so 'n' so to Thanksgiving dinner. He's a vegetarian." Even though I was a vegetarian myself for many years, and often cook simple vegetarian and vegan meals, there's something about meat, well, that's celebratory.

The good news about this dish? It tastes good to everyone, carnivores and vegetarians alike. It feels special. It tastes substantial. And it smells divine while it's baking! One of my book club tasters walked in the door asking, "What smells so good in here?" and another, "You could bottle that aroma ..."

Here's what makes this bread pudding work:
  • Proportions - This is an 'unbready' bread pudding, light on bread and heavy on vegetables. I use about a 4:1 vegetable:bread ratio.
  • Good Bread - A flavorful, slightly dense whole-grain bread is perfect for bread pudding. It doesn't 'deflate' with the weight of vegetables and custard, it holds its own. And it's not just filler, the bread itself actually tastes good.
  • Contrast - The butternut squash and the cheddar are quite creamy. In contrast, the chard is slightly astringent, that's a good thing!

RECIPE for SAVORY BREAD PUDDING with BUTTERNUT SQUASH, CHARD & CHEDDAR

Hands-on time: 50 minutes
Time to table: 2 hours (can be made ahead)
Serves 8 as a main course, 16 as a side dish

CHARD
2 tablespoons butter
2 large onions, chopped
2 large bunches Swiss chard, washed well, stems discarded, leaves chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

CUSTARD
3 eggs, whisked
1-1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup cream
2 tablespoons good mustard (what is 'good mustard'?)
2 teaspoons ground sage
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
A pinch of cayenne pepper
A generous sprinkle of freshly ground pepper

TO ASSEMBLE
1 butternut squash, washed well, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch cubes (aim for 1-1/2 pound of squash cubes, see how to cut, peel & cube a butternut squash and keep all ten fingers)
1/2 pound whole-grain bread, crusts on, cut into half-inch cubes (see Kitchen Notes)
8 ounces cheddar cheese, cut in 1/3-inch cubes
The set-aside cooked onions

CHARD In a large skillet, melt the butter til shimmery. Add the onions and cook until just soft. Set aside half the onions. Add the chard a big handful at a time and stir to coat with fat. Let it cook a minute or two, then add another handful. When all the chard is added, let cook until soft. Add salt and set aside.

CUSTARD Mix all custard ingredients together.

ASSEMBLE (If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375F.) In a large bowl, combine the squash, bread, cheese and cooked onions. Transfer HALF the mixture to a lightly buttered baking dish about 8x11 or 9x13. Arrange the cooked chard evenly on top, then the remaining squash-bread-cheese mixture. (See Notes, if making ahead, you may choose to stop here.) Gently pour custard mix over top, being careful to wet all the bread pieces, especially.

BAKE Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven. If any pieces of butternut squash are still firm, gently push them into the custard. Cover and bake for another 15 or so minutes. Let rest for about 10 minutes or so before serving. Reheats well.

TO PREP AHEAD This bread pudding can be made ahead in two ways. It can be fully assembled, then baked a few hours later. Or the bread-squash-chard-cheddar mixture and the custard mixtures can be prepped the day before, then combined just before baking. With the first method, the bread pudding is slightly crusty on top, very good. With the second, the bread pudding is more custard-y, also very good. Cook’s choice!


KITCHEN NOTES
Bakers, consider a batch of homemade bread for this bread pudding. I'm especially fond of this Light 'n' Fluffy Whole-Grain Bread but also this Whole Grain Bread (without the beets).
This is a great base or 'concept' recipe, begging for adaptation. I think cornbread would be a fabulous substitute for whole-grain bread. I wanted to add fennel to the chard and corn to the overall mixture but ran short of room. Sweet potatoes? Of course. Kale or spinach instead of chard? Naturally. For a meat version, I'd add cooked pork sausage, chunks of cooked bacon or cubes of smoked ham.
Note to Vegetarians
A Veggie Venture - Printer Friendly Recipe Graphic








Looking for healthy ways to cook vegetables? A Veggie Venture is home to hundreds of quick, easy and healthful vegetable recipes and the famous Alphabet of Vegetables. Healthy eaters will love the low carb recipes and the Weight Watchers recipes.
© Copyright 2009

23 comments:

Oh my. That looks just heavenly! I hastily bookmarked this recipe. Alanna, this just might have to be my main dish this Thanksgiving.

