This bread pudding. So amazing. Imagine your tried and true recipe for bread stuffing taken to the next level. Or two. And with this dish, I am able to offer it to my gluten-free daughter & granddaughter, my vegetarian son & daughter-in-law and everyone else at the table. The finished dish is so full of flavor and texture …you’d never guess that it is vegetarian and gluten-free. Just keep in mind that you can easily replace a few key ingredients if those issues are of no concern to you and your guests.
Full credit for this recipe must go to Ina Garten. It is featured in her cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof. Ina directs you to use pancetta in the mix, which would certainly be delicious. So would the addition of sausage. In her version, she uses chicken stock. I’ve replaced that with vegetable broth. So many possibilities. All of them good.
The bread cubes are toasted in the oven for a few minutes. I use a good-quality gluten-free white bread that is stocked in my grocer’s freezer …Canyon Bakehouse GF Mountain White Bread. The top crust is a bit chewy (which I normally like) but for this recipe, I remove that before cubing the bread. After a brief stint in the oven, the bread cubes should have crisped up with just a slight golden tone on the edges.
While that’s happening, let’s get the veggies prepped. The leeks tend to be loaded with sandy soot, so I always give them a good soak after slicing …along with several rinses.
While the leeks are sautéing, slice those mushrooms and chop that tarragon. They’ll be added to the pan along with the sherry and seasonings. Speaking of sherry, everyone may not have that in their pantry. Not to worry …you could always substitute with dry white wine. Or if you prefer to keep this non-alcoholic, some unfiltered apple cider would do the trick. Here’s a good reference for you featuring additional substitutions.
When the cooked leeks and mushrooms are removed from the heat, the chopped fresh parsley is added. At this time, the cheesy creamy sauce is prepared.
The toasted bread crumbs are added to the mix along with the mushroom combo. Let it all hang out in the bowl for a while so that the bread has a chance to absorb the liquid. It then can be transferred to your baking dish where it will be topped off with a layer of shredded cheese.
After hanging out in the oven for about 45 minutes, you are presented with this amazingly flavorful upgraded “bread stuffing.” If you want to enjoy this with your turkey feast, I realize that oven real-estate can be limited. Bake this up the day before or morning of your big dinner. Then, as the turkey is resting, cover in foil and pop this in a 325°F oven to reheat.
gluten-free (or not) mushroom & leek bread pudding
Loosely adapted from Ina Garten in Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust
Try this for your gluten-free and vegetarian friends. Rich, flavorful and full of texture.
- 6 cups 1/2-inch-diced gluten-free bread cubes, top crust removed * (about 12 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 cups sliced leeks, white and light green parts only (3-4 leeks / about 16 ounces)
- 1 1/2 pounds cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed & cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves
- 1/4 cup medium or dry sherry (see recipe notes)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 4 extra-large eggs
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup vegetable broth **
- 1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese, divided (6 ounces)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the bread cubes on a sheet pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a large (12-inch) sauté pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until the leeks are tender. Stir in the mushrooms, tarragon, sherry, salt, and pepper and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until most of the liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, stir in the parsley.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, vegetable broth, and 1 cup of the shredded Gruyère. Add the bread cubes and mushroom mixture, stirring well to combine. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow the bread to absorb the liquid.
Stir well and pour into a 2½ to 3-quart gratin dish (13 x 9 x 2 inches). Sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup of shredded Gruyère and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the top is browned and the custard is set. Serve hot.
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