|Butternut Squash and Provolone Bread Pudding|
My own family lives on the other side of the country, so, we have always created our own Thanksgiving traditions. Over the years I have given up spending days preparing a lavish meal of turkey and fixings to create a more simplified, relaxed and enjoyable meal. I know it's not the same, but this cook thoroughly enjoys this family tradition!!! Now don't get me wrong, I love to cook a juicy aromatic turkey and all the fixings, but, it is the same amount of work for just a few people as it is for a crowd.
But what if you have fewer guests and you want to go hiking instead of spending all day in the kitchen? This savoury bread pudding fits the bill perfectly for a more light hearted meal. It could replace your traditional stuffing or be the perfect dish for your vegetarian guests whether you have a lavish meal over the holidays or not. I served it as a side this time around. Shallots, provolone cheese, and a rosemary foccacia caramelize in the oven and get a boost from a powerhouse green such as kale.
To all my Canadian friends I hope you survive Thanksgiving with your belt buckles intact and retain the warm glow that comes from being thankful for all that we have...family, friends and a table groaning with awe inspiring dishes. Here in the Okanagan Valley October means the Canada Geese take over the beaches, the wine harvest and wine festival are in full swing, and apples and pumpkins overtake the farmers market. Be thank for for all the blessings in our lives and get more squash into your kitchen.
**Butternut Squash and Provolone Bread Pudding**
1 pound peeled seeded butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt plus additional for sprinkling
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups half and half
3 tablespoons dry white wine
3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 day-old baguette (do not remove crust), torn into 1-inch pieces (about 5 cups) (I used rosemary foccacia)
1/2 cup chopped shallots (about 2 large)
1 bunch Tuscan kale, ribs removed, kale coarsely chopped
4 ounces Provolone, coarsely grated
Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss squash with 1 tablespoon oil on rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt; bake until squash is tender, turning with spatula occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes.
Whisk eggs in large bowl. Add half and half, wine, mustard, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt; whisk to blend. Add baguette pieces; fold gently into egg mixture. Let soak 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, heat 1 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 8x9x2-inch baking dish. Add roasted squash to bread mixture. 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. Sprinkle with half of cheese. Repeat with remaining bread, kale, 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.
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