The headline is a misnomer. I should have called it Butternut Squash, Mushroom, Sausage and Kale Bread Pudding. But that was a mouthful - granted, it's a good mouthful, but too long for a title of this recipe. Anyway, it's that time of year when butternut squash is abundant -- a vegetable that just screams "fall." I love it in soups, simply baked with olive oil and salt, or gussied up in lasagna or casseroles like this one. I served this as a main course, with a salad alongside, but you could leave out the sausage and serve it as a side dish. Thanksgiving will be here before you know it and it would be perfect on the table alongside Tom turkey.
There are a number of steps, but it's easy to make ahead of time if you want. Keep the bread and the squash cubes in sizable chunks when you cut them - not too teensy so they don't disintegrate into unrecognizable pieces after baking.
After all the ingredients are sautéed, sliced, etc. place them in a bowl.
Add the eggs and cheeses and mix everything together with a spoon.
This is what you end up with - a large casserole that feeds lots of people - at least a dozen if it's a side dish or six if it's a main course.
Or bake it in a lot of smaller dishes if you want individual portions.
Either way, it's delicious, so get busy. And dig in.
Butternut Squash Bread Pudding
printable recipe here
In the photos, I used 1 cup kale, but I'd use more next time I make it. You can add or subtract any of the vegetables, and even leave out the sausage to make it completely vegetarian.
3 cups butternut squash, cut into cubes
2 T. olive oil
ground sage or seasoned sage salt* or herbs de provence
4 cups sturdy Italian or French bread (preferably a day old)
2 T. butter
2 T. olive oil
3/4 cup minced shallots
3 garlic cloves
1/2 pound Italian sausage
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 1/2 cup kale, chopped
1 cup half and half
2 cups milk
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup mozzarella or fontina cheese, shredded
*I make seasoned salt at the end of the summer, by harvesting a lot of herbs and blending them with kosher salt. Use any combination you have - rosemary, thyme, sage, lemon balm, etc. I went heavy on the sage last year and it makes a great seasoning for the Thanksgiving turkey as well as recipes like this.
Spread the mixture on a cookie sheet and let it air dry for a day or two. When the herbs are completely dried, place the mixture into the blender or food processor and blend finely before placing into jars.
For the bread pudding:
Cut the squash into cubes - not wimpy ones, but about 1 inch cubes. Oil a cookie sheet and toss the squash cubes in the oil. Season with salt, pepper and the dried sage or sage salt or herbs de provence. Go easy on the salt if using the sage salt. Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 - 45 minutes.
Cut the bread into large cubes and put it in the oven for about five minutes while the squash is cooking. Remove to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, saute the minced shallot in the olive oil and butter until wilted. Add the minced garlic and saute briefly until soft, then add the mushrooms and cook them through. When the mushrooms are browned and nearly done cooking, add the chopped kale and saute for a few minutes. If necessary, add a little more oil. Season all with salt and pepper, then remove from the pan and place all the cooked vegetables in the bowl with the bread.
Use the same pan to cook the sausage. Remove the casing from the sausage and break up the meat in the pan, cooking it through. Add a little more olive oil if there's not enough in the pan to keep the meat from sticking. Add the cooked sausage to the bowl with the vegetables, along with the squash when it is cooked through.
Whisk the eggs, then add the half and half and milk and stir in the cheeses. Pour the mixture into the bowl with the bread, the sausage and the vegetables and mix it all together with a wooden spoon. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes for the bread to absorb some of the liquid. You can even make everything to this stage and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. Pour it into a greased casserole dish - mine was oval but it measures roughly 9 x 13 inches. Bake it at 375 for about 35 to 40 minutes. I also turned on the broiler near the end to achieve a little more browning. This also reheats very well as leftovers.