When I invite friends over for dinner, I always swear to myself I’ll have dinner all ready and the kitchen cleaned up when they arrive, but more often than not, we drink our first glass of wine together while I’m still working at the stove and shoving dishes in the sink. Unless, that is, I remember to pull out this recipe. Then I’ve got dinner in the oven and I’ve had time to clean up before they even walk in the door.
This recipe is inspired by a savory bread pudding in my book, but I wanted to share a different version. The original recipe uses broccoli raab and spicy andouille sausage, but over the years I've created this dish with a number of different combinations. (Bread, cheese, meat, greens — really nothing could go wrong here.) This is my favorite recent redo — a more delicate mix of ricotta, Swiss chard, and sweet sausage. Feel free to create your own versions as well, using any combination of bread, cheese, meat, and greens.
A savory bread pudding (sometimes also called a strata) hits all the checkmarks for a hearty one-dish meal: starch, meat, and vegetables all in one. The versatility of this recipe is great; you can feature pretty much any sausage or greens you want. The surprise for me here was the rye bread — I love eating it, but never thought to use it in a bread pudding. Ingenious!
- Christine, November 2015
Swiss Chard and Sausage Bread Pudding
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9x13-inch or equivalent casserole dish with butter. Scatter the bread over the base of the dish. Whisk together the milk and eggs in a large bowl, and pour the milk mixture over the bread to soak while you cook the vegetables.
Melt the tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the Swiss chard stems and continue to cook and stir until the stems are tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the Swiss chard leaves and water to the skillet. Bring to a boil, cover, and lower the heat. Cook, lifting the lid to stir the greens once or twice, until the greens are wilted but still bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. Taste and season with salt if needed.
Fold the sausage, ricotta, and half the Parmesan into the soaked bread. Transfer the greens to the dish as well, leaving any liquid in the skillet. Nestle the greens into the bread mixture. Top with the remaining Parmesan and bake, uncovered, until the center doesn't weep when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour.
- A note on salt and pepper: The flavor of this pudding varies greatly depending on the flavor of the bread, sausage, and ricotta. I find it doesn't usually need any additional salt besides what's in the components, but if one of your components is particularly bland, you might want to add a bit. Serve with salt and pepper alongside, so each eater can do as they please.