Asparagus and Chive Savory Bread Pudding is a vegetarian main course take on a timelessly comforting dessert. It’s delicious enough to serve as the star of the plate or works well as a savory side dish too. The recipe is inspired by London chef Yotam Ottolenghi, where this delicious casserole is likely to be called Bread and Butter Pudding.
- 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
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 9x13). 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.