Last winter, when I had invited several friends over for brunch, I wanted to serve something that could be prepared ahead so I would have as much time as possible to spend with my guests. A strata–a layered, bread pudding-like dish made with bread and eggs–seemed like the perfect solution.
If you’ve got guests coming over for New Year’s Day–or just want to be able to enjoy as much time as possible with your family–I recommend making this dish. You can prepare it ahead of time (make it today for tomorrow’s brunch, for example) and keep it covered airtight in the refrigerator, then bake it on the morning of the event. Make sure to remove it from the refrigerator about an hour before baking to bring it to room temperature.
When I was planning my brunch, I couldn’t find a recipe for exactly what I wanted to make, so I blended two different recipes to create this one.
Butternut Squash and Spinach Breakfast Bake
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1½ cups whole milk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
12 cups cubed assorted stale bread
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
½ red onion, chopped and sautéed
6 ounces spinach, sautéed/steamed in sherry, drained and chopped
3 cups cubed butternut squash, roasted
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk eggs. Add milk, stock and Dijon mustard, and stir until combined. Place bread cubes in a large bowl and pour the egg mixture over the bread. Let it soak for 15-20 minutes.
Then blend in the shredded cheese, onion, spinach, butternut squash, salt, pepper, and chives. Pour the mixture into a greased 9-inch-by-13-inch pan.
Cover and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, uncover, and use a ladle or ice cream scoop to make 8-10 cuplike depressions in the top of the bread. (Each cup should be about the size of an egg.) Crack an egg into each depression/cup, then season the eggs with a little more salt and pepper.
Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 20-30 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked to your preferred doneness. At 20 minutes, the yolks are still soft or medium; at 30 minutes, the eggs are close to hard.
Tina’s Tip: When adding the eggs to the top of the strata, I pre-crack them into 10 individual bowls to make sure no egg shells make their way into the strata.