And did you say vegetarian entrees all month?! YAY!

I'm always looking for substantial main dishes for vegetarian holiday meals; our kids are vegetarians, so we tend to go all-veg for the holidays. A dish that has great mouth feel and satisfies the meat-eaters in our family goes right to the top of my list.

I agree that meat is celebratory at a festive dinner, but this bread pudding more than compensates for any missing meat. The colors and rich combination of bread, squash, chard and cheddar sound wonderful. Thanks for the recipe.

Any suggestions on what else might work in place of the chard? We are living overseas and can't get that. I can get spinach, though, but wasn't sure if it would work as well. Anything else you think might work instead? I love this idea; I think I might end up experimenting some with this.

I just found your website and the recipes all look very good and you have a lot of healthy ones. However, I noticed that the WW points aren't always accurate. For example, corn, winter squashes, and cooked carrots are not zero points. Thanks for letting me share.

Nupur ~ Oh good, I always love to pique the interest of my favorite vegetarian! ;-)

Lydia ~ Something substantial is the issue, isn't it? I think your meat eaters would love this --

Lynda ~ Oh you've so captured this dish, it's really something special.

Ana ~ Any green would do, they all have a little astringency, don't they? The only thing that would change is the cooking timing. Collard greens and mustard greens, say, take longer to cook. But since this is done in the skillet, there's no getting it wrong. Good luck!

Anonymous ~

I follow a sort of 'old school' way of counting Weight Watchers points. I add up all the calories in a dish, even the ones that might qualify as 'free' in the Weight Watchers world, then I divide by the number of servings and THEN calculate Weight Watchers points.

For some things, like corn, I've actually taken and ear of corn (which most of us would think of as a 'serving' when we eat an ear of corn) and cut off the kernels to see how much corn is actually eaten.

For vegetable side dishes, my serving sizes are actually larger than what other systems might call a serving. I make no distinction, a pound of vegetables is four servings. This makes it easier to compare one vegetable to another, pound for pound. I also make notes when that seems 'skimpy' -- roasted potatoes, say, roast down to something so that the portion size feels small. It's my way to be 'real' about Weight Watchers and points.

If you're using the Weight Watchers 'slide' rule, I've found that it appears to hit 1 point when a serving size is right on the cusp of switching over from 0 to 1. Since I'm calculating points mathematically, not visually, one of these, as I calculate it, may well fall into 0 points while you 'see' it as one. Since I provide not just Weight Watchers points but all the nutrition data, you're welcome to calculate points however works for your own life and health objectives.

I hope that you appreciate the effort that goes into calculating nutrition information for each and every dish on both my websites.

Finally, with all due respect, you might send your complaints to other sites, even big commercial sites, that opt NOT to provide nutrition information at all.

How many stems or ounces of Swiss chard is in a bunch? I still have chard growing in my garden outside, but it doesn't grow in bunches! Thanks for your wonderful site!

Anonymous ~ Duh, sorry, I should have provided that information. There's maybe a 8 or 10 stems in a bunch here, you know of course that the greens really cook down.

PS Thank YOU for reading!

I made this recipe last night and cut it in half, since there is just my husband & I. I ended up with ~14 oz of squash, used two eggs instead of three, and cooked it in an 8"x8" pan. It seemed a bit shy on custard. Any suggestions?

BTW, we both really enjoyed this dish, and Hubby LOVED it. He wouldn't normally go within 10 feet of wilted greens, so that's really saying something.

