I love eggs. Oeufs. If beans are the magical fruit, eggs are the magical dairy. They go with every meal, in any form or method of cooking. They can be savory, they can be sweet. They can add creaminess, body or density to a dish. They are probably the most versatile and fulfilling ingredient or food I have in my refrigerator. And I have eggs in my fridge all the time – it’s one thing I am never out of.
When I’ve had a long day, or a long week, and it’s time to feed myself I often turn to eggs for dinner and make some form of a savory egg dish. Breakfast for dinner! It’s my favorite kind of dinner actually.
So when, awhile ago now, I had a quickly going stale half-loaf of brioche from the Penn Quarter Farmers’ Market I had to act fast. Eggs + bread = strata and/or bread pudding in my mind. A quick search on Epicurious brought up a very easy spinach and Gruyère strata recipe that seemed pretty good.
A coffee shop in DC, Tryst for you local folks, serves a frittata where the eggs are almost custard-like. It is divine, and I’ve always wondered how they got that consistency. Well, now I know. A lot of milk. Because when I finally tasted my strata, the eggs were so soft, smooth and had a delicate custard-like texture about them. For what you think would be a very dense, heavy dish actually ended up being incredibly light and filling in a pleasant way.
My only complaint about the dish isn’t even a complaint – I live alone and this made servings for 5 or 6 people! I was eating strata for days, which in the end isn’t that bad I suppose. If you have an army to feed, or are responsible for an egg dish at your next brunch potluck, this strata is perfect!
So, what’s your favorite thing to do with eggs?
Recipe after the jump, enjoy!
Brioche Spinach Gruyere Strata
Adapted from Gourmet February 2003
- 1 bag/bunch fresh Spinach
- 1 large, finely chopped onion or 8 finely chopped shallots
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 8 cups cubed brioche
- 2 cups grated Gruyère (3 cups if not using Parm Reg)
- 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)
- 2 3/4 cups milk
- 9 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
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 cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add spinach and cover the pan for five minutes until wilted, then remove from heat.
Spread one third of bread cubes in a buttered 3-quart gratin dish or other shallow ceramic baking dish and top evenly with one third of spinach mixture. Sprinkle with one third of each cheese. Repeat layering twice (ending with cheese).
Whisk together milk, eggs, mustard, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl and pour evenly over strata. Chill strata, covered with plastic wrap, for an hour. Now, the original recipe calls for an 8 hour chill-out session in the fridge which you can certainly do if you have the foresight to set this recipe up before you leave for work or the night before. I didn’t…and it certainly didn’t hurt things one bit.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Let strata stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
Bake strata, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand and cool 5 minutes before serving.
Scoop heaping spoonfuls of cheesy strata onto plates and serve with a light side salad!