Wow...1 month since my last update! I'm super awesome, I tell ya.
I made this strata for the Mother's Day Brunch we hosted two months ago. It was one of my favorite dishes to prepare because it was so simple to prepare and serve, and it was really delicious, too! This was a definite favorite from the brunch. And to top it off, you make it the night before and pop it in the oven an hour before you want to serve it. Translation: You can host brunch and still sleep in. Yes! You can!
Spinach & Cheese Strata
(adapted from Annie's Eats)
3 T. unsalted butter
1 onion, finely diced
2 10 oz. packages of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp. pepper, divided
Dash ground nutmeg
8 c. French bread, cut into roughly one-inch cubes
2 c. grated Gruyere, 6-8 oz.
2/3 c. grated parmesan cheese
9 large eggs
2 3/4 c. milk (I used 2%, worked fine)
Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions to the pan and saute until soft and fragrent. Season with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper, a dash of nutmeg, and cook 1-2 minutes more. Stir in spinach. Mix well, remove from heat, and set aside for a few minutes.
Divide the bread cubes into 3 groups of roughly the same size. Do the same with your spinach mixture and your cheeses.
Grease the interior of a 3-qt. baking dish (I used my dutch oven). Layer the bottom of the dish with 1/3 of the bread cubes. Top with 1/3 of the spinach mixture. Top with 1/3 of the Gruyere and 1/3 of the parmesan cheese. Repeat layers twice more with bread, spinach mixture, and cheeses.
In a large bowl, mix together eggs, milk and remaining tsps. of salt and pepper. Whisk together until well blended. Pour over bread and cheese mixture, distributing evenly, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Chill at least 8 hours in fridge, overnight if possible.
Remove from oven 30 minutes before baking. Heat oven to 350 F. Bake uncovered until golden brown and cooked through, 50-60 minutes. Top with extra baby spinach leaves, if desired. Let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.
- You can use fresh spinach. I think I'm remembering throwing some fresh spinach leaves in the mix the evening before I served this. But, you'll probably use a minimum of 2 bunches of spinach, if not more. Frozen spinach is the way to go.
- The Gruyere adds a nice nutty taste to the strata, and the parmesan pairs with it nicely. It's a little on the expensive side, but the good news is that it's only sold in 4-8 oz. blocks, and that's really all you need.
- The original recipe calls for 6 oz. I bought an 8 oz. brick and used the whole thing.
- Cooking this for a minimum of 50 minutes will really bring out the golden brown tones in the bread. You want this golden brown and puffy--if it's not, then you need to cook it 10 minutes more.