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Spring-Onion Bread Pudding
Spring-Onion Bread Pudding

We'd all but pushed aside thoughts of Thanksgiving stuffing when The Grocery's chef-owner Kevin Johnson reminded us that the traditional corn bread version is a versatile vehicle for showcasing seasonal ingredients--and far too good to eat just once a year. At his Charleston, South Carolina, restaurant, Johnson roasts peak-season spring onions to capture their inherent sweetness, then combines them with corn bread, parsley and a nutty Swiss-style cheese in this savory bread pudding. Forget potatoes: This Southern-inspired recipe will be our starchy side dish of choice until spring onions disappear.

Makes one 8-by-8-inch casserole (6 to 8 servings)

5 spring onions, trimmed and quartered

6 thyme sprigs, leaves picked and finely chopped

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

5 cups cubed corn bread

6 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup coarsely grated Swiss-style cheese

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 cup vegetable broth, preferably homemade

1/2 to 1 cup 2% milk

1. Preheat the oven to 450˚ and grease an 8-by-8-inch casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, toss the onions with the thyme and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the onions to a large baking sheet and roast, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until very soft and deeply roasted. Transfer the onions to a cutting board and let cool for 10 minutes, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips.

3. Reduce the oven temperature to 350˚. In a large mixing bowl, gently crumble the corn bread, leaving some pieces slightly larger than others. Combine the corn bread with the onions, eggs, cheese, parsley and vegetable broth. Moisten the mixture with 1/2 cup of the milk, adding up to 1/2 cup of the remaining milk as needed to make the mixture slightly soupy. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes or until almost set. Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes longer or until the top of the bread pudding is golden brown. Let cool slightly before slicing and serving.

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