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.
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.