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I spent four years in Boston during college and fell in love with the city almost instantly.

The excited fervor that took over the city whenever the Red Sox were playing; and, of course, the happy chaos when they won the World Series in 2007.

The almost palpable elation on the first day that felt like spring, as the whole city seemed to take to the streets to revel in the glory of it.

The ice cream. JP Licks – you’ll always be my one and only.

The Charles River, which I ran along more days then I can remember, going from one bridge to another depending on the distance.

The food, which was just so good. Some of my favorite restaurants of all time are in Boston and it was there that I stopped being a picky eater and started to taste everything.

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And then, of course, there was Marathon Monday.

I’d never really thought about marathons much at all before living in Boston, let alone running one myself. But in 2009 I went with my cousin Meghan to watch her then-boyfriend run Boston. I cheered along with her in Newton and then took the T with her to Boylston to see the runners as they neared the finish line. You couldn’t help but be taken with the thrill of it all.  I was training for my first half marathon at the time and it was that day, watching the Boston Marathon, that I decided I couldn’t just stop at 13.1.

For me, it was going to be 26.2 or bust.  Proof that you can’t watch a marathon and not be inspired. You just can’t.

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Which is perhaps why this hurts so much, why I, as a runner and a former Bostonian, feel as if this was such a personal attack.

When you train for a marathon you put in so much hard work and dedication, and to see the culmination of all that tarnished by so much pain and suffering is just terrible. And so unreal.

My heart and thoughts are with everyone who was affected by these horrific events.  We, as a running comminity, as a city, and as a nation are stronger than this.  And we will rise above it.  Because that’s just what we do.

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In the spring of 2011, I ran the Boston Marathon after qualifying at my first marathon in the fall of 2009.

It was an almost impossibly hard race, but I did it, and no one could ever take that away from me.

Since then, I’ve never felt any need to run Boston again. As I said before, it’s a hard course, and honestly, I’m nowhere near as fast as I used to be so qualifying would take a lot of hard work and a little bit of a miracle.  But after Monday’s horrific events, I know I need to run it again.

Whatever it takes to get there, even if it’s years in the making, I’m going to get there.

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It’s kind of ironic that this beautiful meal is accompanied by all this and there’s no good or easy transition.

So I’ll just put it out there – this is the best thing I’ve eaten in a long time.  The bread pudding tastes decadent, but isn’t (250 calories/serving – WIN) and this salad from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem is possibly one the best things I’ve ever tasted.  Definitely top ten.  Even The.Boy agrees with me on this one although, to be fair, he loves salad way more than I do.

There is just something so captivating about the combination of slightly pickled onions and dates with the spicy citrusy crispy crunchy sumac-coated pita croutons and chopped almonds. Every bite is magical. So much so that you don’t even remember you’re eating something that’s actually good for you.  I’ve made it twice in the past week and so if this isn’t love at first bite, I’m not really sure what is.  So if there’s anything you make from my blog EVER…make it this salad it. Trust me.

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One year ago…Mexican Pizza with Kale, Queso, and a Chipotle Tomato Sauce
Three years ago…Mango Chicken Curry
Four years ago…Cranberry-Orange Sauce

Parmesan Bread Pudding with Broccoli Rabe
Serves 6, adapted from Bon Appetit April 2013

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
    1 medium bunch broccoli rabe, trimmed and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 1/2 lb country-style white bread, cut into 1″ pieces (I used a roasted garlic loaf from Whole Foods)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the garlic and red pepper flakes for about 30 seconds, or until garlic is fragrant. Add in the broccoli rabe and season to taste with salt and pepper. Saute for 2 minutes or until wilted. Set aside to cool a bit.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, 2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Toss in the bread cubes, broccoli rabe mixture, and 1/2 cup parmesan until combined. Transfer to a 9×13-inch baking pan. Top with remaining 2 tbsp parmesan.
  3. Bake until puffed, browned in spots, and set in the center, about 45 minutes.

Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds
Serves 4, adapted from Jerusalem via Lottie + Doof

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 100 g/3 1/2 oz pitted dates, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small pitas, torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup salted almonds, chopped
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 5 oz baby spinach

Instructions

  1. Put the onion slices, dates, and vinegar in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and toss to combine with  your hands. Let sit for 20 minutes. Strain out any remaining liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, put the butter and olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat so that butter melts. Add in the pita and almonds, stirring constantly for 5 minutes or until pitas are crisp. Remove from heat and stir in teh sumac and red pepper flakes. Allow to cool a bit.
  3. Toss the spinach with the onion/date/vinegar mixture and the pita/almond mixture. Season to taste with salt. (If desired you can also toss with a bit of lemon juice and olive oil as more of a dressing, but I found that it was super flavorful as is and didn’t really need it.)

