What’s the best aspect of brunch? Is it eating at the dining table in your half-pajamas? The gracious glass of tart mimosa or spicy Bloody Mary pregnant with pickles? The Sunday Times unpacked all over the floor, trailing after you for the rest of the day? Is it the interplay of sweet and savory, breakfast and lunch items getting incestuous together on the plate? Brunch is a celebration. Because you survived Saturday night and lived to tell a few tales. Because it’s the weekend’s turning point. Because it’s Chanukah or Mother’s Day or the morning after a spectacularly boozy wedding. No matter what kind of morning you’re having, I assure you this dish will be super easy and pleasing to all.
A strata is a casserole – or savory bread pudding – layered with bread, eggs, and cheese. You can include a meat, such as ham or sausage, or keep it vegetarian, as I have done here. I had to agree with Malcolm that bacon would have been splendid in this one. You can easily prep everything early the day before you want to make it, store each component in separate containers, and put it all together before going to bed. It will nicely follow yesterday’s asparagus soup.
- 10 oz frozen spinach, thawed in cheesecloth and squeezed until dry
- 1 leek, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 8 cups of hearty bread or bagels, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 6 oz Gruyere, grated
- 2 oz Parmesan, grated
- 9 eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- Nutmeg, salt and black pepper
In a large skillet, saute the leeks in butter over medium heat until soft, about five to eight minutes. Whisk together eggs, milk, and mustard, season with salt and pepper. In a buttered casserole dish arrange the bread. Lay leeks atop the spinach on top of the bread and then sprinkle with cheese. Pour in the egg mixture and grate nutmeg over the entire dish. Cover and pop in the fridge for at least eight hours before cooking. Remove from the fridge while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake uncovered for 45-55 minutes, until golden brown and puffy.