Breakfast Strata with Greens, Gruyere, and Sausage

from Eggs on Sunday

Adapted from Gourmet, February 2003

The original recipe uses frozen spinach, which you can certainly do to cut prep time. I’ve also used a big bunch of dark, leafy greens, like collards, swiss chard or kale. If you do use frozen spinach, make sure you squeeze it dry after it’s thawed, before adding it to the pan with the onion. The strata is equally good with or without the sausage.

This is a great recipe to prep the night before, then just bake it in the morning. Perfect for holidays or for entertaining.

Ingredients

1 large bunch of dark leafy greens (such as collards, chard, or kale), OR one (10-oz) 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 (I usually use a 1-lb loaf, as I’ve found this yields 8 cups)
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage (optional)
6 oz coarsely grated Gruyère (2 cups)
2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 cup)
2 3/4 cups milk
9 large eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (sometimes I use whole-grain mustard for a variation)

Directions

Wash and finely chop the greens (if you’re using frozen spinach, squeeze handfuls of it dry and then finely chop.)

Cook the onion in the butter in a large saucepan until it begins to soften. Add the sausage, if using, and cook until the sausage is no longer pink. Add 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper and the ground nutmeg, and cook 1 minute. Add the greens and cook until they’re wilted and tender (if you’re using frozen spinach, this will only take about 1 minute; if you’re using another kind of dark leafy green, it will take a little longer.) Remove from the heat.

Butter a 3-qt gratin dish or other large ceramic baking dish. Spread 1/3 of the bread cubes in the bottom of the dish, top with 1/3 of the spinach mixture, then with 1/3 of both of the cheeses. Repeat the layering 2 more times, ending with the cheeses.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, mustard, and the remaining 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Pour evenly over the strata and cover with foil or plastic wrap. Chill overnight in the refrigerator, or at least 8 hours.

The next morning, let the strata stand at room temperature to take the chill off a bit, about 30 minutes. You can do this while you’re preheating the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake the strata, uncovered, in the middle of a 350 degree F oven for 45-55 minutes, until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through. Let it stand 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 6-8 servings.