Prep 30 mins
Cook 3 hrs
I adapted this recipe from Cook's Illustrated. It sounds healthier than the other breakfast stratas with sausage and bacon (you don't have to tell anyone the truth!). It is so delicious, I had several requests for the recipe at a brunch before Christmas. Enjoy!
- 14 ounces French bread, sliced 1/2-inch thick
- 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 8 medium shallots, minced
- 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
- 20 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 12 ounces havarti cheese, sliced thin or 12 ounces grated gruyere cheese
- 12 large eggs
- 2 1⁄2 cups half-and-half
- ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Arrange bread slices in a single layer on 2 large baking sheets and bake until dry and crisp, about 40 minutes, turning slices over halfway through drying time. (Alternatively, leave slices out overnight to dry.) When cooled, butter slices on one side using 4 tablespoons of butter; set aside. (Note: I used Smart Balance® with just a thin coating on each slice).
- Heat 3 1/2 tablespoons butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Sauté shallots and mushrooms until shallots become fragrant and translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Add spinach to skillet. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach and shallots are combined, about 3 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl; set aside.
- Add wine to skillet, increase heat to medium-high, and simmer until reduced to 1/2 cup, 3 to 4 minutes; set aside.
- Butter a 9x13-inch baking dish with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter.
- Arrange half the buttered bread slices, buttered-side up, in single layer in dish. Spread half of spinach mixture, then lay half of the cheese evenly over bread slices. Arrange remaining bread slices in single layer over cheese; spread remaining spinach mixture and the remaining cheese evenly over bread.
- Whisk eggs in medium bowl until combined; whisk in reduced wine, half-and-half, 2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread layers; cover surface flush with plastic wrap, weigh down (see note, below), and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
- Remove dish from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature 20 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Uncover strata and bake until both edges and center are puffed and edges have pulled away slightly from sides of dish, 60 to 65 minutes (or about 50 to 55 minutes for halved recipe). Cool on wire rack 5 minutes; serve.
- NOTE: By weighing down the strata, all of the bread is able to soak in the custard. To weigh down the assembled strata, two 1-pound boxes of brown or powdered sugar, laid side by side over the plastic-covered surface, make ideal weights. A gallon-sized zipper-lock bag filled with about 2 pounds of sugar or rice also works. This recipe halves easily; use one 8x8-inch baking dish greased with only 1 tablespoon butter and reduce the baking time as directed in step 8.
- A word about substituting fat-free half-and-half: The second time I made this recipe, I used fat-free half-and-half. The strata was soggy, not like the original recipe, even though I baked it longer. I think the custard needed more fat from the half-and-half in order to set properly.
- If you try this with fresh spinach, cook it first, squeeze it dry, then use it in place of frozen.
Oh wow! This is absolutely the best strata ever! It bakes up nice and tall in a 9x13 pan and the flavor is at the same time sophisticated, savory, creamy, and out of the world delicious. It's easy to make and it going in the "good enough for company" cookbook.
This recipe was awesome! I make several stratas for a big Christmas morning breakfast and this was by far one of the best tasting I've ever made. It's a keeper!
I got this from Cook's Illustrated also and it's a great recipe. I made it for Christmas breakfast and it was a hit. Don't skip toasting the bread as that's an important part of this recipe. This recipe can be halved and baked in an 8 inch square pan. It seems a bit more work than other stratas but it's worth it.