I am submitting this to I Heart Cooking Clubs as well as Souper Sundays hosted by Deb at Kahakai Kitchen.

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You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at http://joanne-eatswellwithothers.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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83 Responses to Parmesan Bread Pudding with Broccoli Rabe and Ottolenghi’s Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds

  1. Couldn’t agree with you more about Boston! Love this city.
    This bread pudding looks amaaazing.

  2. Love this post, still can’t get over what happened on Monday.

  3. Pam says:

    Love savory bread puddings, and I think we are all still reeling about Monday.

  4. I couldn’t believe what I heard and saw on TV yesterday…WTF…can’t get the face of that poor little boy out of my head.
    The cheesy bread pudding looks terrific!

  5. I subscribe to Bon Appetit. How did I miss the Parmesan Bread Pudding? You just brought it to life for me…thank you b/c it looks so good!

  6. Shane hasn’t actually run Boston yet. He’s been trying to qualify for a year and a half, and is hoping he’ll get to run either next year or in 2015. Maybe we’ll see you there? :)

    I’ve never made a savory bread pudding, but I love the flavors in this one so much!

  7. Simply Life says:

    great post. It’s so true- you can’t run a marathon without feeling inspired. The running community is incredible and it’s been so touching to see the heros throughout this tragedy.

  8. This post is incredibly touching. I love Boston and never imagined something like this happening so close to home. On a lighter note, I’ve been thinking about making that salad for a while and will definitely do so soon.

  9. I have never really had a desire to run a marathon but am always so amazed by people who do. It is definitely something to be proud of.

    I shouldn’t have looked at this post because I’m getting some blood work done this morning and have to fast. Now you have my tummy gurgling.

  10. Johanna GGG says:

    It is terrible what happened in boston – I keep thinking of these injured people who so treasure peak physical fitness and it seems so wrong – not that injury is ever right! I actually thought of you as I remembered you writing about the boston marathon and I had to check it was as long ago as I thought rather than recently. I am sure it will make the boston marathon more special because it will now be a way of remembering so many people who were hurt in so many ways. Make eating a delicious bread pudding seem even more precious!

  11. london bakes says:

    Such a great post Joanne, I have no doubt that you’ll run in Boston again someday soon.

  12. I have so much love for the running community. It was personal. AND, we will rise above, as you said. Thank you.

  13. I am sick about the events in Boston, and I am sick of these people who are so twisted and evil. And I am very glad you were not there this year! And the salad sounds amazing.

  14. Amy says:

    Paul said to me last night, “Every major event is going to be related to some tragedy” So much sadness. I can’t take it.

  15. Marcia says:

    That looks so good. I’ve never made bread pudding.

    Why are people so evil? These vents just make me hug my kids so tight.

  16. Stacy says:

    I make bread pudding occasionally for my husband because he loves it but the rest of the family, including me? Meh. But this post is a revelation! Savory bread pudding with Parmesan and greens? I am all in.

    I’ll be rooting for you as you train!

  17. Foodycat says:

    I’m just glad you weren’t running! You are the only runner I “know” in the US and my heart did sink thinking you might have been there.

  18. (I just tried writing this comment and I think it’s deleted so sorry if this is a repeat) Beautiful dish and beautiful post. Now is the time for us all, as a country and as a human race, to understand that the aim of the Boston marathon is to create an event that shows people coming together, uniting over what is seemingly a super human feat. How powerful is that? We cannot let one person or one group of people’s devastating, fear-driven actions get in the way of that. Rather, it must empower us to move forward with even more strength, focus, and collaboration. Every single day. Whether you do run it again or not, let’s both (and everyone else) find new ways to exceed our potential in at least one way, every day.

  19. What a lovely post, and I hope you’ll be running in Boston again soon. Also, I want to devour everything on that plate.

  20. sandra says:

    I am sure you’ll make it back to Boston. You have such determination in all you do, it is an inspiration. I am glad you mentioned the cookbook, Jerusalem. Others have recommended it to me and now I know I must buy it.

  21. Thank you for this uplifting post… In times of tragedy and chaos, we need to hear and read these words. My heart goes out to Boston, especially to the families of the victims. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and accompanying it with this lovely dish.

