There is a little cafe in Old City Philadelphia that I absolutely love called Wedge and Fig. It’s essentially a cheese shop converted into a bistro, so they really know how to choose the best cheese for a particular dish. One of my absolute favorite dishes they serve on their brunch menu is a strata “savory layers of egg, Cantal cheese, spinach, shallots and bread.” It’s absolutely fantastic.
This weekend, I kind of had an epiphany: strata is a great make ahead option! I decided to make a batch of my own ahead of a busy week, and then portioned it out into containers to bring into work.
Like Wedge and Fig’s version, I used Cantal cheese, spinach and shallots. Cantal is a farmhouse cheese from France that has a flavor somewhat similar to Cheddar — buttery and tangy. I added in some Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese as well as some sourdough bread to bring a bit more tanginess to the dish.
- 1 (10-oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
- 1 cup finely chopped shallots
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 8 cups cubed sourdough bread (1/2 lb)
- 2 cups grated Cantal cheese
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 9 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- cooking spray
Before making, thaw your spinach completely. Squeeze the spinach to remove as much liquid as possible (a lot of liquid will come out). Set aside.
Grate your cheeses and mix to combine in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, stir together the milk, heavy cream, eggs, and mustard, whisking until combined.
Add the butter to a large saute pan over medium heat. When melted, add in the shallots and cook until translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Add in 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. Cook, stirring for an another minute.
Remove from heat and stir in the spinach.
Cut your bread into bite-sized pieces.
Add 1/2 of the bread cubes to a 3-quart baking dish with at least 2 inch sides.
Top with 1/2 of the spinach mixture, followed by 1/2 of the cheese mixture.
Add the remaining bread cubes, followed by the remaining spinach mixture and then the remaining cheese mixture. Pour the milk/egg mixture evenly over the dish.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight. When ready to cook, preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Bake uncovered until puffed and golden brown, about 1 hour. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
The result is a really flavorful, almost buttery tasting dish. The bread is nice and doughy underneath, with a chewy crust on top. If you like spinach, I’d suggest adding in more than I have in this recipe, it could probably stand to have a bit more.
The strata reheats really well too. I’ve been enjoying it every day this week! I’m going to be so sad when I’m finished it.
Luckily, it’s pretty easy to make! 🙂