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Savory Spinach Bread Pudding

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My friend Lynn asked the other day if I ever make savory bread pudding. I hadn't ever thought about it, but it sounded like a good idea. Usually when I have stale bread that I don't want to go to waste, I turn it into either bread crumbs or croutons and freeze them for later inspiration. 

Bread crumbs are easy: trim the crust off, throw the rest in the food processor and pulse away until you get the desired crumb. Bag it up and freeze for later use.

Croutons take a few more steps: trim the crust, cut into cubes and saute in a heavy, hot pan with melted butter, olive oil, Sweetlife Alder Smoked Olive Oil--I use a combination of all three, to taste--until the bread is getting a little crispy on the outside and golden. It will still be soft in the middle. Throw in some pressed garlic or Parsley-Chive-Garlic Salt. Be sure to watch it like a hawk and stir constantly, so it doesn't burn. When it looks nice, remove it from the heat, put it on a baking sheet and dry it out in a low oven for a couple of hours. I have an old oven with a pilot light that keeps the temperature around 150 degrees. For those of you with modern conveniences, preheat the oven to 150-175, then turn off the oven when you put the croutons in. Freeze what's left after you've nibbled on it while you are going through this exercise if you don't plan to use it within a couple of days.

Lynn was coming over to help me in the studio the other day, so I decided to try my hand at a savory pudding.

Croutons with butter, garlic salt and smoked olive oil

First I made croutons using what was in the bread drawer: Bob's honeyed oatmeal bread. 

Next came a seeded jalapeno pepper and a bag full of fresh baby spinach. I didn't measure it, but it filled up my food processor: about 4 cups. I processed them together and removed them from the processor.

Then grated bits of cheese from the cheese drawer that begged to be used up: some parmesan and ricotta salada: after I dropped them into the food processor and pulsed them, they measured a heaping cup. To that I added 2 cups of buttermilk and 4 eggs and mixed into a slurry.

Finally, I dumped the croutons into a gorgeous Cook on Clay flameware dish and poured the mixture on top. For good measure and to doll it up a bit, I sliced the last of the quince and arranged the slices on top. It baked for a half hour at 350 and looked perfect, but was a little squishy when we ate it for lunch. I reheated it as a side dish for dinner last night, and a couple of minutes in the microwave made the texture just right. 

Fresh Spinachingredients for savory bread pudding

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