March 29, 2012

Spinach and Artichoke Strata

Over Christmas, I was finally introduced to the wonders of strata.  There is a new bakery by my parent's house and we had a surplus of bread laying around as well as extra bacon from the butcher behind our house (spoiled, I know).  The bread was going stale so I made some french toast and a big pan of strata!  Basically a strata is like a savory bread pudding, with layers of bread, veggies, and cheese topped with a savory egg custard.  A new french bakery opened in my neighborhood, so I decided to grab a baguette and give it another go!

Because strata is a great way to use up leftovers, I stuck with that theme while constructing mine.  I had two lonely slices of bacon, opened packages of frozen artichoke hearts and spinach, half a container of sliced cremini mushrooms, and asiago cheese leftover from an attempt to stuff a deboned chicken thigh.  All beautiful ingredients that needed a home, and the deliciously fresh french bread was the perfect palette!

A custard of egg and milk is poured over the layers and allowed to mellow in the fridge over night.  This is the step is what makes this a perfect brunch dish!  I let it come to room temperature, while the oven was heating up, and baked it off in about 30 minutes.  Cheesy and eggy with crispy bacon on top?  This one is a winner!

Spinach and Artichoke Strata
2 slices of thick cut bacon
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
~5 oz sliced cremini mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic, minced
~5 oz frozen artichoke hearts, chunked
~3 oz frozen spinach
zest of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 baguette
~6 oz of grated asiago (food processor works best)
6 eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper

First, cook up the bacon to render the fat over medium heat.  Let it go until it is crispy, remove from pan, and pat dry with a paper towel.

Add the onions and saute over medium high heat.  Once they are browning, add the mushrooms and let cook until they have browned as well.  Add the minced garlic and season with salt and pepper.

Add in the spinach and artichoke and allow the flavors to meld by sauteing for 3-5 minutes.  Turn off the heat, season with salt and pepper, and add the lemon zest and nutmeg.  Allow the veggie mixture to cool to room temperature.

While the veggies are cooling, cut up the baguette into bite sized pieces.  Prepare the egg custard by whisking the eggs in with the milk and seasoning with salt and pepper.

Begin to assemble your strata in a greased pan with a layer of bread, followed by half the cooled veggie mixture, and then half of the cheese.  I used a loaf pan because I appreciate puns in all aspects of my life.

Repeat with the second layer and top with crumbled up bacon.  Then pour the egg mixture over the top of the pan.

Cover the strata with plastic wrap.  I then rigged up a second loaf pan on top with cans of beans to weight the strata and insure that all of the custard is incorporated into the bread.

Refrigerate overnight.  Bring to room temperature while the over is preheating to 350 F.  Bake uncovered until the top is brown and the custard is set.  Let sit 10 minutes before serving and enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. My dear,

    You had me at Asiago and savory custard! This is comfort food at its very best!


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