Garden Sweeper Savory Bread Pudding

May 19, 2011
3 Ratings
  • Serves 4-6
Author Notes

I call this dish the Garden Sweeper because I make it with whatever greens happen to be ready in the garden at the moment: collards, kale, spinach, chard. Even pea sprouts, fava leaves and mustard greens work great! In fact, you could call it the Fridge Sweeper instead and use whatever you have on hand. Just adjust your cooking times accordingly. Whatever leafy green you use, the sweet and salty combinations of flavors here work great.

The secret to making this savory bread pudding full-bodied and flavorful (but still dirt cheap) is judicious use of a very few flavorful elements to elevate this simple, humble dish. It's amazing what just a little bit of bacon and a sprinkle of lemon zest can do to envigorate a dish! - vrunka —vrunka

Test Kitchen Notes

This savory bread pudding is a "keeper" of a recipe and definitely earns an EP for its merits. Lighter than a strata but full of flavor, I can imagine many versions of this dish. I paired it with a simple roast chicken for dinner guests and they finished the entire pudding. I substituted some sun-dried tomatoes for the raisins, by the way, and that worked wonderfully. Thumbs up! - Lizthe chef

What You'll Need
  • 2 bacon slices, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups greens (see note) , shredded, packed
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper (or more, if you like)
  • 4 cups bread cubes (a stale, soft bread works best)
  • 3 cups milk
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2-4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • zest of 1 lemon
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a skillet, fry bacon pieces over medium heat until slightly brown, about 3-5 minutes. If all goes well, your bacon should have rendered out 1-2 tablespoons of fat. If it's less, add a little oil and if it's more, drain some off.
  3. Add garlic to skillet and saute for 30 seconds. Add greens and combine well. Add raisins, salt and pepper. If it seems a little dry, add a a splash or two of water. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 3-8 minutes depending on the type of greens you're using (see note).
  4. Meanwhile, whisk milk and eggs together. Combine with bread cubes in a large bowl along with the nutmeg.
  5. When greens are soft, combine them with the bread cubes. Pour the whole mixture into an 8x8" non-stick (or greased) baking pan. Top with cheese. Cover with foil and place in oven for 30-40 minutes or until custard seems mostly set.
  6. Heat broiler, remove foil from baking dish and place dish under broiler. Let brown for about 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven and top with lemon zest. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • susan g
    susan g
  • Lizthechef
  • midnitechef
  • vrunka
I love experimenting in the kitchen and learning new techniques.

5 Reviews

susan G. December 2, 2011
The name of this dish caught my eye, the photo grabbed me, and the bread cubes we didn't use for Thanksgiving were saying, us me! Fresh picked kale and oven dried tomatoes from the freezer sealed the deal -- delicious! No bacon... who needs it?
vrunka February 19, 2012
So glad you enjoyed, susan. And you're right -- the bacon is completely optional!
Lizthechef May 26, 2011
Delighted to test this for an Editor"s Pick.
vrunka May 26, 2011
Thanks for testing this recipe! I hope you enjoy it!
midnitechef May 24, 2011
This could be a Thanksgiving Day dish!