Summer lends itself to many fine meals. Inspiration can come from the farmers’ market, local CSA (community supported agriculture), grocery store, friends, family, your own garden, and even TV. While it would be great if recipes just popped into our heads, there is nothing wrong with finding inspiration elsewhere. In some cases, it may be just what you need to try something new or even better, rethinking a favorite, but in a new light.
Folks, it happened to me today. While working from home, I had the TV tuned to Food Network as I worked. It was more just as background noise and I plugged through emails and workshop materials. But my ears perked up when I heard ‘bread pudding’. Why on earth would there be a recipe for bread pudding during the middle of summer? What I know as bread pudding is a dense, heavy, sweet dessert that is commonly made during fall and winter. Intrigued, I listened for more.
Giada De Laurentiis was speaking about making a lunch for her girlfriends and behind her was a warm, summer sky. Okay…now I am hooked. As I watched, she successfully changed my opinion of what bread pudding was. Or more correctly, what it could be. Instead of a sweet dessert turn it into a savory side dish. And what better way to do that than to use fresh ingredients that are in season right now?
Inspired, I went into my own garden and did some harvesting. Then a trip to the grocery store was in order since I did not have everything on hand. Now with fresh produce, my own backyard eggs, and good artisanal loaf of bread, I was ready to create something that tasted of summer.
This recipe is inspired by Giada De Laurentiis’s Tomato-Basil Bread Pudding.
Savory Summer Bread Pudding
- 8 oz. good crusty bread, cut into 3/4″ cubes
- 2 Tbl. olive oil
- 3/4 C. shredded zucchini
- 3 – 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 14 oz. heirloom tomatoes cut into bite-sized pieces
- 3/4 C. fresh basil chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
- 1 C. Parmesan, shredded
- 1/2 C. Ciliegine (small cherry-sized) fresh Mozzarella balls
- sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- 6 eggs
- 1/2 C. milk
- 1/2 C. cream
Apply butter to a 9 x 13″ baking pan using a pastry brush. Set aside the pan. Cube bread and set aside.
Place large saute pan over medium heat. Add olive oil. When the oil begins to ripple, add shredded zucchini. Cook for 5 minutes while stirring the zucchini. Stir in tomatoes, garlic, and thyme. Cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then remove pan from heat. Stir in cubed bread and basil. Transfer this mixture to your buttered (greased) baking pan. Top with cheeses.
In a medium bowl, add eggs, milk, and cream. Whisk together until thoroughly combined. Season with salt (1/8 tsp.). Pour over ingredients in the baking pan. Place mixture in an oven pre-heated to 400F. Bake for 23 – 28 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a knife inserted into the savory bread pudding comes out clean.
Serve hot and enjoy. Feel free to use other fresh vegetables you have on hand such as bell peppers and onions, but please use herbs to help provide flavor. This savory bread pudding makes a great side dish for summer meals. Best of all, it is quick and easy to prepare, but yet tastes like it took hours to create.