A strata, as the name indicates, is a layered dish, in this case composed of French bread, spinach, and two kinds of cheeses. The layers are then covered in a delicious custard that absorbs into the bread overnight, then baked until puffed and golden brown. This is an impressive brunch dish that can be made in advance, making it a perfect and easy choice. Make sure you allow enough time (at least 8 hours) for the strata to rest in the fridge, and bring to room temperature before baking.

Spinach and cheese strata

Author: adapted from Gourmet magazine February 2003

Ingredients

  • 1 10-oz package frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 8 cups French bread in 1 inch cubes
  • 2 cups coarsely grated Gruyère cheese
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 3/4 cups milk
  • 9 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Instructions

  1. Press thawed spinach into a fine mesh sieve, to remove excess liquid, then finely chop the spinach leaves.
  2. In a large pan, saute the onion in butter over medium heat, until soft and translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add spinach, then remove from heat.
  4. Spread one third of bread cubes in a buttered 3-quart shallow ceramic dish and top evenly with one third of spinach mixture. Sprinkle with one third of each cheese. Repeat layering twice (ending with cheeses).
  5. In a large bowl, whisk the milk, eggs, mustard, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and pour evenly over strata.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill for at least 8 hours (for bread to absorb custard).
  7. Preheat oven to 350°F. Let strata stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
  8. Bake strata, uncovered, until puffed and golden brown, about 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

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