Asparagus Bread Pudding- Ottolenghi Style

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asparagus bread pudding

Asparagus Bread Pudding. Are you rolling your eyes and saying, “asparagus again, Greg?”

Well don’t. You look much cuter with your eyeballs sitting prettily in your face where they belong. Besides, it’s spring. My fancy turns to those fleeting spring veggies we all love. Big, fat, jumbo asparagus are (perhaps) my favorite of all the springtime vegetables.

Of course, you can get hum-drum (ho-hum) asparagus all year round in most places. It’s fine. I buy it. But it’s not the same. That’s because eating locally and honoring annual cycles really does make a difference with many kinds of fruit and vegetables. Artichokes, Rhubarb, Strawberries– all have a clear season that are worth waiting for. Asparagus flown in year-round from wherever it’s growing is perfectly fine. However to fully appreciate all the best qualities of asparagus it has to be eaten very quickly after picking– the sweet juice starts to dry up as soon as the spears are cut. The the longer they sit around, the drier and woodier they become. That’s why locally grown spring asparagus has no equal.

So yes. I’m doing asparagus again. This time “Ottolenghi Style”. It’s an asparagus bread pudding, or more correctly a bread and butter pudding, because it’s the chive buttered bread that drives a lot of the taste and texture of this terrific recipe. I’d never considered making a savory asparagus bread pudding before. Although there are some rather lowbrow breakfast casseroles I’ve enjoyed that could probably be considered bread pudding when served on some highbrow breakfast tables. So when I saw Yotam Ottolenghi’s version of Asparagus Bread Pudding I barely skipped a beat before I started breaking some eggs.

I used big, fat, jumbo (springtime) asparagus, but I’ll be honest this recipe for Asparagus Bread Pudding is so good you can make it all year round using hum-drum (ho-hum) asparagus. Let’s not kid ourselves hum-drum (ho-hum) asparagus is still a pretty special treat. GREG

asparagus bread pudding

Asparagus and Chive Savory Bread Pudding

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 6-8Source Adapted from Yotam OttolenghiPublished
Savory Bread Pudding

Ingredients

  • 24-30 Asparagus spears (medium to thick)
  • kosher salt (as needed for boiling and seasoning)
  • 4 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 3 clove garlic (peeled and roughly chopped)
  • ½ cup minced chives (looseley packed
  • 12 sourdough bread slices (about ⅓-inch thick) divided
  • 5 ounce crumbled feta
  • 5 large eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Prep the asparagus: Using a vegetable peeler, lightly peel asparagus spears to within about 1-inch of the tip. Trim the bottoms neatly to remove the woody ends. Fill a large pot with water; bring to a boil and add 2 teaspoons salt. Place the asparagus in the pot and blanch, uncovered, about 2 minutes. Don’t worry about fully cooking the asparagus just yet. Transfer the blanched asparagus to the ice water bath, then to a clean kitchen towel. Pat dry.

Set half the spears aside, cut the others crosswise into ¼-inch slices.

Prep the bread: Put the butter, garlic and half of the minced chives in the bowl of a mini food processor or mortar and pestle; blend until smooth. Spread half of the mixture over both sides of 6 bread slices. Lay these in a single layer onto the bottom of a shallow 3-quart baking dish (approximately 9×13). Scatter the asparagus slices and feta over the first layer of bread. Butter the remaining 6 slices of bread with the remaining chive butter. Place them, sandwich style, over the asparagus slices and feta.

Prepare the bread pudding: In a large bowl whisk together eggs, cream, milk, nutmeg, ½-teaspoon of salt and a ¼-teaspoon of white pepper. Pour over this mixture into the baking dish. Press down the top with your hands so all the bread is immersed in liquid, it might take a moment for the bread to absorb enough of the egg mixture to stop floating. Once this happens lay the whole asparagus spears decoratively on top. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place a small tray weighed down with something just heavy enough to keep the bread submerged. Refrigerate at least an hour and up to overnight.

Cook the bread pudding: Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the weight, tray and plastic wrap from the baking dish, sprinkle with Parmesan and the remaining chives; bake about 50-55 minutes (cover the dish with foil at the very end if it gets too dark). Remove from the oven; let rest 10 minutes before serving.