Pumpkin Spice Breakfast Pudding

Serves 6.

Note: This easy overnight casserole is the ultimate in comfort food, with a soft, puddinglike bottom and a crunchy toasted top. If you prefer a vegan variation without dairy or eggs, that’s included below in parentheses. From Robin Asbell.

• 6 c. cubed whole-wheat bread

• 1 c. dried cranberries, or other fruit

• 1/2 c. crystallized ginger, chopped

• 4 eggs (or a 12-oz. pkg. extra-firm silken tofu)

• 3 c. milk (or 2 c. nondairy milk plus 3 tbsp. cornstarch or arrowroot)

• 1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin purée

• 1/2 c. maple syrup

• 1 tsp. cinnamon

• 1/2 tsp. nutmeg

• 1/4 tsp. cloves

• 1 tsp. vanilla

• 1/2 tsp. salt

• Powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar

• Greek yogurt

Sauce:

• 2 c. chopped pears (2 to 3 pears, peeled)

• 1/2 c. maple syrup

• 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Directions

Oil a 2-quart baking dish. Place the cubed bread in the dish, then sprinkle the cranberries and ginger over them.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, pumpkin, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, vanilla and salt. (For the vegan version, place the tofu, nondairy milk, cornstarch or arrowroot, pumpkin, maple, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, vanilla and salt in a blender and process until smooth.) Pour over the bread and stir just a bit to make sure the cranberries are covered with batter but not mixed in. They will fall to the bottom if you mix them in too well. Cover with the lid or wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

To make pear sauce: Place the chopped pears, maple syrup and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally for about 5 minutes, until the pears are tender when pierced with a knife. Transfer to a pitcher or bowl and let cool. Makes 2 cups.

To bake the dish: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Uncover the casserole and bake for an hour, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with no wet batter clinging to it. Dust with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar, serve warm with Greek yogurt and pear sauce over each slice.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 550 Fat 7 g Sodium 500 mg

Carbohydrates 112 g Saturated fat 2 g Total sugars 82 g

Protein 14 g Cholesterol 130 mg Dietary fiber 8 g

Exchanges per serving: ½ milk, ½ fruit, 1 ½ starch, 5 carb, 1 medium-fat protein.