Gruyère is named for the Swiss valley in which it was originally produced. We love the complex earthiness of the cheese, which adds even more depth of flavor to this springy savory bread pudding, inspired by a recipe from Chef Suzanne’s mom. A bright butter lettuce salad on the side balances the creamy decadence of the dish.
8 ounces asparagus
⅛ ounce chives
2 cloves garlic
8 ounces milk
2 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese, divided
2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
2 packets Dijon mustard, divided
1 head butter lettuce
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
1 aluminum tin
¼ cup + 1 teaspoon olive oil
12″ large pan
Do not drain leeks, or the dirt at the bottom will pour over them. Instead, use a slotted spoon or your hands to remove them from the water, then pat dry before adding them to the pan to avoid splattering.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Rinse all produce. Trim and discard woody bottoms of asparagus and cut into 1-inch pieces. Thinly slice chives. Rinse leek and trim and discard dark green tops. Halve lengthwise, then cut crosswise into .25 inch half-moons. Place in a bowl of cold water, separating pieces with your fingers, to let dirt sink to bottom. Mince garlic.
Cut baguette into 1-inch cubes and place on a baking sheet. Toss bread with 1 tablespoon olive oil, .25 teaspoon salt and pepper as desired. Arrange in a single layer and bake until lightly toasted, 7-9 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together milk, half of Gruyère, half of mozzarella, half of mustard, and 2 eggs until combined. When bread is toasted, add to bowl with egg mixture and toss to coat.
Remove leek from water (see Recipe Tip). Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add leek to pan and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add asparagus and garlic to pan with leek and cook until all vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes more. Season with .25 teaspoon salt and pepper as desired and remove pan from heat.
Add sautéed vegetables to bowl with bread and toss to fully coat. Pour vegetable and bread mixture into aluminum tin, reserving pan. Sprinkle over remaining Gruyère and remaining mozzarella and cover with foil. Wipe baking sheet from bread clean. Place tin on baking sheet and bake bread pudding, covered, until cheese begins to melt, 8-10 minutes. Then, uncover and continue baking until cheese is golden and melted, 7-8 minutes more.
While bread pudding bakes, peel shallot and thinly slice into rings. Tear butter lettuce into bite-size pieces, discarding tough stem. Wipe pan from vegetables clean, then return to medium heat with 1 teaspoon olive oil. When oil is shimmering, add shallot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Whisk in Champagne vinegar, remaining mustard, and 2 tablespoons olive oil to fully combine.
Season dressing with .25 teaspoon salt and pepper as desired, then add butter lettuce and toss to coat. Garnish savory Gruyère bread pudding with chives and serve with salad alongside. Dig into your beautiful spring meal!