Clean Sweep

Cleaning out your freezer only to discover a large bag of leftover challah? You are not alone. Using up your leftover challah can be as simple as French toast for dinner tonight. But if you are a creative cook you will want to try one of our delicious recipes.

Spinach and Cheese Strata

Strata is essentially a savory bread pudding, and lends itself beautifully to variations like spinach, mushrooms or peppers.

  •  2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 large Spanish onion, minced
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 2 cups frozen spinach, thawed, or fresh, checked spinach, cut in ribbons
  • 8 cups challah, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 8 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 oz. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 9 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 Tbs. Dijon or yellow mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and then add the onion, cooking until it’s soft and translucent. Stir in the spinach and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook for three minutes more. Remove from heat and set aside.

Butter a 9 x 13 x 3-inch casserole dish. Layer the bread cubes, cheeses, and cooked spinach mixture, making three layers.

Whisk the eggs and milk together, and then add the mustard, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour over the strata. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for several hours or overnight.

Set the dish out to come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350°F, and bake for 45–50 minutes or until the edges have browned slightly and pulled away from the edges.

Mushroom–Leek Bread Pudding

  • 1 lb. challah, cut into ¾-inch cubes
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, plus more for dish
  • 1 lb. assorted mushrooms (such as cremini, oyster, shiitake), cut into slices
  • 4 medium leeks, washed, halved lengthwise, then cut into ¼-inch slices
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped dried thyme
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4  cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 350°F. On a baking sheet, arrange bread cubes in a single layer and bake, stirring once, until light golden brown, about 12 minutes; set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add leeks, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt and the thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Transfer to a bowl; let cool. Butter a 2-quart baking dish; set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, milk, cheeses, pepper and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Add bread and egg mixture to mushrooms; stir to combine. Transfer to prepared baking dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours.

Heat oven to 350°F. Unwrap dish; bake until golden brown and egg mixture is set, about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand 20 minutes before serving.

Panzanella Salad

Panzanella is an Italian salad made of bread cubes and tomatoes. It is thought to have been invented to use slightly stale bread — kind of like what we’re looking to do here!

 For the salad:

  • 3 Tbs. good olive oil
  • 6 cups challah, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 seedless cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • A small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 20 large basil leaves, checked and coarsely chopped

 For the vinaigrette:

  • 1 tsp. crushed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbs. vinegar
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan. Add the bread and salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

For the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients together.

In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, red onion, basil and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Praline French Toast Casserole

This recipe makes a delicious dessert that can be served Shabbos. It can be milchig if you prefer. Simply substitute milk chocolate for the bittersweet and heavy cream for the topping.

  • 1/2 lb. good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup praline paste
  • 10 slices challah
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 cups whipping cream or topping
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3–4 Tbsp. butter

Melt chocolate in a double boiler or microwave. Stir in praline and mix until combined.

Grease a 9 x 13-inch oven-to-table dish.

Spread chocolate praline mixture over five of the challah slices. Top with remaining slices to make five sandwiches. Place the sandwiches in the prepared dish.

Whisk together eggs, topping, vanilla and salt. Pour over the challah. Using tongs or your fingers, turn to make sure sandwiches soak up egg mixture. Fit them all into the pan. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake casserole about 45 minutes or until well browned and edges are crispy. Serve warm.

One should consult a Rav regarding checking of problematic vegetables for infestation.