Monday, December 5, 2011

Simple Strata

Have you ever made a strata? Do you know what a strata is? If not, then you seriously need to try this recipe! A strata is sort of like a savory bread pudding. The word strata literally means "layers", so the elements of the casserole are layered in the baking dish and then baked until bubbly and yummy. What's not to love? And it's super convenient because you can make it the night before and then just pop it in the oven first thing in the morning. It's the perfect dish for a holiday morning, or any morning where you might like to have an extra special breakfast or brunch. Everyone will think you went to a lot of trouble but it's really very simple! (Hence the name!)
I hope you'll give it a try!

1 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 lb button mushrooms, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
 12 eggs
4 cups milk
salt and pepper
1 loaf Italian bread, cut into cubes
12 oz shredded Swiss cheese

Add a little oil or butter to a saute pan and saute the onions, mushrooms, and spinach until soft.  In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs together with the milk and S&P.
Grease a 9x13 baking dish with butter or nonstick spray.
 Now it's time to assemble.
Place half of the bread cubes in the casserole dish in an even layer, then half of the spinach mixture, then half of the cheese.
Repeat with the other half of each ingredient except the cheese.
Pour the egg mixture over everything, taking time to let everything sink in as you pour. Press down any pieces of bread that are not immersed. Cover with foil.
If you're making it ahead, place in the fridge overnight, or until you're ready to bake. Remove from the fridge about 15 minutes before you place it in the oven.
Bake at 350F for 45 minutes. Remove foil. Top with the other half of the cheese. Bake for 15 minutes longer.

If you're really pressed for time, no one will condemn you if you just toss the bread cubes, spinach mixture, and cheese in a big bowl and then dump it into the casserole dish instead of taking the time to make layers. It'll still be delish!
If you've made it the night before, turn the oven on when you take the casserole out of fridge. Then the oven will be nicely preheated by the time you're ready to bake!
If Swiss cheese, mushrooms and spinach are not your favorite things, then change it up however you like! Asparagus, broccoli, cheddar cheese, diced ham, sauteed sausage or bacon, diced red bell peppers... all good! There's really no right or wrong. You can basically use any kind of omelette ingredients and it will work perfectly!

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