Was there a full moon this past Monday? No? Can someone explain, then, the clean dinner plates, clearing the table without being asked, and daughter 1 offering to rub my back while — her suggestion — I sit on the couch watching cooking shows?
Yea, that’s what I thought.
And the meal that inspired this astounding display of benevolence: a simple and savory bread pudding incorporating the traditional favors of a Greek spanakopita. Genius.
Genius because I’ve wanted to do a bread pudding for a while and this meatless-Monday version packs protein with veggies in a kid-friendly format. This was also made with ingredients we had on hand which was even better. Both girls pitched in to make it and played so nicely with one another for the hour it baked that I still feel mysterious and magical forces must have been at play. There is no other explanation.
There were eggs to beat and cheese to crumble and this seemed to get both of them pretty jazzed up to help. Lined up at the kitchen island, whisks in hand, they both pitched in and, once in the oven, they played nicely with one another for the 45 minutes it baked.
I’m a big spanakopita fan as it is, but sometimes the effort of working with phyllo/filo dough and spreading the melted butter on layer after layer is a show stopper, especially on a weeknight. This version came together in about 20 minutes even with my helpers “helping” and required less than an hour to bake up to a nice golden brown.
I’m not tempting fate, but spanakopita bread pudding night is going down in the annals of kitchen history as a very good evening indeed. Definitely worth repeating, and here’s how you can make yours:
Approximately 3 cups of slightly stale 1-inch bread cubes — we used Sunday’s leftover sourdough bread, but half of any hearty artisanal loaf will work
4 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup low-fat milk
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 – 2 scallions, sliced (whites and greens)…we used 1 scallion, but I think the onion factor could have been dialed up
8 ounces frozen thawed chopped spinach (if you have fresh, wilt it in a hot skillet first and use about a cup, chopped)
1 tablespoon melted butter for buttering baking dish
Pre-heat over to 350 degrees. Butter a 13″ x 9″ Pyrex baking dish with melted butter and put to the side.
Mix together the eggs, milk, feta, scallions and spinach and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour mixture over bread cubes and allow bread to soak in the liquids — at least 10 minutes but you can prepare up to this point and place the covered baking dish in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
Bake the spanakopita bread pudding for approximately 45 minutes or until the tops of the bread cubes begin to brown and the casserole begins to bubble. The center should be firm and springy — no hints of raw egg. For a little more browning turn on the broiler and broil on high for no more than a minute or two, watching continuously to avoid burning the top of the bread pudding.
Remove from the oven, allow to cool for five minutes, and cut the bread pudding into generous squares.
Kid rating: as daughter 1 said, “ten stars.” So much for my five-star rating system but trust me, I’m thrilled. Daughter 2 “loved it” and daughter 1 added that it was “super good” and “tastes a little like a pizza.” Hmmmm.
Parent rating: five stars. Like I said, mystical and magical forces at play. This is going to become a go-to recipe in our kitchen. Serve with a light cucumber salad, some olives…or even as a side dish with grilled chicken or fish.