Sunday, May 8, 2011

Asparagus-Ramp Bread Pudding with Goat Cheese and Rosemary

After making last week's Asparagus-Shiitake Bread Pudding, I've been thinking of ways to further adapt the recipe to make it faster to assemble. Here I've cut the assembly time almost in half, to about 30 minuets (it needs another 40 minutes in the oven) and made some changes to the ingredients for a fairly different flavor profile as well. To save yourself some prep time, buy the bread 1-2 days ahead and let it dry out a little.

With ramp season coming to an end, you could take this technique and use it with the ingredients in the other recipe.

1 1-lb loaf white bread (French or Italian work well), preferably a bit stale
3 cups milk
About 10 ramps (1 bunch)
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 lbs asparagus, tough ends snapped off, in 1/2-inch rounds
Salt and pepper
2-3 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
6 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
4 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter or oil two 8x8-inch pans or one 9x13-inch pan.

Slice the bread about 1-inch thick, then tear into chunks. Place them in a large bowl. Heat the milk to steaming, then pour over the bread and let stand.

Slice the roots off the ramps and remove any loose outer layers. Thinly slice the white part and the stems, then finely chop the leaves, keeping them separate from the whites and stems.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the asparagus and the ramp whites and stems. Season with salt and plenty of pepper. Saute over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, until the asparagus turns bright green and is slightly tender. Remove from heat and set aside.

Turn the bread a bit in the bowl to make sure all of it soaks up milk. Then add in the asparagus and ramps, the chopped ramp leaves and rosemary, and the crumbled goat cheese.

Beat the eggs in a bowl with 1 tsp salt. Pour the eggs into the bowl with the bread and other ingredients and mix well so that everything is coated (trying not to turn the bread to mush while you do so).

Press the mixture into the prepared pan(s). Bake for about 40 minutes, until golden and a bit puffy.

Serve hot or warm. Serves 6-8.

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