Recipe of the Week - Spinach and Cheese Strata

Spinach and Cheese Strata you like breakfast? (Of course you do.) Well then, friend, let me introduce you to a recipe that will change your life.

One word: strata.

I make this when we have family in town or when I host friend-get-togethers or when it's a Tuesday and I want it.

Stratas are awesome. You make them ahead of time. They are totally customizable based on what you like. You can throw in whatever extra stuff you have in your frig. Well, as long as you have eggs. You need eggs. And lots of them.

I sort of follow this recipe (Thank you, Smitten Kitchen!):

1 bag of fresh spinach (Frozen spinach also works, but just be sure to thaw it and drain out the excess water.) 1 large onion, chopped fine 3 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 teaspoon salt, divided. 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided. 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

8 cups (a large loaf) French or Italian bread, cubed - Use whatever you have. Dense breads are great!

2 cups of grated cheese - Gruyere is awesome, but I almost never have that in my frig. I always have some sort of cheddar-blend, so I typically use that. 1 cup of finely grated Parmesan - I also like to add feta. Sometimes I adjust the other cheese amounts. Sometimes I just throw caution to the wind and dump lots of extra cheese in the bowl. No one ever complains about extra cheese.

2 3/4 cups milk - skim, whole, buttermilk, a combination, whatever... 9 large eggs 2 tablespoons mustard - I've used yellow or Dijon.

Sauté the onion in butter for about 3-5 minutes. Carefully add the fresh spinach and let it cook down. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and nutmeg and continue cooking for another minute.

Spread half of the bread cubes in a buttered casserole dish. Add some of the spinach mixture. Add some of the cheese mixture. Continue layering bread, spinach, cheese.

Whisk eggs, milk, mustard and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in a large bowl and pour evenly over strata.

Cover the casserole dish and stick it in your frig overnight (or at least 8 hours).

The next day, let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes while preheating the oven to 350°F. Bake strata, uncovered 45-60 minutes. (Mine always takes 60 minutes.) It will get all puffy and golden brown. Stick a knife in the middle and make sure that the eggs are set and fully cooked.

Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Variations: Add veggies. Chopped zucchini, yellow zucchini, peppers, broccoli, whatever. When I add vegetables, I saute them with the onions.

Add meat. Sausage is my favorite. Just brown it until it's crumbly and add the sautéd onions. You can do bacon, too. Cook it, crumble it, throw it in there. Have some chopped ham? That'll work, too.

Try different breads. There's a local bakery here that makes a spinach and mozzarella bread. It is delicious in this! Also, feel free to clean out your bread drawer. Use whatever combination of breads you have laying around. Thicker cut bread seems to get fluffier, but thin-cut bread still tastes delicious. Sourdough, rye, Wonder Bread - anything will work!

Recipe inspired by: