April 10, 2019 10:41:58 AM
Earthy spinach and nutty cheese star in this brunch-worthy strata. (Strata is a family of layered casserole dishes.)
Ideally, this savory make-ahead bread pudding should be rich enough to satisfy without being overindulgent. And, since strata is such a great make-ahead dish, it should also be straightforward to put together. Unfortunately, too many recipes for strata are soggy and laden with excessive custard and filling ingredients.
Looking to create a go-to breakfast or brunch casserole, we first considered the bread. Whole dried bread slices had the best texture and appearance, and buttering them added richness. Spinach, shallot, and Gruyere complemented each other perfectly for the filling, and we sauteed the vegetables to remove excess moisture and prevent the casserole from becoming waterlogged.
Weighting down the assembled strata overnight improved its texture; we found that two 1 pound boxes of brown or confectioners' sugar, laid side by side over the plastic wrap, made ideal weights.
One hour is minimum, but you could do it overnight to bake the strata the following morning. The recipe can be doubled and assembled in a greased 13-by 9-inch baking dish; increase the baking time to 1 hour and 20 minutes. Substitute any semisoft melting cheese, such as Havarti, sharp cheddar, or Colby for the Gruyere.
BREAKFAST STRATA WITH SPINACH AND GRUYERE
Start to finish: 2 hours 15 minutes (plus 1 hour refrigeration time)
8-10 (1/2 inch-thick) slices French or Italian bread
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 shallots, minced
Salt and pepper
10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
6 large eggs
1 3/4 cups half-and-half
Nutrition information per serving: 547 calories; 276 calories from fat; 31 g fat (17 g saturated; 1 g trans fats); 292 mg cholesterol; 930 mg sodium; 40 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 8 g sugar; 24 g protein.