  22. Wow, Joanne that is high praise. I have to bookmark this salad for when our Whole30 is over. I have no words for the horrific and senseless tragedy in Boston. I am just sad and sickened over it :(

  23. You’ve captured in words so many of the aspects of Boston that make it feel like home to me. I’m glad to hear you think of the city with such fondness and that it played a great role in your running and culinary adventures. We will be stronger for this, I have no doubt!

  24. I bet the support of runners and the city in general is going to be overwhelming at next year’s marathon, as it has been in the aftermath of such a horrible tragedy. As a former Bostonian also, I felt like a piece of my heart broke that day. We will rise above it though.

  25. I went to grad school in Boston for two years and it is a very special city (I hate the idea one has to choose to love either NY or Boston). I’m heartbroken that I can’t be there right now.

  26. You make being veggie look so good…this plate, for example has so much variety, texture and flavor–not to mention it’s gorgeous on the plate! Hope you’ve been well, Jo!!

  27. Lynn says:

    I thought about you during the aftermath of Monday and how you ran the Boston marathon before. I’m glad you want to go back.

    And I have printed this recipe out and will make it this weekend. How can I not? :)

  28. Lora says:

    The bread puddling looks like pure comfort food. Something we can all use after Monday.

  29. Gloria Baker says:

    I have to say you dear Joanne I was really worry about you cause you run all marathons you love! and when I saw the first news I think hope she doesnt run this time sigh!!
    Yes is one of the most terrible things I have seen, here from Chile run about 34 people, but thanks God are all well but really schocked, so sad.

    This look amazing I love your parmesan bread pudding!

    take care

  30. Beth says:

    I thought of you, as I thought of all my runner friends, after I heard the devastating news on Monday. It truly is a time for community, and for comforting one another.

    Your bread pudding looks delicious and I’m looking forward to trying it.

  31. Geni says:

    My heart breaks for the victims and their families. Senseless violence and lives lost can never ever be understood. Such innocent human beings who were all gathered for health and good times. It’s just so heart wrenching.Was so relieved you weren’t there but deeply saddened for those who were.

    This bread pudding does look incredible and would be a great thing to serve for our bookclub dinners. YUM!

  32. All this nonsense in the US makes me glad I am only moving for a year. I love having new salads to try, though! Except I am all out of dates. I think that may be the first dried fruit I replace after I eat through everything else first… and then I will make this salad. :)

  33. Mary says:

    In the face of such mindless and cruel evil it can be easy to forget just how much good surrounds us. I know you’ll run that marathon to honor the memory of those who whose lives were forever changed by this event. The rest of us struggle to find ways to help. Though we are on the other side of the country, the Silver Fox, along with me and other friends, are donating blood in their memory. It seemed more meaningful than money. The salad sounds delicious. Have a good day, Joanne. Blessings…Mary

  34. Monday was unbelievable. I was thinking about you knowing a) you lived in Boston and b) ran the marathon, but as a runner in general the whole thing just “hurts”. I’m so happy that you’re going to try to run it again. As you know, I’m trying to qualify right now as well, making this the perfect opportunity for us to “run for Boston” but also to hopefully run together again. I hope you’re holding up, friend! Miss you dearly! Hug that sweet guy you have extra tight…forever!

  35. Joanne, I haven’t visited blogs in a while but when I saw what happened in Boston, you were my first thought. I know we’ve never met, but I’ve enjoyed reading your posts and been inspired by your training. I am happy to hear you weren’t in the city. I was in Boston last week, my first visit there and yes it’s hard not to love the city. I am sure it’ll flourish once again. Best wishes on your new goal. Cheers!

  36. Pam says:

    Just heard someone has been arrested, what a horror!
    You’re right about marathons being inspring, my DIL who is getting ready for the Chicago Marathon in the fall would agree.

  37. Shannon says:

    I can’t stop myself from tearing up everytime I read a beautifully written ode to Boston. It just still hurts so much.

    Boston is the city I abandoned my home for. It’s the city that I both fell in-love with and fell in-love in.

    I’m not a runner but my heart aches for those who worked harder physically and emotionally than I can ever imagine to cross that finish line.

    I love that you want to run Boston again and I really hope you do.

    AND beautiful dish… I’m just a lurker these days but I still bookmark almost everything you post!

  38. I totally thought about you when I heard about Boston’s incident. You run all the time and I couldn’t help but think that you might have taken part in this! It really was a horrific event and I don’t know what the hell is wrong with people.

    On a more positive note, I love this bread pudding! I usually have more of the dessert, sweet-type bread puddings but savory is definitely the way to go!

  39. Big Dude says:

    I’d been wondering if and hoping you were not running in Boston.

