Welcome to “What will I do with all those squashes?” season! Whether you cultivate a garden at home, subscribe to a CSA, or buy your produce at a farmers’ market, I bet you have a mountain of squash sitting at home right now, and you’re wondering what to do with it all.
I recently was trying to devise a new way to use zucchini, specifically, so I turned to my favorite resource for all things vegetable: Yotam Ottolenghi. One of his July Guardian columns was devoted to zucchini (or courgette), and the “frittata” recipe caught my eye. I put “frittata” in quotes because the use of bread soaked in milk and cream rather reminds me of bread pudding, and I actually love the idea of a savory bread pudding better than a sweet one.
The recipe is quick to assemble, and you can even bake it the day before. Just like classic bread pudding, the texture gets better as it sits overnight. Simply reheat it in a moderate oven 20 minutes before serving, and you’re set. It’s a great weeknight meal and an excellent make-ahead brunch dish.
Zucchini and Parmesan Savory Bread Pudding
Makes 6 servings.
7 oz [200 g] ciabatta bread, crust removed and roughly torn into pieces (weigh the bread after removing the crust – makes about 4 cups loosely packed [1 L])
1 cup [250 ml] whole milk
¾ cup [175 ml] heavy cream
¼ cup [60 ml] diced pancetta (omit this ingredient to make the dish vegetarian)
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¾ tsp [3.75 ml] ground cumin
½ cup [125 ml] parmesan cheese, finely grated
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium zucchini, washed and coarsely grated
Small handful basil leaves, torn (about ¼ cup loosely packed [60 ml])
2 tbsp [30 ml] olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350°F [175°C]. In a large bowl, mix the ciabatta bread, milk, and cream. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes to soak.
While the bread is resting, heat a small pan over medium-high heat. Cook the pancetta until golden and crisp, then drain and let cool on paper towels.
Once the bread has absorbed most of the liquid, in a large bowl, whisk the eggs, garlic, cumin, half the parmesan cheese (1/4 cup [60 ml]), ¾ tsp [3.75 ml] sea salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Add the cooked pancetta and stir. Pour the mixture into the bowl containing the soaked bread, then stir in the grated zucchini and torn basil leaves.
Heat a 8 x 10 inches [20 x 25 cm] baking dish for 5 minutes in the oven. Remove, brush all over with the olive oil, then pour in the zucchini mixture. Level out the top, bake for 20 minutes, then sprinkle the rest of the parmesan cheese over. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes longer, until the pudding is golden-brown and cooked through (a knife inserted into the center should come out clean). Set aside for 5 minutes, then serve. Or let cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Reheat, covered with aluminum foil, in a 300°F [150°C] oven for 20 minutes before serving.
Recipe Credit: Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi, The Guardian