Prep time: 25 minutes • Cook time: 40 minutes • Yield: Serves 6 to 8
6 cups of 1 to 1-1/2-inch cubed bread (about half a loaf) or 6 slices of bread
2 ounces bacon (2 to 3 thick-cut slices), roughly chopped
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 pound of asparagus, trimmed of tough bottoms, spears sliced on the diagonal, in 1-inch-long pieces
1 can (15-ounce) of artichoke hearts (packed in water), drained and chopped
2 tbsp minced chives or green onions (greens only)
2 cups milk
8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Place cubed bread on a baking sheet in a 200-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until somewhat dry. Or you can use stale bread that is no longer soft. Drying the bread in the oven will help keep it from falling apart when you add the egg mixture later.
- Place bacon in medium skillet on medium-high heat and cook until lightly brown and much of the fat is rendered. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon, place on a paper towel lined plate to drain. Pour off all but enough bacon fat to coat the bottom of the pan.
- Add chopped onions to the pan with bacon fat. Cook on medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the bacon back to the pan with the onions, stir, remove from heat.
- While the onions are cooking, bring a small pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain and shock the asparagus in ice water to stop the cooking.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a fork or whisk. Whisk in the milk. Stir in the 1-1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir in the grated cheddar cheese.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Place the cubed bread in the egg milk mixture and press down with your hands so the bread cubes absorb most of the egg milk mixture. Gently fold in the onions, bacon, asparagus, chopped artichoke hearts, and chives. (Be gentle as to not break up the bread.)
- Generously butter the inside of a 2-1/2 to 3-quart (8 x 13 inch) casserole dish. Gently pour the mixture into the casserole dish and spread out in an even layer. At this point, you can make up to a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.
- Bake uncovered at 350°F for 40 minutes. If the casserole starts to get too brown while cooking, cover with foil. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.