  40. meigancam01 says:

    Great article with excellent idea! I appreciate your post. Thanks so much and let keep on sharing your stuffs keep it up.holy food
    religious food

  41. <3 i will be cheering you on when you run Boston!

  42. SallyBR says:

    Hubby failed to qualify for the Boston, he was 10 minutes short and planned to try again the following year, but a knee injury cut that dream short. I could never qualify, not even for a miracle. But, as you, I would love to be there in the future. Except, I know I won’t be able to, but will be following your training and rooting for you at least virtually…

    this meal is close to perfection for me. A Brazilian blogger has made this salad and thought it was one of the best ever! I bookmarked to prepare, haven’t made it yet… I’ll get there, one leaf or lettuce at a time

  43. Guru Uru says:

    This savoury pudding is utterly delicious my friend!
    And you are very courageous to go back to Boston and start the marathon and support your running community!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  44. Hotly Spiced says:

    Good on you for making a decision to run the Boston Marathon again. The events on Monday were beyond tragic and appalling. Like you say, we will rise against this terror. I’m loving the look of this meal and the salad definitely sounds intriguing xx

  45. Pam says:

    My thoughts are with the people of Boston right now. I am so glad you will go back to Boston for another marathon.

    The savory bread pudding looks irresistible!

  46. Joanne, I actually sent you an email yesterday (maybe it went to your junk/spam) seeing if you were okay. I know you’re a runner and didn’t know if you were actually in that race. I’m so happy to see you posted today! xoxo

  47. Gwen says:

    Craziness! Breaks my heart to pieces.. Thanks for sharing the recipe, I’ll most def have to make this one!

  48. Beautiful post, Joanne. And this bread pudding and salad sound like an amazing meal.

  49. Reeni Pisano says:

    I remember your first marathon – your recount of it made me cry. And also made me wish I was still running. I know you’ll get there again. Loving on the bread pudding! And the salad might be able to turn non-salad lovers into lovers!

  50. Natalie says:

    so well-said! thanks Joanne!

  51. This sounds delicious! I have no connection to Boston personally but my daughter was in the financial district on business just last week. Very scary and so sad. Boston is in everyone’s heart after this sad event.

  52. So well written and I agree completely with everything you said. I’m so inspired by all the runners who say they will keep running no matter what. This salad looks great too, I will keep it in mind the next time I need to impress someone with salad!

  53. Blond Duck says:

    I love that savory bread pudding!

  54. I think a lot of us runner are even more inspired to run Boston now. Maybe I’ll see you at Hopkinton one day :)

  55. Dining Alone says:

    I haven’t felt like doing much of anything since it happened, I just don’t understand it. But, as with everything we must find something to take from it and move on and be stronger for it. I know you will get back to that race one day!

  56. Karis says:

    A beautiful post about Boston. I’m curious about the slightly pickled onions and want to try them soon.

  57. Kari says:

    This is a beautiful post on a horrible topic. I imagine Monday hit people who know Boston harder than those of us who don’t – and even more so for those of you who have actually run the marathon. I wonder how many others will be inspired, as you, to run it again (or for the first time) to stand up to the events this week? It is a powerful message, and I’ll look forward to following you get there.

  58. OohLookBel says:

    I have Ottolenghi’s other books, and now I can’t wait to get Jerusalem, to make this delicious salad.
    Keep on runnin’!

  59. Kelsey says:

    Beautiful post, Joanne. You had me at Ottolenghi (his restaurant in London is on my bucket list). Your words about Boston and our country are so true. We are so much stronger than whoever is responsible for this hateful act. We will get back up and we will show everyone just how strong we are.

  60. Beautiful words, Joanne. My thoughts are with Boston. Horrible, horrible, horrible.

    My friend gave me her copy of Jerusalem when she moved overseas, and said this salad was THE thing I had to make. Well, now I really have to make it!

  61. Debbie says:

    Very well said Joanne and I know that you will most definitely run that marathon again……I take your word on the salad. I will try it sometime soon and it certainly looks delicious!!!!

  62. The idea of running a marathon kind of freaks me out. I have always had the worst stamina when it comes to running, even though I can do other things fine. Regardless, it’s been a very rough week. This looks lovely.

  63. Dixya says:

    such a touching post Joanne, i felt like a personal attack too when all this happened because even though I am not a hard core runner, running is my passion and after running two half marathons, I was and still am very motivated to run – possibly NY or Boston someday. I really hope you will be able to do Boston :) XOXO and I am going to make this salad sometime soon.

  64. Jessie says:

    This is such a beautiful post, Joanne. I look forward to your updates as you prepare for future races, including the Boston marathon. It is a wonderful tribute!

