- 1 large baguette (about 3/4 lb)
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb cooked ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 4 large eggs
- 1 qt whole milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 6 cups spinach leaves (about 1 bunch), coarsely chopped
- 3/4 lb Fontina cheese, grated or swiss cheese and smoked gouda
Diagonally cut baguette crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick slices and brush both sides with butter. Cut into crouton-sized chunks. Toast on a baking sheet under broiler 3 inches from heat until golden, about 30 seconds on each side. (Buttering and toasting bread step can be omitted if short on time.)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Saute onions in oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden. Add ham and saute, stirring occasionally, until ham is lightly browned.
Whisk eggs in a large bowl and whisk in milk, salt, nutmeg, and pepper to taste. Add toasted bread and toss gently. Transfer bread as saturated to a shallow, buttered 3-quart casserole. Add any remaining egg mixture.
Tuck spinach, ham, and cheese amidst bread. Bake in middle of oven 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until puffed and edges of bread are golden and custard is set in middle.
Cook's note: Bread pudding can be assembled 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Increase baking time to 1 hour and 10 minutes if bread pudding is cold when put in oven, and cover top with foil after 45 minutes to prevent overbrowning.
Serve with a sliced fennel bulb and apple, minced shallots with celery and roasted walnut salad.
Makes 6 servings