Spinach and Cheese Strata

I’ve mentioned before that my in-laws tend to host fabulous brunches for us nearly every time we come for a visit.  I won’t say no to that!  The food is always amazing and, bonus, it gives me the opportunity to bring something as well.  Normally I tend to lean toward something on the sweeter side (muffins, scones, etc.) but last time I decided to try this strata.  This is basically a savory bread pudding, and a tasty one at that.  With spinach, onion, Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses, this was sure to be delicious.  Needless to say, this was very well received.

It is incredibly convenient in that all the prep work is done the night before, and in the morning all you have to do is bake and serve.  I thought the overall flavors of the dish were great, but there are a couple of changes I will make next time.  First, I will double the amount of spinach.  If an ingredient makes it into the title of a recipe, you should get more than the occasional bite of it.  Plus, spinach is tastes good, and is good for us.  Also, I will omit the mustard called for in the original recipe.  I found it unnecessary, and it seemed to overpower a lot of the other flavors.  I’ve included these changes in the version below.  Enjoy!

Spinach and Cheese Strata
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3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1½ cups onion, finely chopped
2 (10 oz.) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 tsp. salt, divided
½ tsp. pepper, divided
Dash freshly grated nutmeg
8 cups cubed French or Italian bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
6 oz. coarsely grated Gruyere (about 2 cups)
2 oz. finely grated Parmesan (about 2/3 cup)
9 large eggs
2¾ cup milk

Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions to the pan and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add ½ teaspoon of the salt, ¼ teaspoon of the pepper, and the nutmeg, and continue to cook for 1 minute more.  Stir in the spinach, remove from the heat and set aside.

Butter the inside of a 2½-3 quart baking dish.  Layer the bottom of the dish with one third of the bread cubes.  Top with one third of the spinach mixture and one third of each of the cheeses.  Repeat these layers twice more with the bread, spinach and cheese.

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, milk, the remaining ½ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper.  Whisk together until blended.  Pour the mixture evenly over the bread and spinach layered in the baking dish.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 8 hours or up to 1 day.

Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.  Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Bake uncovered until puffed, golden brown and cooked through, 45-55 minutes.  Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.

Source: adapted from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Gourmet, February 2003

37 Responses

  1. I’ve never had a strata before – this one looks great! I love spinach and gruyere.

  2. Mmm… this looks delicious! I am always looking for something new to make for Saturday morning breakfast and this is perfect! I wonder how a bit of broccoli would be in it too? I heart broccoli

    • Niki,
      I’m sure broccoli would be great! You would probably want to parboil it or something to be sure it would be the right texture, but I think it would be an excellent addition.

  3. Spinach? Cheese? Bread? I’m sold!

  4. Bet the brunches your in-laws host are fabulous! I love broccoli and will certainly be trying this! It looks delicious! Yum!

  5. this looks incredible!! i’m going to make it for the next holiday!!

  6. My kids will definitely love this meal! Look yummy.

  7. this looks great! and i love that i can make it the night before then pop it in the oven!

  8. Boy, am I hungry after reading this! I wonder if the bread could be replaced with something a bit healthier … Red potatoes, perhaps? Regardless, I’ll definitely be trying out this recipe sometime in the near future!

    • Katie,
      I’m not sure that would work quite the same. The bread is porous and soaks up the egg/milk mixture. The potatoes would not have the same effect. And potatoes aren’t that much healthier than bread really, being that they are full of carbs too.

  9. I love egg stratas! They are the best. Also, love breakfast recipes that can be made the night before..super easy. I bet sausage would be super tasty in this as well.

  10. Cooks Illustrated has a spinach Gruyere strata in The New Best Recipe, so I was sure you were talking about that recipe before I looked at yours. I actually think this one looks better than theirs – their recipe uses half-and-half, so it’s too rich for me.

