Thanksgiving, sans turkey: A vegetarian main dish that shines
|November 23, 2010||Posted by Lindsay under Entertaining, Recipes, Seasonal stuff, Vegetarian, What's for Dinner|
My infatuation with all things Molly Wizenberg has been well-documented, from her delightful monthly column in Bon Appetit to her first book, “A Homemade Life,” a “Cooking for Mr. Latte”-style memoir about her childhood, her adventures in Paris and meeting her husband, Brandon — unbelievably — through her blog. (I know, right? And 10 years ago the internet was for freaks and pedophiles!)
Molly was also a longtime creative vegetarian, though her recent recipe for meatballs indicates that’s a thing of the past. When I signed up to make a hearty dinner for a pair of vegetarian mommies who just had a beautiful baby girl (welcome, Ione June!) I immediately recalled an incredible-looking bread pudding from last Thanksgiving’s Bon Appetit. It had all the right moves: roasted butternut squash, aged cheddar, big hunks of country bread soaked in an egg, cream and wine mixture and two big bunches of dragon kale, all baked until toasty in a big casserole dish.
I won’t lie: this is not a quick dish. Nothing about it is difficult, but you’re going to spend a good hour ribbing the kale, ripping up the bread, chopping shallots and shredding a big hunk of cheese (nibbles permitted). So it’s easy, but make it on a Saturday while the laundry is going and a podcast of This American Life can keep you distracted. And be sure to eat lunch first, or half the bread, cheese and kale will go into your mouth. Fair warning.
And re: the directions, nobody in her right mind is going do all this prep beforehand, so keep chopping and ripping while you already have something in the oven. For the original directions, click the link.
This is even better the next day. Heat for about 30 minutes at 350°F and serve with a green salad with lemon vinaigrette.
Butternut Squash and Cheddar Bread Pudding
Recipe adapted slightly from Molly Winzenberg, Bon Appetit, November 2009.
- 2 pounds peeled seeded butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt plus additional for sprinkling
- 7 large eggs
- 2 1/4 cups half and half
- 6 tablespoons dry white wine
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 day-old baguette or country bread (do not remove crust), torn into 1-inch pieces (about 10 cups)
- 1 cup chopped shallots (3-4 large)
- 2 bunches Tuscan kale (about 1 pound), ribs removed, kale coarsely chopped
- 8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
(This is how I did it, for max efficiency.)
Cut up your squash and toss it with 1 tbsp oil on a rimmed baking sheet covered with aluminum foil for easy clean-up. Sprinkle with salt and bake until tender, about 20-25 minutes at 400°F. Reduce oven temp to 350°F.
Meanwhile, rip the bread into pieces. Whisk eggs in large bowl. Add half and half, wine, mustard, and 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt; whisk to blend. Add bread pieces; fold gently into egg mixture. Let soak 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Rib the kale. Take a knife and zip it down each side, or lay it flat and take out the center. (This lady uses her hands.) Peel shallots and throw them in a food processor for speed.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté until soft, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add kale; cover and cook 2 minutes. Uncover and stir until kale is wilted but still bright green, about 5 minutes (kale will be a bit crunchy).
Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Generously butter or oil a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Using slotted spoon, transfer half of bread from egg mixture to prepared baking dish, arranging to cover most of dish. Spoon half of kale over bread. Spoon half of squash over bread and kale; sprinkle with half of cheese. Repeat with remaining bread, kale, squash, and cheese. Pour remaining egg mixture over bread pudding.
Cover bread pudding with foil. Bake 20 minutes. Remove foil; bake uncovered until custard is set and bread feels springy to touch, about 20 minutes longer.
Preheat broiler; broil pudding until cheese browns slightly, about 2 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and serve.