I made this for Christmas brunch two years ago when Mark and I were up in Santa Maria, at his mom's. It's an easy dish. I made it the night before and then on Christmas morning just popped it in the oven. Mark's mother and brother loved it.
A "strata" seems to be a sort of savory bread pudding sort of deal. But let's not kid ourselves with the fancy name. It's really just a caserole. It comes from little Sarah Moulton. It was featured in an episode in which she showed how to cook meals for people who ate meat as well as for vegetarians. This recipe has sausage in it and on the show she created a little aluminum foil wall down the center of the casserole dish. One side was for meat eaters and the other for those who have a problem with killing animals but for some reason with eat their eggs. Well I happen to eat meat, so there's meat in the ENTIRE thing. But you could leave the meat out I suppose, if that's your thing.
1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (1 large)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 cups cubed (1 inch) French or Italian bread (1/2 pound)
2 cups coarsely grated Gruyere (about 6 ounces)
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 2 ounces)
1 cup cooked breakfast sausage, ham, or shredded meat (optional)
2 3/4 cups milk
9 large eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Squeeze handfuls of spinach to remove as much liquid as possible, then finely chop.
Cook onion in butter in a large heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in spinach, then remove from heat.
In a large bowl, toss together the bread cubes, spinach mixture, 1 3/4 cups of the Gruyere, and 3/4 cup of the Parmigiano. Transfer 1/2 of the bread mixture to another bowl and toss with sausage.
Whisk together milk, eggs, mustard, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl and pour evenly over each side. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Gruyere, and 1/4 cup Parmigiano. Let the strata sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Bake strata, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.