Growing up, bread pudding was always sweet and laced with raisins and a good dose of cinnamon. Nothing wrong with that! But bread puddings can also be savory and are a good one-dish meal when chock full of vegetables. This version is rich, creamy and savory with a bit of crunch from the kale and the crusts that I didn’t trim. Why discard the tastiest part of the bread? It makes a great brunch, lunch or light supper dish when paired with a salad.
Now, you may be wondering how a “pudding” dish can be vegan. Thanks to the wonderful plant based dairy and egg replacements now available at supermarkets and specialty stores, most traditional recipes can be made vegan.
For the bread and veggies, this version uses the best of the Wednesday market, including: a porridge loaf from Jyan Isaac Bread, that has a dense, soft sourdough crumb but firm crust. Mushrooms from Fungi Valley LA. Thyme and parsley from Country Fresh Herbs. And, of course kale and fresh leeks and garlic.
While this is a one-dish meal when served, there is a bit of prep work to do. I find it easier to get this done a day ahead. Otherwise be sure to set aside about an hour ahead of cook time for this. It’s all explained in the recipe directions.
Please note that if you don’t want to “fuss” with prepping the leaks you can substitute chopped onions. The taste and texture will be a tad bit different but still just as delicious.
Savory Mushroom, Leek and Kale Bread Pudding
5-6 cups “stale” bread cubes, preferably from a dense and crusty sourdough
2 cups diced leeks, white and pale green part only (about 3 large leeks)
6 oz. mushrooms, sliced or cut in chunks, depending on size of mushroom
1 large bunch dinosaur kale, chopped
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T plus 2 T plant based butter, divided
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh chopped thyme
1 T fresh chopped parsley
1 tsp plus ½ tsp kosher salt, divided
¼ tsp plus ¼ tsp ground black pepper, divided
½ cup mushroom broth or vegetable broth
1/3 cup shredded plant based Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup shredded plant based mozzarella
9 T Just Egg or 3 egg equivalent
2 cups full fat oat milk or other plant milk
I prepped the first four ingredients a day ahead. To make “stale’ bread cubes put them on a sheet pan in a 225 degree oven for about 45 minutes, tossing occasionally. I left them unwrapped, overnight on the sheet pan to dry out further. Leeks are tricky, as dirt likes to hide between the layers. Be diligent cleaning them under running water. Make sure that they are dry before chopping and sautéing. Mushrooms simply need to be brushed clean and then sliced or cut in chunks. Use the stems – no need to discard. The kale will need to be washed and dried and then de-stemmed. Use only the leaves. Chop very small so that it sautés quickly and gets incorporated well.
Okay! On to making the pudding!
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the center.
Put the bread cubes in a large bowl and set aside. In a large, deep nonstick sauté pan, heat the 2 T EVOO and 2 T of butter over medium high heat. When frothy, add the leeks. Sautee the leeks about 5 minutes until softened. Don’t brown them. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook a few minutes to soften. Add a bit more oil if the pan seems dry. Add the kale and stir up so it all sautés in the fat. It will seem like a lot but will cook down. Add the mushroom broth, herbs, 1 tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Increase heat to medium. Cook a few more minutes until kale is softened but still bright green. Turn off heat.
Dump all of the veggies over the bread cubes. Stir up and incorporate evenly. I like to use my hands! Let it cool 5 – 10 minutes then add the cheese and stir up. Use 2 tsp of the additional butter to grease a deep casserole dish.
Put the bread/veggie/cheese mixture in the prepared casserole dish. Whisk the just egg in a large bowl and then add the milk and additional ½ tsp kosher salt and ¼ tsp black pepper and whisk up again. In a steady stream pour the Just Egg/oat milk mixture evenly over the bread. Let it sit and soak in 5 minutes. Dot the top with the remaining butter.
Bake for 40-45 minutes until hot all the way through. Let sit 5 minutes to set, top with a bit more Parmesan cheese and then serve. Refrigerate any leftovers.
About Deborah Brooks
Deborah is currently a documentary film producer. She is also a former certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition coach. The shutdown of business due to Covid-19 and the implication of an animal wet market connection caused her to rethink her high animal protein food lifestyle. She has spent the last year exploring the world of plant based eating for her own health as well as the health of the planet and all of its sentient beings. Her recipes can be found on Instagram. She would love you to follow along on her journey.
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