America’s Test Kitchen: Spinach stars in special brunch dish
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America’s Test Kitchen: Spinach stars in special brunch dish

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    This image provided by America’s Test Kitchen shows the cover for the cookbook “Vegetables Illustrated.” It includes a recipe for Breakfast Strata.

Whether your Mother’s Day celebration is planned for breakfast, brunch or lunch, this hearty egg dish will befit the special day. It could even make the transition to a dinner buffet.

Ideally, a savory make-ahead bread pudding should be rich enough to satisfy without being overindulgent. Unfortunately, too many recipes for strata are soggy and laden with excessive custard and filling ingredients.

Looking to create our casserole, we first considered the bread. Whole, dried bread slices had the best texture and appearance, and buttering them added richness.

Spinach, shallot and Gruyere complemented each other perfectly for the filling, and we sauteed the vegetables to remove excess moisture and prevent the casserole from becoming waterlogged.

Weighting down the assembled strata overnight improved its texture; we found that two 1-pound boxes of brown or confectioners’ sugar, laid side by side over the plastic wrap, made ideal weights.

It takes more than two hours to make this dish, but you could let it sit overnight and bake the strata just before Mom gets up on Sunday.

BREAKFAST STRATA WITH SPINACH AND GRUYERE

By America’s Test Kitchen

  • 8-10 (1/2-inch-thick) slices French or Italian bread
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, divided
  • 4 shallots, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 6 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded (1-1/2 cups), divided
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1-3/4 cups half-and-half

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 225 degrees. Arrange bread in single layer on rimmed baking sheet and bake until dry and crisp, about 40 minutes, flipping slices halfway through baking. Let bread cool slightly, then spread 2 tablespoons butter evenly over 1 side of slices.

Meanwhile, melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium. Add shallots and pinch salt; cook until softened, about 3 minutes.

Stir in spinach and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes; transfer to bowl.

Add wine to now-empty skillet and simmer over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 3 minutes; set aside to cool.

Grease 8-inch-square baking dish. Arrange half of bread slices, buttered side up, in single layer in dish. Sprinkle half of spinach mixture and 1/2 cup Gruyere over top. Repeat with remaining bread, remaining spinach mixture and 1/2 cup Gruyere to make second layer.

Whisk eggs, reduced wine, half-and-half, 1 teaspoon salt and pinch pepper together in bowl, then pour evenly over top of bread and cheese in dish. Cover dish tightly with plastic wrap, pressing it flush to surface. Weight down strata and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.

Let strata sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Unwrap and top with remaining 1/2 cup Gruyere. Bake until edges and center are puffed and edges have pulled away slightly from sides of dish, 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Serves 4 to 6.

>> Notes: To double this recipe, use a 13-by-9-inch baking dish; increase the baking time to an hour and 20 minutes. Substitute any semisoft melting cheese, such as Havarti, sharp cheddar or colby for the Gruyere.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 547 calories, 31 g total fat, 17 g saturated fat, 292 mg cholesterol, 930 mg sodium, 40 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 8 g sugar, 24 g protein.

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