Zucchini bread pudding

I can’t say I was always a fan of bread pudding. I have a thing with eggs. If anything is too eggy tasting, especially if it’s burnt, I don’t like it. But I am picky like that. Sometimes custardy dishes have the same effect, and sometimes the thought of soggy bread just doesn’t sound good. But I have come to appreciate a nicely done bread pudding (either savory or sweet) the last couple of years. I am still daydreaming about the one we had at Figs in Boston…

Anyway, this recipe turned out to be the most wonderful weeknight dinner on a cold winter night. And I got to use up half a loaf of artisan French bread that had started to get old.

The original recipe calls for butternut squash, but I had a feeling I would like zucchini better. I also roasted it quite a bit longer than it said to, because I know that it takes around 30 minutes to really get a good caramelized zucchini, and that’s where all the flavor is.

So here’s my version. It’s one of my favorite new recipes of 2010 (ha).

Zucchini bread pudding
adapted from Simply in Season

2 zucchini, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 eggs
2 egg whites
2 cups milk
1 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated (1/2 for the liquid part, 1/2 to sprinkle on top)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
9 cups day-old French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spread out the zucchini pieces on a nonstick pan, sprinkle them with salt, pepper and a little olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes, or until the sides start to get caramelized. Turn the oven down to 375.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium and saute the onions and garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil. Remember that both of these veggies will need to cool a bit before you add them to the eggs (so it doesn’t scramble right away).

Mix up your wet ingredients – the eggs and egg whites, milk, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Stir in the cooled veggies. Then add the cubed bread. Let this sit for 10 minutes. Then pour into a greased 2-quart baking dish.

Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Mmmmm, cheese.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes, or until the custard is set and the bread crumbs are starting to get browned and crunchy.