Polenta Bread Pudding with Asparagus, Mushrooms & Cheese


Polenta Bread Pudding with Asparagus, Mushrooms & Cheese

Recipe Level: Creative | Recipe Speed: Average | Season: Spring (because of the asparagus) | Type: Main Dish, or Starchy Side | Diet: Veg

Bread pudding isn't just for dessert! This savory version is a delicious vegetarian main course, but could also serve as an excellent side dish to a sausage link or a roasted chicken leg. Once you know how to make bread pudding, you can make it with almost anything. Change up the bread, and the veggies, add meat, whatever makes you happy! 

  • 1 loaf polenta bread, or any other kind of bread you'd like to use. The bread can be slightly stale.
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms
  • 6 spears asparagus
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 pint half-and-half
  • 6 eggs
  • salt
  • pepper
  • nutmeg
  • 6 ounces cheddar
  1. Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.
  2. Cut the polenta bread into half-inch cubes. Spread the cubes on a baking sheet, toss with a drizzle of olive oil, and toast, stirring every 10 minutes, until dry on the outside. If the bread is a bit stale to begin with, the toasting time will be shorter.
  3. While the bread is toasting, rinse, de-stem and slice the mushrooms, saving the stems for stock. 
  4. Rinse the asparagus spears and cut into rounds.
  5. Heat some oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Sauté the mushrooms until they've browned slightly. Add the asparagus and cook for another minute or two until it turns bright green. Remove from the heat. 
  6. If you haven't already, check the bread. When it's done, turn down the oven temperature to 350-degrees. 
  7. Mince the two cloves of garlic. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the garlic, half-and-half, and eggs. When they're well mixed, season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  8. Add the bread cubes, stir to combine, and let sit for at least 10 minutes, and up to 30 minutes. Grate the cheese, and stir half of it in with the bread. Reserve the other half.
  9. Transfer the bread cubes to a greased glass baking dish. Sprinkle on the asparagus and mushroom mixture. Top with the remaining cheese. 
  10. Bake the bread pudding until the custard has set, around 45 or 50 minutes, depending on your oven. 
  11. Let cool slightly, and serve in squares.