You should see my blog brainstorms. I have pages and pages of
ideas scribbles torn from legal pads and they are just floating around the house. And the scrap pages are different sizes, which drives me crazy. Some are from standard legal pads and some are from smaller notepads. For someone who is so Type A, you’d think I would find some way to keep my ideas together. I can organize my closet and my glove box and my calendar and my to-do list. But I can’t organize my brain. I just can’t.
See? I’m off topic already.
Anyway, I have all these Thanksgiving ideas. Different flavors and ingredients and dishes that are going to be perfect for that fall feast. And every Thanksgiving needs stuffing. Actually, everything Thanksgiving needs a bird, but I’m not making a whole turkey. And since I’m not making a turkey, my friend Chris told me that I couldn’t make stuffing because it doesn’t count if it’s not stuffed and cooked inside a bird.
I never liked stuffing anyway. Except, my Nana sometimes talks about oyster stuffing, which I think I would like. But most stuffing… no thank you. So this is not stuffing. This is better than stuffing.
I’m trying to create original recipes these days and that’s always a little nerve-wracking. If I were a professional blogger who did this full-time, I wouldn’t mind making food that didn’t turn out well. You just tweak the recipe and try again! But since I’m already working 50-60 hours per week elsewhere and I’m poor (although much more fortunate that others, as you’ll soon learn), I can’t really afford to have kitchen experiments go awry.
Thankfully, this turned out to be the best thing I’ve ever made.
It is absolutely delicious. I mean… Mmm! Soft bread + crispy bread crusts on top + cheese and sausage + onion and garlic and rosemary and thyme + sweet dates. I can’t even explain. This is literally my new favorite thing and I could not wait to stuff my face for daysss with Savory Bread Pudding.
And then the doorbell rang.
And a little lady carrying a rake asked if she could rake my yard so that she could feed her five hungry kids.
And I said, “I don’t have any money, but… do you want a casserole?”
And, let me clarify: This is not a casserole. This is so much better than a casserole. But I was trying to make things simple.
And that is the story of how I made the best dish ever, on the planet, for all of eternity, and then gave it away.
(It was worth it. I also gave her some laundry detergent and my friend threw in a bar of soap. And my neighbor gave her a ride home. It was a pretty sweet day for all of us, I think.)
- 8 cups (about 1 loaf) whole grain bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 8 ounces turkey sausage, casing removed
- 2 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 1 large bunch Swiss chard or kale, ribs removed and leaves chopped
- salt & black pepper, to taste
- 10 dates, sliced in half the long way
- 5 eggs
- 5 cups 1% milk
- 4 ounces gruyere cheese, grated
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a large, rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Spread the bread cubes in a single layer and bake about 12-15 minutes, tossing halfway through. Bread should be crispy on the outside and still slightly soft on the inside.
- Meanwhile, heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sausage and saute, breaking up sausage with a wooden spoon, until browned and just cooked through, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer sausage to another dish and set aside.
- Add the onions, garlic, rosemary, and thyme to the leftover sausage grease and lower heat to medium. Saute until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add half the Swiss chard or kale and saute until wilted. When there is room in the saucepan, add the remaining chard and saute until wilted.
- Turn off the heat. Add bread, turkey sausage, and dates to the onion and chard/kale mixture and mix well.
- In a large bowl, whisk milk and eggs together until frothy. Prepare a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Sprinkle about ¼ cup cheese evenly over the bottom of the dish. Layer with ½ of the bread and vegetable mixture, another ¼ cup cheese, the rest of the bread and vegetable mixture, and another ¼ cup cheese. Pour the milk & egg mixture over the entire dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Let sit about 15 minutes.
- Cover the dish with foil and bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes until the milk and egg mixture is cooked through and no longer runny. The top of the dish should be toasted, but not burnt.
- Let cool about 5 minutes before serving.