Keeping the crusts on the bread adds a satisfyingly chewy texture, but if you prefer a smoother, custardy texture feel free to remove the crusts.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped apple
4 cups chopped fresh spinach
2 cups chopped cooked sweet Italian chicken sausage
6 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided (2.7 oz)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped basil
4 cups of day-old Italian bread cut into 1-inch cubes
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 11 x 7-inch casserole or baking dish with olive oil.
2. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Stir in the garlic, onion and apple. Sauté for about 6 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Add the spinach and stir until slightly wilted, about 30 seconds. Add the diced chicken sausage and set mixture aside.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk and 1/4 cup cheese. Add pepper, parsley and basil.
4. In a large bowl, toss bread with the sausage and vegetable mixture. Stir in the egg mixture and toss to coat. Spoon mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with remaining Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until pudding is set and top is golden brown.