Savory Bread Pudding with Morels and Beet Greens – Recipe

Savory Morel Bread Pudding
Savory Bread Pudding with Morel Mushrooms and Beet Greens

I wish you could smell this.

It is one of those dishes where you take a deep whiff of wild mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, and butter and you get a little bit dizzy for a second.

Regular, sweet bread puddings¬†are rather hearty for dessert, so it isn’t a big stretch to reflect them onto the savory side of the mirror. Tom Douglas has been doing both corn and mushroom bread puddings for years at Seattle’s Etta’s and Palace Kitchen.

Really there isn’t much difference between a savory bread pudding and stuffing, except that bread pudding is bound with eggs. The tricky bit is to add the richness of the custard without crushing the lightness of bread. A few simple moves help: tear the bread instead of cutting it in too uniform cubes to create more airspace. Use a relatively hearty bread like pain au levain to retain structure. And, most important of all, toss the bread only very gently with the egg mixture.

If you can’t get morels right now (and yes, I wrote this post a while ago), chanterelles or cultivated oyster mushrooms would work well as long as you cook them long enough to develop some flavor. Or you know, a few ounces of black truffle if you happen to have them lying around in the back of your crisper drawer.

I chose the beet greens simply because I was serving a beet salad at the same meal, so they were available, but you could use any other leafy green that suits you. Just be sure to get the water out so they don’t sog up your bread.

Savory Bread Pudding with Morels and Beet Greens
Vegetarian
Serves 4 as a big side dish or light main course

  • Greens from 1 bunch beets (or other greens), stripped of ribs, cut in ribbons, rinsed well
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup finely diced white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 pound morel mushrooms
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • Several gratings of whole nutmeg (or a big pinch of ground)
  • Pinch smoked paprika
  • 7 ounces (about 3 big, thick slices) pain au levain or similar artisan bread
  • Flaky sea salt for finishing
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 and butter a deep 8″ round casserole (or similar). Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the beet greens until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain, cool, and squeeze out as much water as possible.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Saute the onions and garlic with a big pinch of salt until lightly browned, about 5 minutes and reserve.
  3. Soak the morels in a large bowl of water (don’t do this if substituting other mushrooms, just wipe them clean!) Drain and repeat if necessary because they still seem to be giving off dirt, not just bits of mushrooom. Drain well but it is ok that they will still be a bit wet. Cut in half (or smaller if the mushrooms are very large). Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in the same saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and a big pinch of salt. You’ll see all the water come out, then eventually evaporate, and then finally the mushrooms will start browning. Stop when they have browned a fair amount, about 10 minutes total. Reserve. (Wipe that pan with a bit of bread and eat it! You’ve been working hard and need a snack.)
  4. Whisk together the eggs, milk, rosemary, nutmeg, smoked paprika and 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt. Tear the bread into bite sized pieces and put that in the casserole. Add the beet greens, sauteed onions, and sauteed mushrooms and toss. Pour the egg mixture over the bread and toss very gently, don’t squeeze and squish.
  5. Let stand about 20 minutes so the bread can absorb the custard, then bake until it reaches an internal temperature of about 180 degrees F, checked in several places. This should take 45 – 55 minutes. It will still seem a bit soft, but it shouldn’t be liquid anywhere. Do not overcook, as the eggs will then turn rubbery and start leaching water and you’ll be very sad.
  6. Remove from the oven, let cool for at least 15 minutes, garnish with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, fresh ground black pepper and minced chives and serve it forth.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Monday, December 5th, 2011 in Recipes, Side Dishes.

20 Responses to “Savory Bread Pudding with Morels and Beet Greens – Recipe”

  1. John
    December 5, 2011 at 11:15 am #

    This is going on the must-cook list for later in the week. I’ll be using chard rather than beets (same family anyhow!), since it’s growing right outside int he garden. I think that I might actually KEEP the stems, cooked just enough to leave a tiny bit of ‘crunch’. I’ll also use the microwave for cooking the greens — I end up throwing away less of the flavor that way, although I suppose that with beet greens there’s plenty to spare. As for morels…fat chance here in New England in December! But maybe I’ll uses one of your suggested substitutes, or one of those single-black-truffles-in-a-can that I’ve been waiting to use. We’ll see…

    • December 5, 2011 at 11:30 am #

      Sounds good! I agree, with chard the stems are quite nice.

  2. December 5, 2011 at 7:25 pm #

    I wish I could smell it too. I can only imagine. I love to use beet greens in dishes, as I hate to waste food.The morels would be heaven.

