Parmesan Bread Pudding with Broccoli Rabe and Pancetta

Parmesan Bread Pudding

I have a love hate relationship with salt.  I love salt – it is a necessary ingredient for almost everything, although sometimes too much of a good thing completely backfires.  That’s exactly what happens with salt.  As soon as you cross over the edge of too much salt – your entire recipe is ruined.  Then I hate salt.   There are times when a wedge of potato can fix your mess (like in soups), but there are other times when you are just out of luck.  Boy do I hate when that happens…and it is not always my fault – which makes it even worse.

Over the years, I have gotten really good at knowing when I have salted enough.  If anything, I will err on the side of a little less salt, and put the salt on the table for people to add their own.  My in-laws for instance, do not use any salt – I have to be very careful when I cook for them that there is no hint of salt – I can use a little to bring out the flavor – but that is about it.  Eggs are just about the most difficult thing to judge though – especially when they are raw, and you are trying to salt before you cook.

I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit, and I have been excited to make it for months.  I finally had the opportunity – and when I read through the recipe, there was one thing that struck me – the amount of salt.  The recipe called for a teaspoon of salt – that is a lot – but then again, there were six eggs.  I decided to follow the recipe exactly, since Bon Appetit usually does an excellent job testing their recipes before they publish.  I should have gone with my instincts.  This dish was so salty, it was almost hard to eat.  I was super disappointed, because I could tell that it would have been awesome had the salt not overpowered the world.  I had to make it again – it was driving me nuts.  This time I put in half the salt – and it was so much better – I could actually taste the pancetta and the cheese, oh and that tender bread that was crunchy on the outside – wow.  Exactly what I had imagined the first time.

I amended the recipe below to save you from high blood pressure, swelling, drinking too much water (hey wait, that’s a good thing isn’t it) – and so you can taste all those other ingredients in this bread pudding.  Don’t worry salt – even though I may hate you at times, I will always find a way to love you again.  Isn’t that what a love hate relationship is all about?  Or is it, I hate to love you, and love to hate you?  Now that’s just plain silly.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium bunch broccoli rabe (rapini), trimmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups whole  milk
  • 1/2 pound country-style white bread, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan
  • 6 thin slices pancetta (Italian bacon)


Preheat oven to 350°. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium  heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Stir until garlic is softened, about 30  seconds. Add broccoli rabe; sea-son with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing, until  wilted, about 2 minutes; let cool slightly.  Meanwhile, whisk eggs, milk, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2  teaspoons pepper in a large bowl to blend. Add broccoli rabe mixture, bread, and  1/2 cup Parmesan; toss to combine. Transfer to a 1-1/2-qt. baking dish. Top with  pancetta and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan.

Bake pudding until puffed, browned in spots, and set in the  center, 45-55 minutes.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Parmesan Bread Pudding with Broccoli Rabe and Pancetta

Parmesan Bread Pudding 2


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