Asparagus Morel Bread Pudding

May 23, 2014 | By | Reply More

asparagus morel bread pudding

asparagus morel bread pudding

One of the best things ever about seasonal eating is that each season has a few superstar combinations of foods that just happen to be around for a limited time. Sometimes, their timing is so short, you need to act quickly or the magic won’t happen again until the next year. One of those combinations is asparagus and morels which appear together only in the spring, and only briefly. The best way to take advantage of this wonderful flavor partnership is to showcase it in a savory bread pudding.

I make this asparagus morel bread pudding every year, maybe twice in the spring before the stars of the show suddenly disappear from the local farmer’s markets. I first tried it when I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver which is wonderful inspiration for any aspiring locavore. It remains one of my favorite stories of a family’s journey to live a self-sufficient, sustainable, but no less delicious life. I’ve since tweaked the recipe a little, and it always knocks our socks off. The recipe makes a lot of food, but the leftovers are fabulous.

asparagus morel bread pudding

Purple asparagus and fresh morels from my local farmers market

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

1-pound loaf of good quality firm white or multi-grain bread

8 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed

3 cups whole milk

1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch long pieces

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided, plus more for the dish

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 pound of fresh morels, cleaned and coarsely chopped

4 eggs, preferably pastured

Handful of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

3 Tbsp. chopped tarragon

1 cup grated fontina cheese

1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

This is a time consuming recipe, so enlist a little help and start on a bottle of dry white wine while you take your time in the kitchen.

Step one: 

Preheat oven to 350° and butter an 8×12-inch baking dish.

1-pound loaf of good quality firm white or multi-grain bread

Cut or tear the bread into chunks and lay on a baking sheet overnight so it gets a little stale. If you don’t want to start a day early, you can simply toast the bread chunks in a 350º oven for about 10 minutes.

Step two:

8 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed

3 cups whole milk

Combine the milk and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and then off the heat. Cover and let stand for about 10 minutes. Place the stale bread chunks in a large bowl, strain out and discard the garlic, and pour the garlicky milk over the bread. Toss lightly and let sit, tossing occasionally, while you prepare the vegetables.

 

P1040112Step three:

1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch long pieces

Put a pot of water over medium-high heat and salt it liberally. Add the asparagus pieces and cook for 3 minutes, until the asparagus is crisp-tender. Drain immediately and rinse well with cold water to help stop the cooking. Set asparagus aside.

Step four:

3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 pound of fresh morels, cleaned and coarsely chopped

In a skillet, heat one tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Add the chopped shallot and cook for about 2 minutes, until shallot begins to soften. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the morels. Cook until the mushrooms are browned in spots and they begin to release their liquid. Off the heat and set aside.

Step five:

4 eggs

Handful of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

3 Tbsp. chopped tarragon

1 cup grated fontina cheese

1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

asparagus morel bread pudding

I love spring dining on our patio

Whisk the eggs with the chopped herbs and a little kosher salt and freshly ground pepper in a large bowl until combined. Add the bread and garlicky milk mixture, the asparagus, the shallot mushroom mixture and most of the cheese. Mix very well, and transfer to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle on the remaining cheese and dot with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the bread pudding is puffy and golden brown.

Let cool slightly and serve with a crisp green salad. I like to top each serving with a sprinkling of fresh spring herbs like chervil and chives.

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Category: General, Main Dishes, Recipes, Spring

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