6ozasparaguscut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces, 180 g
6ozcremini or white button mushroomssliced, 180 g
1tspchopped fresh thyme leaves
8ozday-old baguette or country breadcut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes, 250 g
freshly grated Parmesan cheeseoptional
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Grease a 1½-qt (1.5-L) ceramic baking dish with butter or cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, chives, basil, lemon zest, nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Set aside.
Select Sauté on the Instant Pot® and heat the oil. Add the asparagus, mushrooms, thyme, and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until the asparagus stems are bright green and the mushrooms begin to turn golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Press Cancel to reset the program.
Arrange one-third of the bread cubes in a single layer in the prepared baking dish. Layer half of the vegetable mixture on top. Place another third of the bread cubes in another layer on top, followed by the remaining vegetable mixture. Layer the remaining bread cubes on top and pour the egg mixture over all, pressing down gently so that the bread absorbs the liquid. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
Pour the water into the Instant Pot® and place the baking dish on the steam rack. Using the handles, lower the dish and steam rack into the pot. Lock the lid in place and turn the valve to Sealing. Press the Pressure Cook button and set the cook time for 30 minutes at high pressure.
Let the steam release naturally for 15 minutes, then turn the valve to Venting to quick-release any residual steam. Carefully remove the lid and, using the steam rack handles, lift out the dish. Transfer to a cooling rack, remove the foil, and let cool slightly. Cut into wedges and serve.
BONUS STEP After removing it from the pot, sprinkle the savory French toast with Parmesan cheese and bake in a preheated 400°F (200°C) oven until golden brown, 8–10 minutes.