Until I met this strata, I hated them, too. Have to admit, I’m not really a french toast person, either. Something about a hatred of wet bread that I inherited from my dad. But this one changed it all.
You MUST start with excellent bread. I feel that is the essential key. I started with a gorgeous ciabatta ( just from Meijer’s, so not really expensive). You could use brioche with the same excellent results. This recipe is really so fantastic, and the more veggies you put in it, the better it gets. Oh, and of course, there’s lots of cheese in there:)
I do apologize, the smell and seductiveness of the cooked strata was so compelling that I never got a pic of the finished dish….it disappeared in minutes, with people lined up for second helpings.
- 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1½ cups onion, finely chopped
- 2 (10 oz.) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained
- 1 pound of cleaned and chopped asparagus
- 1/2 pound cleaned and quartered portobella mushrooms
- 1 tsp. salt, divided
- ½ tsp. pepper, divided
- Dash freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 Tbsp. prepared Dijon mustard
- 8 cups cubed French or Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 6 oz. coarsely grated Gruyere or Gouda (about 2 cups)
- 6 oz. fresh goat cheese (chevre)
- 2 oz. finely grated Parmesan (about 2/3 cup)
- 9 large eggs
- 2¾ cup milk
Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions to the pan and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped mushrooms and cook down until soft and liquid has mostly boiled off. Add ½ teaspoon of the salt, ¼ teaspoon of the pepper, and the nutmeg, and continue to cook for 1 minute more. Stir in the spinach, remove from the heat and set aside.
Blanch asparagus in boiling water for 2 min, drain and stir into the spinach-onion mix. Allow to cool.
Butter the inside of a 2½-3 quart baking dish. Layer the bottom of the dish with one third of the bread cubes. Top with one third of the spinach-asparagus mixture and one third of each of the cheeses. Repeat these layers twice more with the bread, spinach and cheese.
In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, milk, the remaining ½ teaspoon of the salt, ¼ teaspoon of the pepper, and 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard. Whisk together until blended. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread and spinach layers in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 8 hours or up to 1 day.
Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Bake uncovered until puffed, golden brown and cooked through, 45-55 minutes. Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.
It is to-die-for. Completely. Even if it is a strata.