It took me a few attempts, but I finally made the strata of my dreams. Recipe tester Alexandra Taylor said, “Even my spinach hating son ate a piece and gave it a thumbs-up.” In case you aren’t familiar with it, strata is an Italian baked egg and bread dish. This is a great dish to serve at a brunch, especially because you can make it in advance, but it also makes a wonderful treat for a healthy family dinner. Serve it with hash browns and honeydew melon.
Light and Fluffy Spinach and Cheese Strata
Prep (15 min.) + Cook (50 min.) + time to chill
8 servings, 1 ½ squares each
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach
6 slices ciabatta bread, about 1/2-inch thick, or use any day old bread (about 4 cups)
1 ½ cups nonfat or low fat milk
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1 tsp. herbes de Provence, or use dried thyme or other Italian herbs
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. salt
Defrost the spinach (I put it in a saucepan without any added liquid and steam it over medium heat, covered, until it is thawed, about 5 minutes). Meanwhile, cut the bread into cubes and spray a 9 x 13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and the milk. Whisk in the cheeses, herbs, garlic powder, and salt. Stir in the spinach and bread cubes until the bread is completely moistened.
Pour the egg mixture into the baking dish, smoothing it with the back of a spoon, if necessary. Refrigerate it, covered, for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
When you are ready to bake it, remove the strata from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake it in the center of the preheated oven for 45 – 50 minutes until it is browned on the edges and cooked through in the center. (While it bakes, prepare the hash browns and the honeydew.) Cut it into squares to serve it.
Do Ahead or Delegate: Defrost the spinach, cube the bread, shred the cheese, if necessary, combine the eggs and the milk (and refrigerate). Or just make the whole strata and refrigerate it.
Scramble Flavor Booster: Double the salt and add 1/8 tsp. black pepper. Add ½ – 1 cup diced ham or sausage.
Tip: Eggs, which have only 70 calories each but dish up a generous 6 grams of protein are, on average, 25 cents a serving! As in this strata, you can incorporate this nutrient rich, affordable ingredient into meals other than breakfast.
Side Dish suggestion: To make hash browns, cut 2 – 3 russet potatoes into 3/4-inch cubes. Boil or microwave them until they are slightly softened, 5-7 minutes, and drain them. (Alternatively, you can grate the potatoes and cook them with the onions, flipping occasionally). Meanwhile, in a heavy skillet over medium heat, sauté 1 small diced yellow onion in 2 Tbsp. olive oil or butter until the onions are translucent, and just starting to brown, 5 – 7 minutes. Add the potatoes and sauté for 5-7 more minutes, until they are browned. Season with 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/8 – 1/4 tsp. black pepper and 1/8 tsp. garlic powder, or to taste. Serve them hot with salsa or ketchup, or topped with shredded Cheddar cheese, if desired.
Side Dish suggestion: Serve it with 1 honeydew melon (or use cantaloupe), peeled and diced. If the melon needs extra flavor, sprinkle it with 1 – 2 tsp. superfine sugar and the juice of 1/4 lemon or lime.
Nutritional Information per serving (% based upon daily values):
Calories 287, Total Fat 12.5g, 19.5%, Saturated Fat 7g, 34%, Cholesterol 187mg, 12%, Sodium 544mg, 23%, Total Carbohydrate 25g, 8% Dietary Fiber 1g, 3% Sugar 3g, Protein 18g
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