Anonymous ~ Aii, you and your husband have made my day, be sure to tell him! :-)

With both this bread pudding and with the similar Asparagus Whole Wheat Bread Pudding, I learned that the dish turns out more custard-y if it's combined just before cooking, versus beforehand. Would this apply to your situation? It actually seems opposite to me, that it would be more custard-y by mixing ahead of time.

No, I poured on the custard immediately prior to baking. Perhaps I had a bit too much squash. At any rate, it was very good.

What a beautiful recipe!! I had a couple questions about variations. Do you think roast squash could work or would roasting the squash cause it to be overcooked (I always hear how roasting brings out amazing flavors of the squash)? Also, if using spinach instead of chard how much spinach would be sufficient? Last question, I had a similar dish at an event that used gruyere cheese do you think the same amount of gruyere could be used as cheddar.

Monique ~ So glad you like it. I think roasting the squash is a great idea, it'll keep cooking once combined with everything else but won't get direct heat so wouldn't have the chance to burn, though it might begin to 'melt' a little, not a bad thing! Use the same amount of spinach, just be sure to use curly spinach, not baby spinach, which is great for salads but doesn't cook well. Gruyere would be awesome, yes use the same amount, I think.

I made this for dinner last night. It was awesome! Even, my husband, who always claims that he doesn't really like squash, liked it.

I think that maybe the squash should be chopped even a bit smaller than 1/3" or else precooked a bit before putting it in the casserole. The squash on the top layer was not quite as tender as I would have liked, even though I squished the squash bits down into the custard two separate times.

You aren't kidding about the prep work time. I actually *like* chopping veggies and it was a bit long for me. But totally worth it.

This recipe is definitely a keeper for me, though I would try to do something about the squash. Maybe steam in the microwave for a couple of minutes before mixing it in?

This was so delicious! It was a big hit as the main course for the vegetarians for Thanksgiving, and for the carnivores as well. I had to sub delicata for the butternut squash. The only bad part was every one else took all the leftovers! Thanks for sharing this excellent recipe.

I made this recipe to accompany Christmas Dinner and it was fabulous! I think next time I will steam the squash slightly before using it in the recipe (or perhaps roasting it as someone else mentioned). At least the squash that will be on the top layer. But even so, this has made it into my "favorite recipe" collection! . . .seashell

I have added this to my Thanksgiving menu. In my produce delivery, I already have two bunches of spinach and a bunch of mustard greens. I was thinking of adding either a combo of both or just the spinach...will that be ok you think? I have so many veggies to get through right now I'm not sure I want to go out and buy more chard, but I can.

Talula Fairie ~ You know, my initial reaction was ' no' - especially to the mustard greens, which fall into the category of 'sturdy' greens versus the 'tender' greens like chard and baby spinach. But on second thought, so long as you cook the greens until they are soft and fully cooked, I think you'll be fine. I would cook the spinach and mustard greens separately if the mustard greens are sturdier than the spinach.

Good luck, I think you'll love this bread pudding! Now I'm wanting to add it to my (already over-ambitious) Thanksgiving menu!

Happy Thanksgiving!

This came out amazing. I ended up using spinach only, I'm sure the mustard greens would have been just as good but my spinach needed to get eaten faster and my casserole was ready to be baked. The flavors are amazing!!!! It was a huge hit at my house and is definitely a recipe I'm going to be making again and again and again. YUM YUM YUM.

-Lindsay (I don't know why it's still displaying my name as talula fairie, I swear I changed that...).

I've used some recipes from your site and they often turn out. However, this one was particularly great. I still have some left over that I'm looking forward to eating. Thanks for sharing!

Jaime

Yay - thanks for sharing the good news! For spring, do be sure to try the Asparagus Bread Pudding, it uses the same proportions of bread:milk:cheese.

I found a pumpkin that I bought last fall that had gotten pushed to the back of the pantry and forgotten but that was thankfully still good. While pondering what to do with it I remembered this recipe and that I also had a bag of collards in the fridge. I just wanted to let you know that it is just as delicious with pumpkin and collards and it was the times I made it with butternut and Swiss chard. Every time I make it I wonder why I don't make it more often :-)

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna