A savoury bread pudding – a luscious side or a decadent dinner

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Even in my meat-eating days, my favourite part of a holiday dinner was the stuffing. Just smelling sage and rosemary still takes my mind back to childhood holidays.

Since I wasn’t having any sort of dinner gathering this holiday, I decided to have just stuffing as dinner. With just a few tweaks to my mother’s original recipe, I created this dish which is crunchy, savoury, and full of contrasting textures thanks to the chestnuts, lentils and toasty bread. It can still be served as a luscious side in lieu of potatoes or other starches, or it can be eaten as a main course in its own right with lots of colourful veggies.

The dish is easy and only takes two days to make. Kidding!!! You do need stale bread but if you don’t have two days to let your bread get stale, you can toast it.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients

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12-14 oz loaf of stale (or toasted) bread – white or whole grain – cut or torn into bite-sized pieces

3 stalks of celery sliced

1 onion diced

1 cup vegetable broth

100 grams roasted, chopped chestnuts (about 9-11 chestnuts)

½ cup chopped walnuts

¾ cup cooked lentils (about ½ a can if you’re using canned).

1/2 cup margarine

3 tsp poultry seasoning

2 tsp dried sage

1 Tbsp fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp dried)

1 tsp salt

Pepper to taste (I use about ½ tsp)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

In a very large pot combine the margarine, onion and celery. Heat on a medium-high heat and sauté until the onion just starts to soften. Add the poultry seasoning, sage, rosemary, salt and pepper and mix to combine. Turn off the heat. Add the bread, chestnuts, walnuts and lentils and mix with the margarine-onion-herb mixture to coat all the bread. Pour in the broth and stir again to moisten the bread (the bread will not be wetted through).

Spoon this mixture into a 9”x9” baking pan and pat it down so it’s compressed and firm.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven. You want some crunchy crust to form on the top.

Serve immediately with colourful veggies and vegan gravy.

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This savoury bread pudding will keep covered in the fridge for 3 days.

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Thug Kitchen’s Apple Baked Beans

Finishedbowl1.jpgThese “baked” beans are a misnomer since they’re cooked entirely on the stovetop. That means, though, that they’re a great dish to make all year round. They’re tangy, sweet and just a little bit different thanks to the addition of diced apple and fresh rosemary.

I follow the Thug’s recipe faithfully except for a few tweaks: maple syrup, liquid smoke and salt (don’t add the salt ‘til the end; you may not need it). Here’s their recipe, tidied up a bit for delicate sensibilities (that would not be mine) and with photos, which are not in the cookbook.

There is some overnight prep involved – read the recipe all the way through!

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Ingredients

1 ½ cups dried white beans (I use a mix of navy beans and Great Northern beans)

2 tsps olive oil

½ onion diced

1 clove garlic minced

1 tsp smoked paprika

½ tsp liquid smoke

15 oz can tomato sauce

1 Tbsp molasses

2 Tbsp maple syrup (or brown sugar)

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tsps soy sauce or tamari

1 tsp sea salt (optional)

1 sprig rosemary (sprig should be about 6-8” long)

2 ½ cups vegetable broth

1 medium apple washed but not peeled, cored and cut into pieces about the size of your pinky fingertip. I use either a Granny Smith or Macintosh apple.

Directions

Soak the beans in a big bowl of water for 8 hours. I soak my beans in the fridge overnight.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Sauté the onion for about 5 minutes, until it’s starting to turn golden. Add the garlic and paprika and cook for another 30 seconds.

Add the drained beans, tomato sauce, molasses, vinegar, maple syrup (or brown sugar), liquid smoke, vegetable broth and rosemary. Stir it all up. This is the “witch’s brew” stage or as the Thug’s say it will look like you’re “trying to cast a spell or some shit”.

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Simmer this all together for about 1 hour. The leaves will have fallen off your rosemary so just fish out the remaining twig.

At this point, taste the beans and add salt, if you want.

Stir in the chopped apple and simmer for about another 30 minutes.

Serve up immediately. This dish will last for 4 days in the fridge and freezes well. It makes 4 extremely filling servings.