Don’t Touch That Dial: It’s a HEALTHY Bread Pudding!

Butternut Squash, Kale and Parmesan Bread Pudding. Very tasty, very satisfying and very vegetarian!

Bread Pudding. The mere mention makes me want some. I love it sweet…the traditional way with whisky sauce (no raisins or pineapple in that please), or chocolatey—I had a chocolate banana bread pudding once that almost made me swoon—or cinnamon caramel-y with pecans and bourbon whipped cream will do nicely, too. I love it savory…that Ham, Fontina and Spinach bread pudding could yet be my downfall. They are all fantastic, and all, alas, rather caloric. In my mind, the words “Healthy” and “Bread Pudding” just don’t go together.

Until now.

Enter Butternut Squash, Kale and Parmesan Bread Pudding. Yes, you heard me right. Healthy and meatless. Nope, not even the slightest spec of bacon or pancetta in this baby, either. It’s a vegetarian meal in a dish. And I love it. And my husband loved it. My waistline loves it. And even better? I think you just might love it, too!

Butternut Squash, Kale and Parmesan Bread Pudding
(Adapted from a recipe in Cooking Light, Serves 6)

3 1/2 cups peeled butternut squash cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt for squash
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
4 cups of fresh kale that has been washed, stemmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
3 large eggs
2 large egg whites
2 cups low fat milk (I used 1%)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg
1 cup fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
9 cups (about one baguette) 1 inch cubes of French bread, preferably a crispy baguette or day old bread

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cover a cookie sheet with foil and oil it lightly. Arrange the squash in a single layer on the foil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the squash is tender. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 350 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for a minute, then add the kale and saute until it is wilted and just tender. Remove the mixture from the heat and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and egg whites to combine, then add the milk, 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, nutmeg, and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese and whisk to combine. Stir in the squash and the onion/kale mixture. Add the bread and stir gently to coat and combine. Allow the bread mixture to sit for 10 minutes. Prepare a 2 quart casserole dish by oiling it lightly. Spoon the bread mixture into the dish evenly and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until the pudding is set and lightly browned.

Dinner is served.

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40 thoughts on “Don’t Touch That Dial: It’s a HEALTHY Bread Pudding!

    • Hi Barb! This recipe and the ham, fontina and spinach one are both winners, but quite different. This one is lighter for one thing, and therefore better as an any day dish, not just a special occasion. I think you’ll like savory bread puddings once you try them. I know I’m hooked!

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    • Oh yes, savory bread puddings are wonderful, kind of like stratas, and you can mix and match your ingredients to suit your tastes, and use all whole eggs and whole milk to increase the richness (and increase the calories). Spinach and arugula are other good greens, roasted red peppers are nice, goat cheese, gruyere or fontina cheeses work, and ham, bacon and sausage are the most commonly added meats. Give it a try! 🙂

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  1. THIS!!!! is heaven sent. It is truly refreshing to see a savory bread pudding. For the last few days all I have been seeing popping up all over the place are sweet ones (I guess for Valentine’s Day). This work of art is truly appetizing and a welcomed change.

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    • Thank you Tia! We are trying to give of the heart this Valentine’s by being and cooking healthier. I did make pots de creme for tomorrow and we’re having a light seafood risotto with that….so somewhat of a splurge, but there will be more healthy and lighter dishes coming.

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  2. Like many others I have never eaten a savoury bread pudding – but it seems so logical! We have chard growing all year round in our veggie patch so I could make an adapted version of this – it sounds wonderful and the photo is stunning 🙂

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    • Hi Mandy, these were actually a trend for a while here in the states a few years back, and particularly during holidays and for brunches. With my love of bread pudding, I’ve been trying to think of ways to have them more often than a special occasion, but not pay the caloric and fat price! This one fits the bill and it’s mighty tasty, too.

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  3. That looks absolutely delicious, Betsy. If you used whole wheat baguette you would get even more fibre! I would definitely serve this as a dinner or even a brunch. Butternut squash is so darn creamy and sweet. Such a great combo.

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    • Hi Eva, and thank you so much. You could use a whole wheat baguette, but it might make it too sweet for a savory pudding…at least for my taste. This has no sugar in it, but between the nutmeg and the butternut, you do get a tiny bit of sweetness in this, balanced by the greens. It might depend on what type of whole wheat it was…but certainly it would be better for you! 😉

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  4. This is a winner, Betsy! Pudding and healthy together in one dish is tough to beat! I love all of these ingredients so I can already imagine what it would taste like. What a great inspiration! I’ll be trying this after all of the Valentine’s baking (and eating)!

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    • I hope you like it as much as we do, Smidge! It still seems a bit decadent even though it’s healthier than your average bread pudding. We’re on a healthy tack around here after all these holiday indulgences. Thanks for your nice compliments!

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  5. What a great recipe Betsy. I’d have never thought of that. I think that’s something my whole family would enjoy and they wouldn’t even realise there wasn’t any meat! What a great dish! Thanks for sharing such an original and creative recipe.

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    • You’re most welcome for the recipe Charlie Louie, and I think your whole family would like it, indeed. It really doesn’t taste meatless or much lighter to us, and I’m going to experiment with more different ingredients as time goes on.

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  6. Wow, that wasn’t what I was expecting when I read bread pudding! I’ve never seen savoury bread puddings before – only sweet ones. It looks delightful, and I love the ingredients too… especially the idea of the kale – looks like a delicious meal!

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    • I’m surprised at how many folks have commented here that they’ve never heard of a savory bread pudding, and so you are surely not alone in that Charles! They are sooooo good and I’ve seen recipes for dishes called “strata” which are very similar. My mom used to always make a baked sandwich as a company dish that was bread layered with ham and cheese, topped with more bread and covered in a custard that had dried mustard powder in it, and it was terrific and in the same general family of dishes. Thanks for reminding me of that…I must query her about that recipe!

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  7. Oh my…I’ve been catching up on my blog readings and wish I had read this earlier as I’d have made it this past weekend! It’s definitely on plan to make soon! I love the flavors and that its healthy!!

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