Dish of the Week: Up Your Brunch Game With a Savory Bread Pudding

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we’re turning a traditional dessert into something perfect for brunch with savory bread pudding.

Food historians have traced the origins of bread pudding to the early 11th and 12th centuries, when it was created as a frugal way to use stale bread. In 13th-century England, it was referred to as "poor man's pudding." Then, it was likely a simple mixture of stale bread, milk, and some form of fat and sweetener. As time went on, bread pudding’s world expanded.

As we said, when you think of bread pudding today, you probably think of a dessert consisting of stale bread that gets soaked in custard before being baked with things like cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla. It’s usually drizzled with a caramel, chocolate, or boozy whiskey or rum sauce before being devoured alongside ice cream.

While that’s delicious, you’re missing out on a different side of bread pudding, a savory one that’s about to bring some major jazz to your brunch (or breakfast, lunch and dinner) game. Do so by adding ingredients like eggs, crumbled sausage and bacon, fresh herbs, nutty Gruyère, funky goat cheese or sharp cheddar, and everything from mushrooms and artichokes to slightly sweet things like apples and maple syrup.

This recipe, from Fresh Every Day: More Great Recipes from Foster's Market by Sara Market as seen on Chowhound, incorporates crumbled breakfast sausage, fresh spinach leaves, Swiss and Parmesan, and a bit of Dijon mustard for zest. Use day-old crusty Italian or French bread for best results, and feel free to switch up the ingredients to suit your tastes.

Savory Breakfast and Sausage Bread Pudding

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for buttering the baking dish
1 large yellow onion, diced
1/2 pound breakfast or Italian sausage, removed from the casing
4 cups spinach leaves, washed and drained (about 6 ounces or 1 large bunch)
2 1/2 cups milk
8 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 cups 1 1/2-inch cubes day-old country Italian or French bread
1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese (about 6 ounces)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 ounces)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary


Butter a 9×13-inch glass baking dish. Melt but don’t brown the two tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for three to five minutes, until it is soft and translucent. Add the sausage and cook about four minutes, breaking the sausage into pieces as it cooks, until it is cooked through. Stir in the spinach and sauté just until it is wilted, about two minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat. Drain off the liquid.

Whisk the milk, eggs, mustard, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Add the bread and stir to coat. Stir in the sausage, cheeses, thyme and rosemary and pour into the prepared baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Twenty minutes before you’re ready to bake the bread pudding, remove it from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Bake the bread pudding for 45 to 50 minutes, until it is puffy and light golden brown. Remove the bread pudding from the oven and let it sit for about five minutes before serving. Serve warm.
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Brooke Viggiano is a contributing writer who is always looking to share Houston's coolest and tastiest happenings with the Houston Press readers.
Contact: Brooke Viggiano