    Great job on this savory bread pudding – light, but delicious, and The.Boy-approved :)

  65. Boston and everyone here loves you back. Beautiful post. And sometimes the recipes with the simplest and fresh ingredients taste the best, especially when you’re looking for comfort.

  66. Audra says:

    You’ll run that race again- I know it <3

    And this combination of savory bread pudding and salad sounds wonderful to me. I always like something fresh next to something more rich on my plate.

  67. Johanna says:

    I’ve never lived in Boston (well, except for a few months prenatally, but that’s another story!) but growing up in New Hampshire, my family visited often for Sox games, shows, and of course the HUGE Disney store I loved so much. I’ve only been there for Marathon Monday once, when my dad ran it two years ago, but what an experience! That city has so much spirit and pride and this act nor anything else will every change that!

    Good luck with your next Boston – you can do it!!!

  68. Ashley Bee says:

    <3 thank you for this post.

  69. Claudia says:

    I’m a sucker for trying new bread pudding recipes, and have my all time favorite sweet version, so this may be the winning savory player. And the salad looks so refreshing, I can’t wait to try it.

  70. The bombings were too awful and I feel for the innocent people who have been affected by them. I love using sumac so this is a great recipe for me to try :)

  71. Michelle says:

    When I heard the news, I wondered if you were running. Still at a loss for words over this–your words are beautiful and heartfelt.

    I’ve marked this salad “to try.” Now I’ve marked the bread pudding too.

  72. Annie Patz says:

    This plate looks SO good! I love savory bread puddings and these pictures are stunning! My heart goes out to Boston, I can’t even imagine…

  73. Even on my side of the world, we were reeling with the news of the events in Boston, and you were the first person I thought of when I heard.

    On a brighter note, your parmesan bread pudding looks fantastic (definitely one to try), and I love that Ottolenghi spinach salad too – I’m addicted to it.

  74. Kim says:

    Joanne – I am so saddened by what happened in Boston. My husband and I were actually in Mexico when it happened we had no idea. One of the locals actually thought the bomb was in Canada. We didn’t find out until we came home. Very disheartening.

    This salad is the first recipe that jumped out at me when I went through Jerusalem. I have a deep and abiding love for dates and I cannot wait to try this recipe. I know it will be a favorite of mine as well.

    Of course that parmesan bread pudding isn’t so bad either :)

  75. Ashley says:

    This looks fantastic! What a gorgeous meal!

    (((Boston)))

  76. I did wonder if you were running or there when I heard the news and was happy you were not. My heart is with all of the victims. So sad and so wrong.

    After seeing both you and Sue make this salad, it is on my “must-make” list now. It sounds wonderful and looks amazing with the savory bread pudding. Thanks for sharing it with Souper Sundays too.

  77. Now that looks like some good bread pudding.

  78. Lynn says:

    Your meal looks lovely. Thank you for your heartfelt thoughts about Boston, and running a marathon. I think like all of us, I was heartbroken and horrified at the events of last week. I think of marathon runners as the best of the best — the most dedicated, hardworking, goal-oriented achievers our nation has to offer. To think of someone deliberately sabotaging what should have been a day of exultation and joy — it makes me truly heartsick. I’m so glad the perpetrators were caught but still feel such sorrow for what happened . . .that should never have happened. May the citizens of Boston be strengthened, may marathoners everywhere never stop running. And best of luck as you make it a goal to get back there again. You will!

  79. Jo,
    That salad has become one of my favorites. I eat Medjool dates in something (yogurt) everyday! I love them. and everything in Jerusalem has been amazing so far. Great book!

  80. Laura says:

    Funny, I became an adventurous eater in Boston also. And also fell in love with the city. Now I won’t lie, I didn’t fall in love with the marathon, but it was the first time I even noticed a marathon. Boston has always been one of my cities, if that makes any sense (and it sounds like it does). Everything last week was just horrifying–I happened to be off the grid that day, and honestly am kind of glad. :(

    Love this meal. The whole shebang. And I am shocked to learn that your BF is a bigger salad fan than you. I would have guessed that you loved salads.

  81. Erika says:

    Wow–lovely post, lovely photos. Great writing.

    This recipe also looks super delicious and I’m excited to see it’s not THAT bad for you! I <3 Ottolenghi. Pinning to make this soon!

  82. […] Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds - AKA the only salad I ever crave. Ever. […]

  83. […] this one every week, at least. It’s the perfect mix of textures and flavors!” – Ottolenghi’s Baby Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds from Joanne Eats Well With […]

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