As I mentioned in December, in my “New Year’s Brunch Strata” post (which included a recipe for Butternut Squash and Spinach Breakfast Bake), making a strata for a gathering with friends or families is a good way to let chefs enjoy their guests instead of being stuck in the kitchen.
Most mothers want to spend time with you as much as they would enjoy a special meal or lavish gifts, so making strata will let you prepare the meal ahead of time and spend time with Mom. (And if you’re the one being celebrated this Mother’s Day, but your kids are too young to make this for you themselves, prepping the strata on Saturday will let you feel pampered on Sunday.)
To make the recipe I posted in December more seasonally appropriate for spring and summer, I made a few alterations—using asparagus, prosciutto and goat cheese, for example.
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1½ cups whole milk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
12 cups cubed assorted stale bread
8 ounces crumbled goat cheese
½ red onion, chopped and sautéed
3 cups sliced asparagus (snap off the woody ends and slice remaining stalks into 1-inch pieces)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme (optional)
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
8 ounces prosciutto, sliced and chopped
Preheat oven to 350° 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 goat cheese, onion, asparagus, salt, pepper, thyme (if using) and half of the green onion slices. Pour the mixture into a greased 9-inch-by-13-inch pan. Top with chopped prosciutto and remaining green onions.
Tina’s Tip: To serve this dish to non-meat eaters, I recommend substituting smoked salmon for the prosciutto. You could just leave out the meat altogether, but smoked salmon adds a nice flavor. Fold some into the egg-and-bread mixture, and save some to sprinkle on top.
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.