Savory Tomato and Pesto Bread Pudding
Serves 6 to 8.
Note: From “A Mouthful of Stars,” by Kim Sunée.
• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 large yellow or white onion, halved and thinly sliced
• 1 c. dry white wine
• 1 c. chicken or vegetable broth
• 1 tbsp. dried herbes de Provence or thyme leaves
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 (1-lb.) round loaf day-old hearty bread, sliced 1/2 in. thick
• 2 lb. large ripe tomatoes, such as beefsteak, sliced 1/2 in. thick
• 1 1/2 c. pesto (recipe below or substitute another)
• 2 c. shredded Comté or Gruyère cheese
• 1/4 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Heat oil in large pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 10 minutes. Add wine and simmer over medium-high heat until liquid is reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Add broth and herbes de Provence, and season with salt and pepper; stir and let simmer about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and reserve.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter bottom of 10-inch round or 9- by 13-inch baking dish that’s at least 2 1/2 inches deep. Line baking dish with half of the bread slices, overlapping slices slightly and cutting to fit as needed. Top with half of tomato slices; lightly season with salt and pepper. Spread half of pesto over tomatoes, then sprinkle with half of shredded cheese, pressing down on the layers.
Add the remaining layer of tomatoes, pesto and shredded cheese. Pour the reserved onion and broth mixture over the cheese. Cut the remaining bread slices into quarters and place over the onion. Gently press down on the bread with back of spatula or large spoon so that liquid is evenly distributed. Top with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Cover with lightly greased aluminum foil and bake in upper third of oven for 1 hour. Uncover and bake for 10 minutes more, or until top is browned and crisp and insides are bubbling. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Spicy Walnut-Arugula Pesto
Makes 1 1/2 cups.
Note: This is a spicier than usual pesto. From “A Mouthful of Stars,” by Kim Sunée.
• 2 c. packed arugula
• 1 c. tightly packed fresh basil leaves
• 1/2 c. tightly packed fresh mint leaves or flat-leaf parsley leaves
• 1 c. whole walnuts or raw almonds
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled
• 1 medium fresh jalapeño, stemmed (and seeded, if desired)
• 1/4 to 1/3 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
• 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice or white wine vinegar
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• About 1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
Combine arugula, basil, mint, walnuts, garlic, jalapeño, Parmigiano-Reggiano, lemon juice and salt in bowl of food processor and pulse to combine. Slowly drizzle in olive oil until well blended. Taste and add more olive oil, lemon juice or salt as needed.