Parsnip Leek Potato Bread Pudding
It almost seems silly to slide this dish, as delicious as it is, across the table to you right now when it would seem spring has officially come to visit my neck of the woods (as I write, there’s a thunderstorm rolling through!). You see, this rustic savory bread pudding is full of winter delights – parsnips, sweet potato, farm fresh eggs, and leeks – when you might very well be able to snag some fresh greens already from your progressive local farmer who’s been putting his or her hoop house to good use. But let’s face it, crisp tender green things are still few and far between and with the cool rainy days sure to come yet, a hearty helping of this bread pudding will do you a world of good.
When you sit and contemplate the ingredients in this recipe, it’s hard to think of a dish that would provide a more balanced meal. I say this to possibly justify the fact that I ate the entire casserole dish of it myself over the course of last week; it was such a wonderful microwaved lunch! In any case, it has loads of protein from the eggs, lots and lots of vitamins from the vegetables (including much needed vitamin C with the wave of sniffles going around), and ample carbs to rev you up. And, if you can be a real optimist, there’s a good bit calcium from the heavy cream.
Individual ingredients and their notable merits aside, it’s the entirety of this dish that makes it worthy of your dinner table of lunchtime Tupperware. The flavor is rich and the texture comfortingly soft and filling. And the aroma while it’s in the oven is sure to draw a hungry crowd, eager to dig in. It’s worth noting though that I actually enjoyed this bread pudding more after it had spent a night ruminating in the fridge, its flavors playing leapfrog and tumbling together.
Oh, before I let you scurry off to gather ingredients or go back to your busy work day, just remember that now is the time to sign up for a CSA share for the coming season so you can get a box of delicious produce every week without fail. Don’t put it off as the CSAs around here at least fill up fast. Here’s a link to a national directory of farms that provide a CSA option. You can also check for others at www.localharvest.org. And if you live in Philadelphia, last I heard, Henry Got Crops (a part of the Weavers Way Farm sites) still had shares available. Soon there’ll be asparagus and rhubarb and tender greens aplenty. Yum!
P.S. – The amazing pottery pieces in the photos today are handmade by the talented guys at Ripple Pottery out of New Hampshire. Aren’t they beautifully organic in their colors and shapes?
Parsnip Leek Potato Bread Pudding
A Straight from the Farm Original
1 large or 2 small parsnips
1 medium sweet potato
1 large leek
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 T. butter
1 C. vegetable stock
1/2 t. fresh rosemary, finely minced
1 t. dried marjoram
1/2 t. ground cumin
1 loaf of challah bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 C. heavy cream
3 T. melted butter
1 t. fresh grated nutmeg
1 C. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Begin by scrubbing the parsnips and sweet potato well, peeling (if desired), and coarsely grating using the large holes on a box grater or food processor. Set aside.
Slice the leeks very thinly, discarding the dark green parts. Place in a bowl of water and swish to remove all grit and sand. Drain off water and lay leeks on a paper towel to dry.
In a large skillet, heat the oil and two tablespoons of butter until hot and melted. Add the prepared vegetables and stir briskly to coat evenly. Continue to saute for 2-3 minutes; when vegetables begin to look a little dry, add the cup of vegetable stock and turn down the heat to medium low so vegetable can simmer. Add the rosemary , marjoram and cumin and stir well. Continue cooking for 10 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and translucent. Take off the heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes before mixing with the remaining ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
In the biggest bowl you have, whisk the heavy cream, three tablespoons of melted butter, eggs, and nutmeg until well combined. Add 3/4 cup of the cheese, holding back the remainder to use on top of the bread pudding. Stir in the vegetable mixture and then fold in the bread cubes.*
Prepared a shallow 2 quart baking dish by spraying with non-stick spray. Carefully pour in the bread mixture and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Spray another piece of foil with non-stick spray on one side and lay that side down over top of the bread pudding, loosely folding over the edges of the dish. Bake for about 50 minutes until golden brown and puffed up. Remove foil and return to oven for another 5-10 minutes until top is beautifully browned and crunchy.
*At this point, you can cover the bowl in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and put it in the fridge overnight if you’d like to prepare this dish in advance. The bread pudding is also excellent as reheated leftovers.