there is a season, turn, turn, turn!

asparagus bread pudding
(it ain't the prettiest, but it's pretty tasty!)

sure the song might be about peace, but when i hear the word "season" i always think of hours at the ocean in the long days of summer (did you actually wonder if think about food first?!) but then i do think about all the great seasonality of food.

most of us follow seasonality on a most basic level. a hearty stew or beanful chili gets made in the cold days of winter. a hamburger (boca, of course! but we'll see what happens this summer huh?) on the grill. cold margaritas at a summer sunset. yeah yeah, okay that can be enjoyed any time of the year :)

but i also really try to follow seasonality in the small choices i make about vegetables and fruits. of course, living in new york means i don't really follow seasonality to a T, but don't confuse being seasonal with being a locavore - they are related but not the same (i still eat oranges from florida and "hawaiian gold" pineapples).

i'm not pedantic or preachy but some things i'm strict on. i pretty much only buy apples in the fall, oranges in the winter, artichokes in the spring, berries and pit fruits in the summer. that's why you won't see any strawberry tarts from me yet. with other things i'm flexible. sure, spinach tastes best after harvesting in the cold months, but i eat it all year long. melons, bananas, corn, and green beans are almost year round too. thank goodness cheese has no season huh? :)

bread alone is one of my favorite places for bread that i don't bake myself. the other is tom cat and that isn't just because we have four cats :)

asparagus is one of those only in the spring purchases. because it's cheesy and bready, this recipe is great for thinking about spring produce even when it's still cold outside, like the most unfortunate days we're not enjoying in the city.

did i tell you i can't wait for strawberries to arrive? sigh ...

asparagus and mushroom bread pudding: serves 6
adapted from madison's local flavors book (2002, p. 37) - i love deborah madison!

1 head garlic
3 cups milk
1 loaf white bread (1 lb) cut into thick slices (stale bread from the day before)
1-2 lb asparagus, preferably thick and bottoms peeled
3 tb butter
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 lb mushrooms, coarsely chopped
4 large eggs
1/3 cup parsley
3 tb chopped tarragon or marjoram
2 cups grated gruyère cheese
salt + pepper

1. preheat oven to 350F. lightly butter a 8 x 12 gratin dish. coarsely chop garlic, add to milk, and bring to boil. turn if off and set aside to steep.

2. break bread into chunks, put in large dish, and strain milk over it. let it sit while you prepare the vegetables. occasionally turn bread so it soaks up as much milk as possible.

3. slice asparagus on diagonal about 1/3 inch thick and soak in cold water for couple minutes. fill skillet with water, bring to boil, add salt and asparagus. simmer until bright green and partially tender, about 3 minutes. drain, rinse with cold water.

4. melt half butter in skillet. add shallot, cook for 1 minute, then add mushrooms. cook over high heat until tender after several minutes. season with salt and pepper.

5. break eggs into large bowl and beat until smooth. add herbs, salt and lots of pepper. add bread and any milk left behind, along with asparagus and mushroom mix (plus the skillet juices) and 2/3 of the cheese. toss well.

6. pour mixture into gratin dish, even it out, dot with remaining butter and sprinkle with remaining cheese. bake until golden, about 45 minutes. let cool for few minutes and serve with crunchy side salad. the delicious gruyère smell makes this a great leftover to re-heat for lunch in your cubicle :)


  1. This looks so fantastic and I'm not just saying this to be nice. It's 6:30am and I swear this would be delicious right now for breakfast. Love asparagus and anything that comes with Spring!

  2. thanks for visiting aran! i love all the spring produce because i can't wait for warm weather! then again, you don't have that problem down in florida ;)

  3. I love savory bread pudding! Such a great twist on the classic dessert versions!

    Welcome to The Foodie Blogroll! :)

  4. I've never had a savory bread pudding, but this one is calling out to me!!

  5. Mimi I'm sold! Looks scrumptious to me as I too am rather in a springy mood. The gruyere is a bonus :D

  6. This looks like a nice change of pace from my usual way of serving asparagus (roasted with garlic and olive oil). Asparagus is definitely one of my favorite veggies, so a new way to serve it is definitely welcome!

  7. I've not yet tried a savory bread pudding. It's on the "list." This looks like a goody!

  8. i think my all-time favorite for serving asparagus (besides plain old steaming with lemon) is the tart with gruyere. that was really quite delish, easy, and quick!