Spinach, Walnut and Gruyère Bread Pudding

Spinach Bread Pudding
When you start planning your holiday meals, you will want to add this savory pudding as one of the side dishes.  It has everything that you want in a bread pudding:  cheese, greens, nuts, spice, flavor and it is beautiful on your buffet.  After our day of recipe testing, there was lots of this pudding left over.  We ate it for days with salad, fish, and in the morning with eggs. Serve With Holiday Cheer Cider. Yield: 6-8 serving: For the filling: 1 medium onion, diced 2 tablespoons butter Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste 10 oz. fresh spinach, tough stems removed and roughly chopped 1 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped 2 tablespoons Tieton Cider Works Holiday Cheer Cider ¼ teaspoon cinnamon ¼ teaspoon allspice Pinch nutmeg 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest Butter for the baking dish 8 ounces gruyère cheese, coarsely grated For the bread: 7 large eggs 2 1/4 cups half and half 6 tablespoons Tieton Cider Works Holiday Cheer cider 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt 1 10 cups day-old country white bread or baguette, torn into 1-inch pieces Heat the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and walnuts.  Season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft, golden brown and caramelized, 20-25 minutes. While the onions and walnuts are cooking, prepare the bread: In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, cider, Dijon and salt.  Add the bread.  Stir gently to make sure the bread is soaked in the egg mixture and set aside. When the onions and walnuts are lightly caramelized add 2 tablespoons of the cider to the pan.  Cook until most of the cider has evaporated, about 1 minute.  Add the spices and cook for 1 minute longer.  Add the chopped spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted and most (but not all) of the water has cooked off; don’t get the spinach too dry or the bread pudding will be dry.  Remove the spinach mixture from the heat and add the lemon zest.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Set aside to cool slightly. Preheat the oven to 350°F and generously butter a 13”x9”x2” baking dish. Using a slotted spoon, transfer half of the bread from the egg mixture and arranging it in the bottom of the baking dish. Spoon half of the spinach mixture over the bread and top with half of cheese.  Repeat with the remaining bread, spinach mixture and cheese. Pour any remaining egg mixture over the top. Cover the bread pudding with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake, uncovered, until the bread feels springy (not wet) to the touch, about 20 minutes longer. Preheat the broiler and broil the bread pudding until the cheese is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Cool for 10-15 minutes and serve.