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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Finally, A New Use for Stale Bread

We all do it.  The bread looks so appealing so we pick up a loaf.  The problem is that, at least in my house, there's often more bread than there is interest, and I end up having to throw some of it away.  If it's a plain bread, I can make a bread pudding, either for dessert or for breakfast.  Sometimes I grind it up into fresh breadcrumbs.  But what to do with those savory leftovers?

Mark Bittman has come up with an idea.  How about savory bread pudding?  He was on the Today Show yesterday morning just as I was debating about what to serve with my roast chicken.  What a great idea!  And, even better, I had all the ingredients in the house, including a stale loaf of bread.  Mark made his savory pudding with a rustic loaf but I had olive so I just went with the flow.

It's easy enough to make a bread pudding. It took just minutes to mix up and about 45 minutes to bake in a water bath.  It was gooey and cheesy and all those things that aren't necessarily good for your body but are good for your soul.  Really yummy.

Now that I have the basics of the savory bread pudding down, I plan to experiment.  Stay tuned.

Savory Bread Pudding
(Adapted from Mark Bittman)

*  Note:  Mark Bittman used dried tomatoes but I only had sun dried tomatoes in oil.  I drained them and then chopped them up.  He also used only mozzarella cheese.  I had an Italian cheese blend so that's what I used.


3 cups milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped coarsly
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 thick slices of good day old bread, crusts removed if very thick
3 eggs
2 cups grated Italian cheese blend
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup pitted and coarsely chopped black olives
Boiling water as needed

Heat the oven to 350.  Warm the milk, butter, tomatoes, and a good sprinkling of salt and pepper in a small saucepan over low heat just until the butter melts.  Meanwhile, butter an 8-inch square baking dish and cut or tear the bread into bite-sized pieces -- not too small.

When the milk mixture has heated, put the bread cubes into the pot and let it sit for a few minutes, occasionally submerging any pieces of bread that rise to the top.  Beat the eggs briefly in a large bowl.  Add the bread and milk mixture, the cheese, basil, and olives and stir to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour the whole mixture into the baking dish.  Set the baking dish in a larger baking dish and pour boiling water into the pan to within an inch of the top of the dish.

Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until a think knife inserted in the center comes out clean or nearly so; the center should be a little wobbly.  Run under the broiler for about 30 seconds if you want it browned a bit.  Serve hot.

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