  3. Vidhya
    December 5, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

    Hi Michael, am a newbie to your website and a vegetarian as well! Your website looks great and am looking forward to try out your recipes! Regarding this post on the savory bread pudding- It looks delicious and I can’t wait to give it a try- however, we live in Singapore where it’s quite difficult to find morel or the other gourmet mushrooms u ve mentioned… Any other easier substitutes? Can i use portobello mushrooms instead? Let me know! Thank you :)

    • December 6, 2011 at 7:37 am #

      Hi Vidhya – yes indeed, you can do this with portobello or even regular cultivated mushrooms, you’ll just want to be sure and brown them really well first to extract the liquid and develop flavor. Enjoy!

  4. Vidhya
    December 6, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    Great! Thank you and will let u know how it goes :)

  5. December 6, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

    looks yummy and delicious! thanks for the great recipe!

  6. December 8, 2011 at 3:44 pm #

    not usually a fan of bread puddings, but I think your recipe may have made it on my week of meals. I love using the greens from the beets. Perfect.

  7. John
    December 10, 2011 at 11:15 am #

    We made this last night. We made a 1.5x batch, using crimini and oyster mushrooms. The mix of the thicker “pudding” portion near the bottom, the crisp-and-toasty bits at the top, and the crunchy bits around the edges was great. And the spicing was just right — the nutmeg was present but not overpowering; same for the rosemary. I might have increased the smoked paprika just a little. I skipped the chives (it took a lot longer than planned, and we were HUNGRY, and going outside at 9PM to look for chives just didn’t seem worth it), We used “bright lights” chard (about 8 leaves) instead of beet greens.

    1. We should have used more chard. We cut out the stems, cut the rest into 1″-wide ribbons, and cut the stems into tiny slices (1/4″ or less). We cooked the stems in the microwave for 2 min, and the leaves for 1 min. If we’d had twice as much chard, the 2 min would have worked; as it was, the stems lost all crunch. Doing it again, I’d cut the stems into 3/4″ long pieces, if only for color.

    2. With the scaled-up recipe, we should have cooked it in two souffle dishes; we used one larger dish, and it took about 1:25 to get heated through. (Indeed, I turned down the oven temp part way along to prevent burning the bread on the surface.)

    3. It makes a lot of sense to do the combining of bread and onions and greens in a LARGE bowl, and pour the milk/egg mix in there too for the “soaking up”, and then dump everything into the buttered dish. We started to make it as instructed, but it was clearly going to end up all over the kitchen floor if we persisted.

    4, We used whole-wheat sourdough. I meant to get regular sourdough, but I was in a hurry. If I had it to do over again, I’d use regular.

    The general assessment: this one’s a keeper! It might even go into the short rotation for the next week or two, until the chard finally dies off when we get a hard frost.

    • December 11, 2011 at 9:41 am #

      Your version sounds great, and I agree with you – more greens and more paprika are good ideas.

  8. December 15, 2011 at 4:45 am #

    Wow! I will definitely try this! Thank you for this great recipe :)

  9. December 16, 2011 at 4:34 pm #

    Yummmm!! And I do believe I can smell this due to your fabulous writing. Now I can’t wait to make this recipe so I can actually taste it too!

    Cheers,

    Jill

  10. Sandy
    October 28, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    Wow! I can’t wait to try this! I hope our PacNW rains bring chanterelles someday soon. It’s still pretty bleak out there, although I think I still have some in the freezer from last year. I’m going to use plain unsweetened soy milk instead of dairy.

  11. Nicole
    November 14, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    Hi Michael, this looks amazing, but I’m not as much a fan of the custard texture. Do you think I could prepare this in more of a stuffing fashion by using stock instead of the milk and eggs? Thank you!

    • November 14, 2012 at 10:20 am #

      I haven’t tried it, but I don’t see any reason it shouldn’t be delicious! If you do, please let us know how it turns out.

  12. Nicole
    November 14, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    will do, and thank you!

  13. cathy
    November 14, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    Any other suggestions I can use instead of morels?
    They are quite hard to come by in Canada.

    • November 14, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

      This would be tasty with chanterelles or porcini (cepes) too!

      • Sandy
        November 15, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

        porcini — also known as King Boletus in case you have any mushrooming friends out hunting them! :-)

  14. cathy
    November 16, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    Awesome. Thank you. There is an Asian grocery store
    in the same mall I work and they have those for sure.
    can’t wait to make this. I have a really good Italian
    Recipe similar to this made with ricotta.

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