There are some foods that just seem to be made for each other. Two are mushrooms and onions. You can find them together in all sorts of favorites. The ones that immediately come to mind for me is when they’re sauteed and served with steak or put atop a grilled burger.
Two other foods that I like in combination are spinach and cheese. I’ve tried them in a number of strata casserole recipes, but my favorite use of them is in vegetable lasagna, which we recently had for dinner.
A recipe that came my way this week contained all four of the aforementioned foods in a tasty-looking bread pudding recipe. (Actually, the recipe calls for leeks, a cousin of the onion and also a member of the allium family.)
The dish is not something that I would make on a weekly basis, since it’s laden with calories. But for a special occasion such as Mother’s Day, it would quite a breakfast treat for the honoree.
Bread Pudding with Mushrooms, Spinach and Leeks
1 large (12-ounce) baguette
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 leeks, white and light green parts, washed and finely chopped
1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
4 large eggs
1 quart half-and-half
Ground black pepper
12 ounces shredded Gruyere cheese
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven. Slice baguette crosswise into ¾-inch-thick slices. Place on a baking sheet and toast until dry and just beginning to color around the edges, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Brush some butter on one side of each bread slice. Add leeks to skillet with remaining butter and cook until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms release their liquid, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in spinach and set aside.
Whisk eggs, half-and-half, ½ teaspoon salt and ground black pepper to taste together in a large bowl. Add bread slices and gently toss to coat. Arrange bread slices in overlapping rows in a shallow 3-quart baking dish. Pour remaining liquid over bread and let stand 10 minutes.
Spoon mushroom and spinach mixture in between bread slices. Sprinkle cheese over pudding. Bake until puffed, golden and set, 45 to 50 minutes. Let stand 20 minutes and serve warm.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6.