Smoked Cheddar, Leek & Mushroom Bread Pudding

This would be a spectacular buffet table or holiday dish -- super rich and flavorful.  You can switch out the cheese and veggies.  Ideas might be Gruyere or Feta cheese; artichokes or red bell pepper.  It's completely adaptable.

2 tablespoons Wild Mushroom & Sage or Butter Olive Oil

3-4 leeks (white and light green parts only), cut into half-moons.

Kosher salt and pepper

3 large eggs

2 cups half-and-half

1/2 lb. country bread (day old), cut in 1 inch pieces (about 5 cups)

3 ounces smoked cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1/3 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a square or other 2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray. 

 

Pour the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the leeks and cook 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook until mushrooms are tender, about 3-4 minutes.  Pour into a large bowl and let cool a bit.

Add the bread and cheese to the leek/mushroom mixture and give a gently toss.  Whisk the eggs; add the half-and-half, rosemary, pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Add to the bread mixture.  Gently combine and pour into the casserole dish.

Cover with foil or a lid and bake until the edges are set and the middle is still wobbly, 20-30 minutes.  Uncover and bake until browned on the edges, about 20-25 minutes more.  Let cool a few minutes and serve.