I relish in a good weekend brunch but sometimes the struggle to find a reservation, battle the weather, or even worse… wait an hour, makes hunkering down to a comfy, conversation-friendly meal at home way more appealing.
Strata is a layered casserole, usually including eggs, cheese and bread. Although it requires a little planning ahead, it’s an easy crowd-pleaser. Prepared ahead of time and baked in the oven, it requires no fussy juggling between entertaining and cooking. You literally prep it the day before, let it sit overnight, and throw it in the oven an hour before your guests arrive.
The recipe below is adapted from Gourmet (RIP). My version is a little healthier using WAY less cheese (and low-fat), whole wheat bread, 1% milk instead of whole, and as many organic ingredients as possible. It was still delicious although you definitely taste the tang of the whole wheat. If you don’t love whole wheat’s sour nature, you may want to go 50/50 (white/whole wheat) but I enjoyed the contrast against all the dairy. Of course, you can go to the original recipe for the full-fat version.
And yes some of you may remember strata making quite a scene in a 2005 holiday movie. Any guesses?
Spinach and Cheese Whole Wheat Strata
Serves 6 to 8
1 (10 ounce) package organic frozen spinach, thawed, squeeze of all excess liquid, and chopped
1 1/2 cups finely chopped organic onion (1 large)
Less than 1T just for prepping baking pan
Salt & pepper (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 cups cubed organic whole wheat baguette in 1-inch cubes (1/2 lb)
1 to 1.5 cups shredded organic low-fat chedder or Gruyere (3-4 oz)
1/2 c finely grated parmesan
2 3/4 cups organic 1 % milk
9 large organic eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1. Sauté onion in butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add nutmeg and continue cooking for one minute. Stir in spinach, remove from heat and set aside. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
2. Spread one third of the bread cubes in a well-buttered 3-quart gratin dish or other ceramic baking dish. Tip: When you finish a stick of butter, save the wrapper to grease pans. Or you can always lightly dip a paper towel in softened butter to prep a pan. You can also spray lightly with canola oil. Top with one-third of bread cubes,one-third of spinach mixture and one-third of each cheese. Repeat layering twice with remaining bread, spinach and cheese.
3. Whisk eggs, milk, mustard and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in a large bowl and pour evenly over strata. Cover with plastic wrap and chill strata for eat least 8 hours or up to a day.
4. The next day, let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes while preheating the oven to 350°F. Bake strata, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Yummers!!! Don’t forget the hot sauce!
1 cup of each organic berry (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries)
Juice from 1/2 to 1 orange
2T chiffonade of mint
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. If berries aren’t sweet, drizzle 1 T maple syrup (only if needed). Bring to room temperature before serving.