Spinach & Cheese Strata – Once Upon a Chef

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Spinach, cheese, and bread baked in a savory, Dijon-flavored custard, this make-ahead strata is ideal for entertaining.

A strata is a layered casserole made with bread, eggs, cheese, and sometimes filled with vegetables or meat (strata means layers). Think of it as a savory bread pudding. This spinach version is richly flavored with Gruyère, Parmesan, and Dijon mustard. It’s the perfect vegetarian brunch dish to feed a crowd. You do all of the preparation the night before, let the strata rest in the fridge overnight to soak up the eggy custard, then pop it in the oven in the morning. As it bakes, it puffs up like a soufflé, making it a real showstopper. It does fall a bit as it cools, but it’s still  very impressive. Serve the strata with crispy bacon, a strawberry & orange fruit salad, and mimosas.

What You’ll need to make Spinach & Cheese Strata

ingredients for spinach and cheese strata

Before we get started, a few words about the ingredients. It’s important to use good quality cheese. The recipe calls for a combination of Gruyère and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, but since they are both expensive, feel free to substitute other good melting cheeses with bold flavor, like extra-sharp cheddar. The recipe is pretty flexible, so you can play around with different sautéed vegetables depending on what you have on hand. Some cooked sausage or pancetta would be a nice addition; just be sure to reduce the salt in the recipe to a scant teaspoon or the strata will be way too salty.

Be sure to squeeze all of the water out of the spinach. Take your time; it’s important to get it all out or the strata will be watery.

Step-by-step Instructions

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.

melting butter in skillet

Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

sautéed onions in skillet

Add the spinach and garlic and cook a few minutes more.

cooking the spinach and garlic with the onions

Layer a third of the cubed bread in a buttered 3-quart or 9×13-inch baking dish.

Top with a third of the spinach.

layering spinach mixture in baking dish

Followed by a third of each cheese.

layering cheese in baking dish

Repeat layering twice, ending with the cheese.

strata layers in baking dish

Make the custard by combining the whisked eggs, half-and-half-Dijon mustard salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Whisk evenly to combine.

whisked custard mixture

Pour evenly over top of the strata, then cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.

soaked strata ready to bake

Bake for about 70 to 80 minutes, until puffed, set and golden all over.

Note: My starting point for this recipe was this popular strata originally published in Gourmet magazine. I increased the spinach; amped up the flavor by adding garlic and increasing the salt; swapped the milk for half-and-half; and reduced the baking temperature from 350°F to 325°F for a creamier texture.

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Spinach & Cheese Strata

Spinach, cheese, and bread baked in a savory, Dijon-flavored custard, this make-ahead strata is ideal for entertaining.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound bag chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed as dry as possible
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 12 ounces (¾ pound) Italian sandwich bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 11 slices or 8 cups)
  • 6 ounces (1½ cups) coarsely grated Gruyère
  • 2 ounces (⅔ cup) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 9 large eggs
  • 2¾ cups half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1¾ teaspoons salt
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and drained spinach and cook 2 minutes more. Set aside.
  2. Butter a 3-quart or 9×13-inch baking dish. Spread one third of the bread cubes in the dish and top evenly with one third of spinach mixture. (Try to break it up as much as possible so there are no huge clumps of spinach.) Sprinkle with one third of each cheese. Repeat layering twice, ending with cheeses.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the half-and-half, mustard, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and whisk until well combined. Pour the custard mixture evenly over the strata. Cover the strata with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 325°F. Bake the strata, uncovered, until puffed, set and golden brown all over top, 70-80 minutes. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes before serving. It will settle a bit as it cools.
  5. Note: The cook time is based on the strata going immediately from the fridge to the oven. If it sits out at room temperature before baking, the cook time will be about 10 minutes less.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (8 servings)
  • Calories: 483
  • Fat: 30g
  • Saturated fat: 16g
  • Carbohydrates: 30g
  • Sugar: 4g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Protein: 25g
  • Sodium: 1117mg
  • Cholesterol: 280mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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