Leek Bread Pudding
Leeks are the sweeter, more delicately flavored cousins of the more familiar onion, and reminiscent of garlic or chives. Leeks contain generous amounts of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, making the vegetable a wise addition to a healthy diet. This savory bread pudding incorporates caramelized leeks layered with toasted bread, cheese and custard, making a nice side dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
The flavors in this savory bread pudding are fairly subtle so feel free to increase the amount of leeks, add other sautéed vegetables and fresh herbs, or add some tangy Parmesan. Don’t be afraid to innovate!
Makes one loaf. Double the recipe to fit in a 9×13 baking dish and increase baking time to 1-1/2 hours.
1 cup leeks in 1/2-inch thick slices, white and light green parts only, cleaned and rinsed
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) butter
6 cups crustless brioche or Pullman loaf cut into 1-inch-cubes
2 teaspoons finely chopped chives
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 large eggs (3 eggs if doubling the recipe)
3 cups coconut milk (okay to substitute whole milk, heavy cream, half-and-half or a combination thereof)
1/2 cup shredded Gouda or cheddar cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
Place a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the leeks to the pan. Season with salt, and sauté until leeks begin to soften, about 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in the butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are very soft, about 20 minutes. Adjust salt to taste.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While leeks are cooking, spread bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake until dry and pale gold, about 15 to 20 minutes, turning about halfway through. Transfer bread cubes to a large bowl, leaving the oven on.
Add the leeks, chives and thyme to the bowl of bread and toss well. In another bowl, lightly whisk the eggs, then whisk in milk, garlic and a generous pinch of salt.
Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese in the bottom of a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Add 1/2 of bread mixture and sprinkle with another 2 tablespoons cheese. Add the remaining bread mixture and sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Pour in the milk mixture, covering the bread. Gently press on bread so that the milk soaks in, letting some bread cubes protrude. Let rest 15 minutes.
Bake until pudding is set and top is brown and bubbling, about 55 to 65 minutes. Serve hot or cold.
If you make this recipe, snap a pic of your dish and hashtag it #kellylenihancooks. I'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!
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