One thing I love about egg dishes is they can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – kind of a one-size-fits-all meal of the food world. (Even though one size does NOT fit all in the clothing world!)
This SPINACH-CHEESE STRATA is very fast to prepare…even faster if you take a couple of shortcuts: 1) buy frozen spinach and, 2) buy bread (rather than making it). I’m a little paranoid about the cleanliness of frozen spinach, since I know how dirty fresh can be, so I buy fresh. Also, I like to bake my own bread and often have extra in the freezer. But that’s just me.
Bonus: it’s a make ahead dish – always a plus for me. That way, I can prepare it in the morning (or even the night before), leaving explicit instructions with my husband. Explicit!
SPINACH-CHEESE STRATA – makes about 6 servings
- about 11 1/2″ slices of day old French bread (or less if it’s a fat loaf)
- 2 T butter + more for spreading on bread
- 2 bunches fresh spinach (or 12 oz frozen cut spinach)
- 1/4 cup shallots, minced
- 1/2 tsp + 1/8 tsp black pepper, divided
- 1 tsp + 1/4 tsp salt, divided
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1½ cups (3½ oz) Gruyère cheese, shredded
- 6 eggs
- 1¾ cup half & half
The bread should be stale. If you plan ahead you can leave slices on a wire rack overnight. If you didn’t have time to do that, simply bake in the oven at 225º Fahrenheit for about 40 minutes, flipping halfway through. (Don’t toast them – it’s not the same thing!)
Butter one side of all the stale bread slices.If you’re using fresh spinach, thoroughly wash, dry, and coarsely chop. If you’re using frozen, thaw.
Melt the 2 T butter in a Dutch oven (if using frozen spinach, then use a skillet). Add shallots and sauté 3 minutes to soften. Add in spinach, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and 1 tsp salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring until spinach is wilted – about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.In the now empty pan, pour in the white wine. Cook over medium/high to reduce it to 1/4 cup. This happens fairly quickly so keep an eye on it. Remove from heat.
Butter an 8″ x 8″ pan (I use Pyrex). Cover bottom with buttered bread (butter side up). Spread on half of the spinach. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the cheese. Add another layer of bread, the remaining spinach, and 1/2 cup cheese. In a bowl or large measuring cup for easy pouring, whisk the eggs, half & half, reduced wine, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp black pepper. Pour on top of spinach/bread/cheese. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto food. Weigh it down with whatever will fit. (I use another 8″ x 8″ pan weighted with bowls). Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
To bake, remove plastic wrap. Sprinkle on remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake at 325º F for 50-55 minutes, until starting to brown (I bake for 50 minutes). Remove from oven and let set about 15 minutes before serving.