Savory Cheddar Bread Pudding

It’s been hot – in the 90’s and I don’t mean the lower 90’s – for at least a month.  I don’t appreciate the 90’s.  And I have been working 10-15 hour days to finish a project.  I haven’t been cooking.  I’ve been coming home, eating, and falling asleep in the recliner. Dinner has been:

A large bowl of Nutty Buddy ice cream
Corn on the cob
Chips and salsa
Fruit
A large bowl of Nutty Buddy ice cream with chocolate syrup
Crackers and fresh mozzarella

Now this hasn’t been so bad in the fat gram department: the ice cream is reduced fat, the chips and crackers are low fat, the corn was basted with light butter. I really don’t keep anything in the house that will derail the fat grams completely.  But nutritionally, I can’t say that I’ve been great – OK, the fruit is good nutrition.  I finally microwaved a haunch of buffalo so I had some real protein.

The abysmally hot weather has finally broken (Oh please don’t fix it.  I need the respite.) I decided it was safe to turn on the oven.

When I was cleaning the freezer, I noticed that I had accumulated a great deal of leftover French bread – the remains of the bread I used for the various stuffed French toast experiments I posted earlier. I didn’t want to throw the bread out, but leftover French bread is bulky and takes up a lot of valuable freezer real estate. Bread pudding came to mind; it’s a great way to use up leftover bread in general. But this bread pudding is different than most. It’s not a dessert; it’s either a side dish, or even a main dish, which would work well with a nice salad.  I ate it as a main dish a couple of times, and then took it for lunch where it  reheated nicely (I will shamelessly say I even scarfed it down cold one day.) Made with vegetable broth, this makes a vegetarian meal.

Savory Cheddar Bread Pudding

1 teaspoon olive oil
3 cups finely chopped fennel bulb (about 1 large bulb)
3 cups finely chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried marjoram, crushed
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, divided
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 ounces French bread or other firm white bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
4 ounces shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray a 9” X 13” baking dish with cooking spray

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chopped fennel, onion, and garlic cloves; cook until golden brown (about 20 minutes), stirring frequently. Add 1/4 cup broth; cook until liquid evaporates, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add remaining broth; bring to a boil. Remove from heat.

Combine bread and fennel mixture. Stir in cheese. Spoon mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Makes 8 servings at 3 grams of fat/serving.

savory bread pudding1

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ABOUT KAREN

I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

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