Savory bread pudding with mushrooms, goat cheese, and thyme

A layered savory bread pudding, otherwise referred to as a strata, is one of my favorite things to make. Its base is bread and custard, and it's filled with all sorts of other flavors from vegetables or meats. The best part is that these casseroles are constructed well in advance (overnight even), and then popped in the oven to bake before serving. The result is such depth of flavor from all of the different elements at play.

I had been dying to make a rustic fall version like this one, with earthy flavors like mushrooms, thyme, and kale (and of course a lot of cheese - namely, goat cheese). Unsurprisingly, it became my every-meal for about a week.

Savory bread pudding with mushrooms, goat cheese, and thyme

Yields about 7-9 servings
2 T butter
2 T oil, divided
About 10 oz mixed mushrooms, scrubbed clean and roughly chopped (I used a mix of crimini, oyster, and shiitake)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 T oil
½ sweet onion (about 1 cup diced)
¼ tsp salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped kale leaves
1 T thyme, finely chopped
5 whole eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 cup half and half
1 T Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
Tons of pepper
5 cups cubed stale Italian or French bread
1 cup grated Asiago cheese
4 oz mozzarella (half a ball of mozzarella)
4 oz goat cheese

(Note: Begin assembly at least 8 hours before you want to serve the strata)

In a large skillet, melt butter and 1 T oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until soft and brown, maybe 5-8 minutes. At the end, salt and pepper the mushrooms generously and then remove from pan and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium, and add remaining 1 T olive oil to pan. Add onions and sauté until soft. Add kale and cook for another few minutes, adding in the garlic and thyme for the last minute or two of cooking, stirring to prevent burning. Season mixture with at least ¼ tsp salt and pepper, or more to taste. Remove from pan and set aside.

In a large measuring cup or bowl, beat together eggs, milk, half and half, Dijon, 1 tsp salt and lots of black pepper.

Spray the baking dish with non-stick spray. Layer half of the bread cubes in the bottom of the baking dish. Then sprinkle in half of the mushrooms (leaving behind any excess liquid), followed by half of the onion/kale mixture. Then sprinkle in half of the mozzarella, a third of the Asiago, and half the goat cheese. Then pour half of the egg mixture over that layer. Repeat this entire process a second time, and then finish with the last third of the Asiago cheese and an extra sprinkling of black pepper.

Cover tightly with foil or plastic wrap and set in fridge for at least 8 hours or overnight. Pull from fridge, uncover, and let come to room temperature for one hour before cooking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the center of the oven.

Bake for about 50 minutes or so, until set and golden. Let sit for about 10 minutes before slicing into it and serving.

PS: it’s even better reheated as leftovers :)