As I mentioned in my Mother’s Day post, I made brunch for my mom this year. I really wanted to do something nice, but am so not a morning person and knew that if I left stuff for the morning of, it would result in a really cranky brunch. I started out with the idea of doing a savory bread pudding. Then I was inspired by The Family Stone and found some strata recipes. Have you seen the movie? It’s one of those movies where it’s so awkward and uncomfortable that I have to watch the entire movie or else I have this weird gnawing feeling in my stomach all day. Anyway, what does the movie have to do with strata? Long story short, the girlfriend that’s trying to impress the family makes a strata and the entire things ends up all over her.
Luckily my strata stayed squarely in its dish (an early wedding present!) and only ended up inside our tummies. This stuff was good–even though I randomly forgot to add the Parmesan. It’s most definitely not an everyday breakfast, with all the milky, cheesy, buttery goodness. But for a special brunch? It’s perfect. This is also one of those recipes that you can can switch up with whatever veggies or cheeses that you prefer. I have to say, I often find grueyre pretty overwhelming, but it’s great in this dish. I do wish I had added the Parmesan in each layer instead of just over the top, but I’ve remedied that by just sprinkling some on each serving I’ve eaten. I mean, not much can go wrong with extra cheese!
Spinach and Cheese Strata
from smitten kitchen
1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed, squeeze of all excess liquid, and chopped
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (1 large)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 cups cubed French or Italian bread in 1-inch cubes (1/2 lb)
6 ounces coarsely grated Gruyère (2 cups)
2 ounces finely grated parmesan (1 cup)
2 3/4 cups milk
9 large eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Saute the onion in the butter in a skillet over medium heat until soft. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and the nutmeg. Add the spinach, warm through, and set aside.
Spread 1/3 of the bread in the bottom of a well buttered 3 quart casserole dish. Add 1/3 of the spinach mixture and then 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat twice with the rest of the bread, spinach mixture and cheese. Whisk together eggs, milk, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Pour it evenly over the strata. Oh, a little note here, this is a LOT of liquid. Don’t make my mistake and not use an adequately large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 1 day.
The next day take out the strata. Let it stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes while you heat the oven at 350°F. Bake uncovered until golden brown, puffed up and it is cooked all the way through, about 45-55 minutes. Let it rest for about 5 minutes before serving.