  11. Why won’t my kids eat this? I have one that doesn’t eat cheese and one that won’t eat spinach! NO FAIR!

  12. Just stumbled upon foodblogs and meatless mondays… this recipe looks wonderful! I am going to try this one!!! Thanks!

  13. Looks delicious and great that it can be prepared ahead of time. Thanks for posting!

  14. sweet moses- that looks good!

  15. This looks delicious! I always see recipes for stratas and have been tempted to make one. Seeing it on your blog, I might just have to make one now!

  16. I literally caught my breath when your post came up on my reader. How beautiful! How homey and comforting and delicious. 🙂

  17. Mmmm gorgeous! I love hearty, savory breakfasts!

  18. This sounds delicious, and I love utilizing spinach in breakfast recipes!

  19. I’ve made this recipe a couple times…discovered it years ago on epicurious and it’s always been a hit at brunches. But I do the exact things you do – double the spinach because there’s nowhere near enough (actually, I think I’ve tripled it) and omit the mustard because I’m not a huge fan. It’s amazing.

  20. This looks AMAZING! Drool…

  21. Wow! I’ve been intending to make a strata for a while. This may be the visual incentive I needed!

  22. That is a phenomenal looking strata and I will definitely be making this soon.

  23. I agree with everyone, this looks so fantastic for breakfast, and you can’t beat something you get to prep the night before. My husband and I always do a huge brunch on Easter, even if it’s just the two of us, and this could be a great part of this year’s feast!

  24. Hi Annie,

    I love your blog!!!! Have you ever made this and then frozen leftovers? How do you think that would turn out? Would it work to warm up in the oven? I’m guessing the bread would get mushy if one tried to microwave it. Also, do you think it could be made as individual sizes like in ramekins or muffin cups? Please let me know your thoughts, when you can.

    Peklet Mom

    • Hello,
      I’ve only made this recipe once so far, so I haven’t tried any of the adaptations you mentioned. I’m sure you could freeze it. Remember, this is a bread pudding so the bread is supposed to be mushy – freezing won’t change that. And yes, I’m sure individual sizes would be fine too.

  25. Yum! I bet the fam went crazy over this!! Stratas are such a good way to clean out the fridge too 🙂

  26. I made this last night and baked this morning. It was fabulous! Used smoked gruyere. It was very easy and quick to throw together and will be a staple on our breakfast menu. Thanks!

  27. I’ve only ever had strata once before, but have been thinking about making another one. Spinach and cheese looks good. I don’t get the mustard part either. I think I would also try adding mushrooms, just because I love them in pretty much everything.

  28. i made this for my husband on our anniversary morning 🙂 it was heavenly! i used an italian cheese blend and ciabatta bread. thanks for all of your fabulous recipes!

  29. Officially on my Fathers Day menu….thanks for posting this!

  30. I have made this Strata from Smitten Kitchen’s blog. It is amazingly good, but thanks for the tip on upping the amount of spinach. I am a huge mustard fan and used whole grain french, from Dijon. I didn’t think it took away from this dish at all. But, the real star is the gruyere cheese, it’s fabulous.

    And for the person who asked about freezing extras. I have, it heats up nicely in the oven, wrapped in foil. I just wouldn’t serve it to guests after I froze it, but that’s just me.

  31. Thanks for sharing! I made this for a breakfast meeting and everyone raved.

  32. made just half of this recipe and had spinach from my local farmers market. next time, i’ll make the whole thing! soooo good!!

  33. I made this for a brunch with my 4 of girlfriends it was perfect. The best part was when it was done it not only tastes great it looked exactly like the picture.. Gourgeous!

  34. I made this for a friendly brunch this morning, and it was PERFECT. I really appreciated being able to prep it last night after the little one was in bed (I’ve recently come to notice that one year olds are amazingly enthusiastic in the kitchen, and not yet aware of kitchen safety), and then just pop it in and bake so it was ready when people came over. I loved it, loved the spinach and eggy bready goodness. Thanks!

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