Spinach and Four Cheese Strata

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The first time I saw strata was in a little movie called The Family Stone. Sarah Jessica Parker made strata for Christmas Day and ended up spilling it all over the floor. I was still intrigued, though.

 

A strata is basically a savory version of bread pudding – an egg custard is poured over torn bread and various fillings. I’ve made quite a few versions of this. Some with chorizo, some with soyrizo, some with gruyère when I feel like spending $18 on 8oz of cheese. This time I went with a 4 cheese blend (cheddar, cheddar and mo cheddars) and Parmesan with spinach and onions.

This is a great dish to prep ahead of time and pop into the oven when you’re ready. This one sits in the fridge overnight so all that crusty french bread can soak up all that delicious savory egg custard and all the flavors can meld together. When you’re ready to bake, let it sit at room temp for half an hour then throw her in the oven for 45. Voila, magic – looks like you slaved all morning!

The cast: 4 cheese blend, milk, onion, dijon mustard, chili flakes, nutmeg, parmesan cheese, baguette, eggs and spinach.

The cast: 4 cheese blend, milk, onion, dijon mustard, chili flakes, nutmeg, parmesan cheese, baguette, eggs and spinach.

You have to get as much water out of the spinach as you can. Squeeze, and squeeze again. You like my tattoo? Find out more about it here.

You have to get as much water out of the spinach as you can. Squeeze, and squeeze again. You like my tattoo? Find out more about it here.

After sauteing the onions in butter for 5 minutes, add in salt, pepper and nutmeg. Saute an other minute then add in the chopped spinach.

After sauteing the onions in butter for 5 minutes, add in salt, pepper and nutmeg. Saute an other minute then add in the chopped spinach.

Cube up your french or italian bread. I used 1 1/2 baguettes.

Layer times! Layer 1/3 bread, 1/3 spinach mixture / 1/3 of each cheese. Do this two more times.

Layer times! Layer 1/3 bread, 1/3 spinach mixture / 1/3 of each cheese. Do this two more times.

I totally forgot to take pictures of making the custard past cracking the eggs. My bad… but you know how to whisk by now, right? Add in the milk, salt, pepper, dijon mustard and whisk thoroughly.

Pour the custard over the bread mixture, cover tightly with plastic wrap and throw in the fridge overnight. This is what it looks like after 8 hours, with all that custardy deliciousness soaked up.

Pour the custard over the bread mixture, cover tightly with plastic wrap and throw in the fridge overnight. This is what it looks like after 8 hours, with all that custardy deliciousness soaked up.

45 minutes @ 350, then I like to give it a lil extra burnty cheese love and broil it on high for about 5 minutes, or until your burnty cheesy heart desires.

45 minutes @ 350, then I like to give it a lil extra burnty cheese love and broil it on high for about 5 minutes, or until your burnty cheesy heart desires.

Just gooey and soft and eggy and custardy and cheesy on the inside. The nutmeg adds such a warm undertone while the burnt cheese adds a nice contrast in texture. Look at me, sounding like I know what I'm talking about. *fist bump*

Just gooey and soft and eggy and custardy and cheesy on the inside. The nutmeg adds such a warm undertone while the burnt cheese adds a nice contrast in texture. Look at me, sounding like I know what I’m talking about. *fist bump*

One more crunchy cheese shot, because it's gorgeous and I can. #moneyshot

One more crunchy cheese shot, because it’s gorgeous and I can. #moneyshot


 

Spinach and 4 Cheese Strata

adapted from Gourmet
makes 6-8 servings in about 1 hour (+8 hours overnight hangouttimes)
 
Ingredients

1 (10-oz) package frozen spinach, thawed
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (1 large)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes (optional, but I like the little kick it adds)
8 cups cubed (1 inch) French or Italian bread (1 1/2 baguettes for me)
2 cups 4-cheese cheddar blend ( I used a blend with 4 different types of cheddar)
2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 cup)
2 3/4 cups milk
9 large eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
 
Directions
Squeeze handfuls of spinach to remove as much liquid as possible, then finely chop.

Cook onion in butter in a large heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, nutmeg and chili flakes, and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in spinach, then remove from heat.

Spread one third of bread cubes in a buttered 3-quart gratin dish or other shallow ceramic baking dish and top evenly with one third of spinach mixture. Sprinkle with one third of cheese blend and Parmesan cheese. Repeat layering twice (ending with cheeses).

Whisk together milk, eggs, mustard, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl and pour evenly over strata. Chill strata, covered with plastic wrap, at least 8 hours (for bread to absorb custard).

Preheat oven to 350°F. Let strata stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Bake strata, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes.

Optional step: I LOVE BURNT CHEESE EVERYTHING. I like to throw it under the broiler for another 5 minutes, just for extra burnt-yness.

Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Then do what I do and pick off all the best burnt cheese bits before anyone else gets to it.
 
Notes
You can really make this with anything. Add turkey sausage or chorizo, sauteed leftover veggies, gruyere cheese or mozzarella instead of cheddars. Just keep the ratios about the same and you’ll be just fine. You really have to try hard to mess this up.

I know… “frozen spinach, Holly?”. Yeah. It works fine here, but you could just as well use fresh.

If you love burnt cheese like I love burnt cheese, do the extra broiling step. It’s totes worth it.

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3 replies
  1. Andrea Hamilton
    Andrea Hamilton says:

    You never cease to amaze me. 1. The Family Stone is my favorite favorite christmas movie, 2. I came here looking for a good breakfast recipe for this weekend and this couldn’t have been more perfect! Thanks!

    Reply
    • holly
      holly says:

      Woohoo!!! The Family Stone and Love Actually are must-watch movies during the holidays for me! Let me know what fillings you end up using! yay!

      Reply

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  1. […] … this burnty cheesy deliciousness on top. You know how i feel about burnt cheese. […]

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