This Sunday, I have a party to go to. And I’m planning to make a bread pudding with lots of lovely stuff – white chocolate, bananas, cranberries – in it to take along. But then, that is only on Sunday… and people have to eat till then, right? I was not in a mood to go food shopping in the middle of the week. Looking in the refrigerator, I realised I had bits of different cheeses that I needed to use up. But how? And remember, I had bread pudding on my brain… voila, the end result is this Mediterranean summer bread pudding!
Why Mediterranean summer? One thing I wanted in the dish was baby spinach… always have it on hand. So we have assorted cheeses and spinach. What goes with that? Of course, olives and lemon! The combination reminds you of a lovely Mediterranean summer, doesn’t it? 🙂
This dish would shine with feta cheese as stated in the recipe, but I used an assortment of cheeses, the leftovers from earlier recipes… a bit of gouda, bit of mozzarella, and even a bit of brie. And of course some pecorino on the top. It tasted so yummy!
Once I arrived at the theme, the rest was easy. Add the standard spices that go with the cuisine… allspice, cumin, red chilli flakes, and oregano.
You can make this with white bread as well, but of course, whole wheat bread is always better*. Whichever bread, make sure that it gets ample time to soak up the juices, before you pop it into the oven.
Finally, I like to grease the baking pan with butter. If you prefer, you can use olive oil for this purpose.
- 6 large slices whole wheat bread
- 1 cup baby spinach, tightly packed
- 5 artichoke hearts, thinly sliced
- 12 black olives
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 2 cups milk
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp allspice powder
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp red chilli flakes
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp shredded pecorino cheese
- Unsalted butter to grease the pan
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degree fahrenheit and butter a 9 inch baking pan.
- Cut the crusts off the bread slices and cut them into ½ inch cubes.
- Cut the baby spinach finely.
- Slice the artichoke hearts thinly.
- Slice the black olives into thin circles.
- In a large pan, mix together the bread cubes, spinach, artichoke hearts and olives. Make sure that the vegetables are not wet so that the bread doesn’t get soggy.
- Transfer the bread and vegetable mix to the buttered baking pan and spread evenly.
- Spread the crumbled cheese evenly over the bread mix.
- Beat the eggs well with the milk. Add olive oil, lemon zest and juice, allspice and cumin powders, red chilli flakes, and oregano. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix thoroughly.
- Pour this mixture over the bread and cheese.
- Keep aside for 30 minutes to allow the bread cubes to soak in the liquid.
- After 30 minutes, gently press down the contents of the pan and sprinkle the top with the pecorino cheese.
- Loosely cover the pan with aluminium foil and place in the heated oven.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Then, remove the foil and continue baking uncovered for another 10 minutes or till the cheese starts to get brown spots.
- Slice and serve with a tomato salad on the side. A semi-dry white wine goes well with this Mediterranean summer bread pudding.