I dislike wasting food. I’ve blogged before on the enormous amount of bread that gets binned in the UK – 24 million slices a day. And I’ve also offered a few suggestions for how to cut down on bread wastage in particular.
But here’s an unusual recipe we’ve used a couple of times recently, which has helped us use up some leftover ends of stale bread. It’s essentially a savoury bread pudding! It’s not the most attractive of dishes, hence the absence of a photo, but it’s a tasty oven bake.
The original recipe came from Claire Thomson and featured on Saturday Kitchen a few months back. Do check out the original, but I’ve put a version below, which is how I tend to do it – milk instead of cream, no radicchio, less bread and less cheese… (those final five words are ones you rarely hear from me!!)
If you get to the end of a loaf and have ends or odd slices remaining, why not try slicing it up, bagging it and freezing it. Then quickly thaw out the required amount and give this a go.
3 bay leaves
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp dried thyme (or fresh as in the recipe)
1 small cauliflower, cut into florets
25g unsalted butter
25g plain flour
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp olive oil
4 fat sausages or 6 smaller ones, meat removed from the skins
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced (I just tend to mince it!)
250-300g stale, sliced crusty white bread. (I tend to cut the bread into slices and then cube it)
30g parmesan, grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil with the bay leaves, fennel seeds, thyme and a good pinch of salt – you need enough water to cover and cook the cauliflower and for the volume of water to total at least 400ml.
Cook the cauliflower in the water until soft and cooked through – about 5 mins. Drain and reserve the cauliflower water to make the sauce. The fennel seeds are fine left in; remove the thyme stalks and bay leaves. Put the cooked florets in a large baking dish and set aside.
Return the pan to a moderate heat. Melt the butter, add the flour, combine and stir for a couple of minutes to make a roux.
Add 400ml of the hot herby cauliflower water gradually to the roux and whisk vigorously to ensure no lumps form. Turn down the heat and cook the sauce for about 10 minutes stirring often until the sauce has thickened to the consistency of double cream. Take off the heat and allow to cool a little. Then mix in the milk, vinegar, and mustard. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, place a large frying pan over a moderate heat and add the oil. When hot, add the sausage meat and fry for 3 minutes until roughly broken up and browning in places. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Add the bread and thyme leaves and give the pan a good stir to combine over a low heat for another 2 minutes. You may need to do this in a couple of batches, depending on the size of the pan. Take off the heat and add the cooked cauliflower pieces and stir.
Spread the contents of the pan in a large baking dish in one even layer. Sprinkle the parmesan over the top and pour the sauce over. Cook in the oven for 40-45 minutes until bubbling with some pieces of the bread on the top going crisp and golden brown.
Place a spoonful of the pudding on a serving plate and serve with salad or green vegetables.