Pretty darn good. You need somewhat stale bread for bread puddings, otherwise the bread will disintegrate. You can lightly toast fresh bread to achieve a stale-like consistency, either in a toaster or in the oven. To make this recipe a main course on its own, add a cup of two of chopped, cooked ham, chicken, turkey, sausage, tempeh, tofu…
6 c cooked winter squash, in 1-inch cubes, if possible
6 large eggs
2 c half-and-half
6 T dry white wine
1 1/2 t Dijon or other mustard
salt and pepper, to taste
10 c torn or coarsely chopped day-old baguette or other hearty bread
2 T olive oil
1 c chopped onion or leek
8 – 10 c coarsely chopped greens
2 c coarsely shredded cheddar or other cheese, or a combination
1. Two ways to get the 6 cups of cooked squash: i) peel squash (butternut is easiest); cut into 1-inch cubes; toss with olive oil; spread on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, bake in a 400ºF oven for 20 to 25 minutes, turning with a spatula once (if you remember); or ii) pierce a large squash in a couple of places and bake in said oven for 45 minutes to an hour until a knife goes in easily, let cool, split open, remove seeds, and scrape out 6 cups of squash, trying to retain some shape if possible. Place cooked squash in a very large bowl.
2. Meanwhile, whisk eggs, half-and-half, wine, mustard, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Add pieces of baguette; fold into egg mixture. Let soak for 30 minutes, stirring gently now and then.
3. Then, heat olive oil in a skillet. Sauté onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add greens, in batches, and, once wilted, cook for about 5 minutes. The greens don’t have to be really tender as they will be baked to tenderness later.
4. Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF. Butter a 13- x 9- x 2-inch baking dish. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bread pieces to the large bowl containing squash. Reserve egg mixture. Add onion/greens mixture to large bowl. If adding cooked ham, etc., do so here. Toss to combine. Spread half of this mixture in baking dish. Sprinkle with one cup of the cheese. Cover with remaining mixture. Top with rest of cheese. Pour reserved egg mixture all over bread pudding.
5. Cover dish with foil. Bake 20 minutes. Remove foil; bake another 20 minutes until the custard is set and the pudding feels springy to the touch. If you like, you can switch the oven to the broiler and broil for about 2 minutes, to brown the top. Let stand about 5 minutes before serving.