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Breakfast Strata with Spinach and Gruyère

October 16, 2012

Strata is one of those amazing foods that somehow I only end up making about once a year. One of my absolute favorites, but it requires a bit more planning ahead that the usual breakfast food and an hour of baking time in the morning (not to mention it’s quite rich and heavy), so it’s best for a special occasion. In the past I’ve always brought along the ingredients to make it on the last day of the youth group winter weekend retreat, but sadly there was no retreat this past year. Using any occasion for an excuse, Boss’s Day seemed like a good enough reason. My manager is actually out of town this week, so my coworkers and I shared the strata this morning and all she got was a picture, haha!

The reduced wine, Gruyère cheese, and shallots give this breakfast dish a slightly more sophisticated flavor than the typical combination of pork products (bacon, sausage, ham) with eggs and American or cheddar cheese (although strata made with sausage and cheddar is also excellent). I prefer savory breakfast foods to sweet ones, and I love complex combinations of flavors, so you can imagine that this would easily make it into my top ten list. :)

This recipe, from the ATK Family Baking Book, has been my standby strata recipe for several years. While it initially looks like a lot of steps that will take a long time, you can get the bread in the oven right away to start drying out, prep the rest of the ingredients, and do everything but the final assembly during that 30-40 minutes. Weighting the strata down before baking is an important step that you don’t want to skip; it helps to eliminate dry pockets in the bread. The recipe can easily be doubled to feed a large group: assemble in a 13-by-9-inch pan and increase the baking time to 60-70 minutes.

Breakfast strata with spinach and gruyere

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • ½  loaf French or Italian bread (about 8 ounces), sliced ½-inch thick
  • 4  tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4  shallots, minced
  • 1  (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2  cup dry white wine
  • 6  ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded (1½ cups)
  • 6  large eggs
  • 1¾  cups half-and-half

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 225 degrees F. Arrange the bread on a baking sheet and bake until thoroughly dry and crisp, about 30 to 40 minutes, flipping the pieces over halfway through baking.
  2. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in spinach, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper and cook until the spinach is heated through, about 2 minutes. Transfer the spinach mixture to a small bowl. Add the wine to the skillet and simmer over medium-high heat until it measures ¼ cup, about 3 minutes. Set reduced wine aside to cool.
  3. Grease an 8-inch square glass baking dish. Using 2 tablespoons of the butter, spread butter on one side of each slice of bread. Arrange half the bread, butter side up, in a single layer in the dish. Sprinkle with half the spinach mixture and ½ cup of Gruyère. Repeat to form a second layer with the remaining bread, spinach, and ½ cup mire Gruyère.
  4. Whisk the eggs, reduced wine, half-and-half, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper together until smooth. Pour evenly over the layers in the baking dish, then cover the surface with plastic wrap. Weigh the strata down with a large ziplock bag full of sugar (or if you have a second 8-inch glass dish, that works too) and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
  5. When ready to bake, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 325 degrees F. Meanwhile, let the strata stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Remove the weight and plastic wrap and sprinkle the top with the remaining ½ cup Gruyère. Bake until the edges and the center are puffed and the edges have pulled away slightly from the sides of the dish, 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

5 comments

  1. Looks so good and yummy!


    • Thank you! Let me know how you like it if you give it a try! :)


  2. This looks so good!


    • Thank you so much! It is so delicious. :) This was the first time I was able to get an appetizing picture of it – the last time I made it the color wasn’t as even on the top and so I couldn’t get the picture to come out very attractive, haha!


      • I know, I take about 100 pictures of every post I make hoping that I can get a few really good ones out of all that!



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