Hey friends and happy Wednesday!
Boy, have I had an exciting day! I had an acting job and have been shooting all day! From 8am to 5pm baby!
But that won’t prevent me from sharing this OUTRAGEOUSLY delicious recipe!
Here’s the deal: my friends and I love to have brunch. My special gentleman has an incredible apartment and he loves to host, and I love to cook, so it’s a perfect combination!
A few weeks ago, I shared my recipe for an incredible overnight french toast casserole — which was a major hit!
Well, I think this recipe tonight may have outshined even that bright star!
Introducing…my Spinach and Cheese Strata!
Layers of gooey cheese and crusty bread, soaked overnight in a rich and luxurious, savory custard, then baked to perfection!
Not to be a #spoileralert – but the best part was the variety of textures! The top of the bread was nice and crunchy, since it wasn’t soaking fully in the custard overnight, and then the base, that had beautifully absorbed the custard all night was gorgeous chewy and like the most creamy eggs you’ve ever had! SO GOOD!
I chose to make this because half of my friends don’t eat red meat! So this was a fabulous vegetarian option that was the perfect mix of decadence and heartiness for a brunch…THAT LASTED UNTIL 1AM!!!
Hahah – my friends and I…we are champion brunchers, you could say!
One final note: the quality of ingredients really make or break this dish! So get real, shred-yourself, Gruyere cheese, and real (not from the green can), shred-yourself Parmigiano Reggiano. I used bread that I bought at a bakery, but any crusty, Italian bread will do.
Here’s What You Need: (Serves 8-10)
1 load of crusty, Italian bread – about 8 cups
1 pound bag of chopped, frozen spinach, thawed
3 Tbsp butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
6 oz (1-1/2 cups) grated gruyere cheese
2 oz (2/3 cup) finely grated parmigiano reggiano cheese (not from the green can)
9 extra large eggs
2-3/4 cups half and half
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1-3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Optional but HIGHLY recommended:
Cholula Hot Sauce – CHILI GARLIC flavor!!!
Squeeze your thawed spinach over the sink to remove as much liquid as possible. (This is a really important step!)
Melt the butter in a large pan over medium head. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until soft and translucent, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and squeezed spinach and cook for another 2 minutes.
Generously butter a large lasagna pan or casserole dish (9×13). Think of this next part like making a lassagna….Spread 1/3 of the bread cubes in the prepared dish and top with 1/3 of the spinach/onion mixture. (Be sure to break up any chunks and make it as evenly distributed as possible.) Sprinkle with 1/3 of the Gruyere and 1/3 of the Parmigiano Reggiano.
Repeat these layerings twice, ending with the cheese.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the half and half, dijon mustard, salt, pepper and nutmeg, and whisk until well combined. Evenly pour this custard mixture over the entire strata. (It’s okay if all of the bread pieces aren’t fully submerged — this will create a lovely variety of textures.)
Cover the strata in plastic wrap and let it sit for at least 4 hours, or preferably…overnight.
When you’re ready to brunch, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake the strata, uncovered for 70-75 minutes until it’s set and golden brown on top. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.
OK – when I saw this brought the house down, I mean…it brought the house down!
Everyone had seconds…some even had thirds, it was such a hit! The garlic with the cheese and the eggs, it was just the perfect dish for brunch with bloody marys.
And the gentlemen in our group discovered that it was OUTRAGEOUSLY delicious when paired with the Cholula CHILI GARLIC hot sauce! My guy friends are hot sauce efficianados, so after taste testing several varieties, the unanimous winner was the chili garlic Cholula.
But like I mentioned, the textures were what really made this dish something special, because every bite was something different and something special. Some bites had crunchy crouton-like pieces of bread, others had creamy egg custard, other bites were gooey with cheese, while some had a pop of earthy chewiness from the spinach.
It was anything but a boring egg casserole!
So do yourself a favor and MAKE THIS DISH! I promise, promise, promise you’re going to absolutely love it! And if you just have a momentary mental space out and conveniently forget that the recipe calls for 2 3/4 cups of half and half, you can almost convince yourself that its healthy! hahahah
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
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