I LOVE THIS DISH!!!
A strata is an Italian savory bread pudding. Sort of a baked omelette. There is a milky creamy Eggy mix that combines with dry day old bread cubes to form a custard when cooked. Add a variety of savory ingredients (in this case, onions and spinach but potatoes and corn, rice and chicken, Green Beans and Bacon all work as well).
So, you get the idea that this is a left over dish? Indeed so. This is such an unexpected way to use up whatever is in your fridge. If you have bread, eggs and milk, I would bet you have the makings of a Strata you can call your own!!!
Take a close look at the photos to the left. About the only tricky part is shown in the top photo. When it comes time to bake, you want a soup stew like consistency. Not too wet, but not too dry either. If you need to add liquid, just drizzle an extra cup of milk and an egg mixture on top. If it is too soupy, you can always use a big spoon to skim off some of the wet.
Once you do your first Strata, you will get a better feel for how much liquid. BTW, better a little too much than too little. The eggs will set even if too much, and you will end up with a mix of bread pudding and baked scrambled eggs.
Ideally, as shown in the close ups, the eggy mix mixes into the bread and leaves this rich thick custard, making picking out the bread cubes almost impossible.
Like I said, one of my favorite meals, uses up leftovers, tastes delicious and when you add the tomatoes (don't skip that), beautiful as well!
Red Onion, Spinach, Cheesy STRATA with Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes
- 4 Cups Bread Cubes... Day Old, Slightly Toasted DRIED OUT
- 2 TBS Butter
- 2 Large Red Onions, sliced thin, rings separated
- Sprinkle of Sugar
- Large pinches each of Salt and Pepper
- 6 Ounces Spinach, washed
- 8 Large Eggs
- 2-3 Cups Half and Half
- 2 TBS Whole Grain Mustard
- 2 tsp Dried Italian Herbs (I used Oregano and Thyme)
- 2 Cups Grated Gruyere Cheese (divided, 1-3/4 Cups and 1/4 Cup)
- For the Sauteed Cheery Tomatoes
- 2 TBS Butter
- 1 Pint Cheery Tomatoes, each cut into quarters
- Pinch each Salt and Pepper
- Pinch Dried Chives
- The bread needs to be dry. Cube and leave out uncovered overnight or if needed, spread out on a baking sheet and toast in a preheated oven (300 degrees) for 10 minutes, flip and toast for another 10 minutes on the other side.
- While the bread is toasting, Add the Butter to a large saute pan. Melt over medium high heat. Add the Onions, toss to coat in the butter and sprinkle sugar over the onions. Season with salt and pepper. Stirring every 5 minutes, cook the onions until caramelized, turning brown... About 30 minutes.
- Add the spinach and saute for another 5 minutes until the spinach has cooked. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- By now the bread has just started to toast. Remove from oven and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- While the onions are caramelizing and bread is toasting, in a large bowl, Whisk the eggs. Add the Half and Half and whisk again to mix. Add 1-3/4 Cups Cheese, Mustard and spices and whisk everything together.
- In a prepared large Baking Dish (non-stick spray), Spread the toasted bread cubes out. Add the Onion/Spinach mix, spreading evenly. Now pour the Cheesy milky liquid on top slowly. The mix should be a bit soupy. Use the back of a large spoon to push the bread under the liquid so everything is coated. DO NOT mix too much or the bread will break down to crumbs.
- Allow this to sit for 5 minutes, allowing that dried bread to absorb the milky eggy mix deep inside.
- One more time, gently push any bread into the mix and bake uncovered until the egg mix has baked... About 1 hour.
- During the last 10 minutes, sprinkle the remaining grated cheese over the top. When done, remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- FOR THE SAUTEED TOMATOES...
- While the Strata is resting, melt 2 TBS Butter in a saute pan over medium high heat.
- Add the tomatoes and toss to coat.
- Add the salt and pepper and continue to toss as the tomatoes start to cook down and soften... About 3-4 minutes
- Add the Chives and toss to coat.
- SLice the Strata into squares, plate and top with a couple spoonfuls of the tomatoes.
- Serve HOT and ENJOY!!!