When winter sets in, we want heavy, soul-satisfying food. The days are shorter, and we may be feeling sluggish, so we don’t want to work too hard in the kitchen. That’s especially true of Sundays, when we don’t have to go anywhere and the day stretches before us unhurried and unpressured.
A strata is just the thing for a lazy winter brunch with friends. It’s gorgeous straight out of the oven, all golden and puffy, a real show-stopper. It’s basically a savory bread pudding. It’s called “strata” because the ingredients are layered like the stratosphere.
The easiest dish in the world to put together, strata is a do-ahead dish. That’s a boon for me as a working mom, the communications writer at Kars4Kids. But the truth is, strata isn’t just something you do ahead if you choose; it’s actually preferable to prepare the strata ahead of time before the final cooking, so that the bread can soak up all the delicious custard mixture.
In addition to all these glorious attributes, strata is also a flexible dish. Here, I’ve used spinach, onions, and Gruyère cheese with a generous portion of Dijon mustard to enhance the flavor of the custard mixture. But you can add sautéed mushrooms, or go Tex-Mex by substituting corn, sliced black olives, and jalapeno peppers for the spinach and onion mixture and switching out some sharp cheddar for the gruyere. Add some julienned sun-dried tomato strips and a liberal dusting of chili powder and you’re good to go.
Sky’s The Limit
You can use whatever ingredients you have on hand. The main thing is good bread, eggs, milk, and cheese. Everything else is up to you—the sky’s the limit. Let the strata steep overnight in the fridge in a pretty oven-to-table casserole dish, take it out while you’re making coffee (no cheating with instant) and a pitcher of Bloody Mary’s or Mimosas, and then pop the strata into the oven for 45-60 minutes.
Be prepared for oohs and ahhs. And yes, they’re going to want the recipe. Whether you’re willing to share is another question.
Here is my recipe for the Best Spinach Strata.