Dana Treat – Treat Yourself

Asparagus and Leek Bread Pudding

Posted June 26, 2010

Asparagus and Caramelized Leek Bread Pudding
The Farm to Table Cookbook
6 to 8 servings

10 ounces (about 7 cups) French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off
Ice water for blanching
1 medium leek
4 tsp. olive oil
4 cups half-and-half
8 eggs
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. chopped fresh lemon thyme
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

1.  Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and let stand overnight to become stale, or quick-dry in a 200ºF oven for 40 minutes.

2.  Preheat the oven to 350ºF and butter a 13-by-9-by-2 inch baking dish.  Bring a large pot of water to boil, add the asparagus, and cook until it is bright green, about 2 minutes.  Drain and blanch immediately in the ice water; remove and set aside.

3.  Remove the dark green part of the leek and discard.  Halve the leek lengthwise, rinse well between layers, and thinly slice.  In a sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the leeks and sauté until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes.  Add a few tablespoons of water and continue to cook for 5 minutes, or until the leeks are caramel colored and tender; set aside.

4.  In a medium bowl, whisk the half-and-half, eggs, lemon zest, and thyme.  Put the bread cubes in the prepared baking dish and sprinkle on the leeks.  Arrange the asparagus on top and pour the egg mixture over all.  Press with a spatula to submerge the bread cubes; sprinkle the top with the cheeses.

5.  Cover the dish loosely with foil and bake until the edges are golden brown and a butter knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Cool for 20 minutes, cut into squares, and serve.

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