Breakfast Strata with Spinach and
by Kathleen McBride
Cheesy and light, this breakfast strata elevates the breakfast casserole to a whole new level. It is great for a winter brunch paired with fruit salad, coffee and mimosas. And you can get most of the ingredients from the vendors at the Old Town Farmer’s Market. Although it requires advanced preparation, one bite and you’ll know it is worth the planning and effort.
8-10 1/2 inch thick slices white bread – crusts removed
5 TBSP unsalted butter softened
4 medium shallots, minced
1 10-oz package frozen chopped spinach – thawed and squeezed dry
Salt and peeper
½ cup medium dry white wine, such as Sauvignon blanc
6 oz. Gruyere Cheese – grated – any salty hard cheese will do such as cheddar or swiss
6 large eggs
1 ¾ cups half-and-half
Nutmeg to tasteDirections
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 225 degrees. Arrange the bread in a single layer on a large baking sheet and bake until dry and crisp, about 40 minutes, turning the slices over halfway through the drying time. (or leave slices out overnight to dry).
When the bread has cooled, butter the slices on one side with 2 TBSP butter; set aside.
Heat 2 TBSP butter in a medium non stick skillet over medium heat. Saute shallots until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add spinach, salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Cook for 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Add wine to the skillet, increase to medium-high and simmer until reduced to ¼ cup.
Butter an 8-inch square baking dish with the remaining TBSP of butter. Arrange half the bread slices butter side up in a single layer. Sprinkle half of spinach mixture then ½ cup grated cheese evenly over bread slices. Arrange the remaining bread slices, spinach and cheese.
Whisk eggs, wine, half-and-half, salt and pepper. Pour mixture over bread, cover with plastic, weigh down and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.
To weigh down the assembled strata, two 1-pound boxes of brown or powdered sugar, laid side by side over the plastic-covered surface, make ideal weights. A gallon-sized zipper-lock bag filled with about 2 pounds of sugar or rice also works.
Remove dish from fridge, let stand at room temp for 20 minutes. Heat oven to 325. Uncover strata, sprinkle remaining cheese. Bake until center is puffed up 50-55 degrees. Cool for 5 minutes and serve. This recipe doubles easily; use a 9 by 13-inch baking dish greased with only 1 1/2 tablespoons butter and increase the baking time to 80-90 minutes.