spinach and cheese strata

Eid Mubarak friends! I hope you had a wonderful day, full of food, laughs, and naps. I’m grateful to have such great friends to celebrate Eid with when I’m not able to visit my own family. Yet, I still can’t stop thinking about them. So I thought I’d share with you one of my childhood memories.

A distinct Eid al Adha memory for me is going to a slaughterhouse with my father. It’s a bit strange, I know. I decided to go with him out of curiosity and while I never witnessed anything that would traumatize me, I do still remember my brother telling me he could see fear in the animal’s eyes as the men were preparing to slaughter it. It was a weird feeling. I distinctly remember after visiting that slaughterhouse that an animal really had to die, a life had to be taken, so that I could enjoy dinner. Despite this strange episode, I’m grateful for it. I am forced to think of the sacrifice that was made for my own sustenance.

I realize that this isn’t your average American childhood experience anymore. Though there once was a time not too long ago when most children were able to witness animals being slaughtered. But it is clear we have all moved far away from that reality. Meat has become a convenient portion wrapped in styrofoam and plastic. Before I bore you to death or turn you vegetarian, I’ll suggest a great read that looks at our relationship (as collective humans) with animals: Hunters, Herders, and Hamburgers by Richard Bulliet

And now, on a less carnivorous note (minus the nine(!) eggs that went into this) here’s what I made for the wonderful Eid brunch we went to:

Spinach and Cheese Strata
Adapted from SmittenKitchen

Serves 6 to 8

1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed, squeeze off all excess liquid
1 large onion finely chopped
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp cinnamon
8 cups cubed French or Italian bread in 1-inch cubes
2 cups coarsely grated Gruyere
1 cup finely granted Parmesan
2 ¾ cups milk
9 large eggs
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard

1. Using a large heavy skillet over medium heat, melt butter and saute onions until soft, about 5 minutes
2. Add ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, allspice and cinnamon, continue cooking for one minute
3. Stir in spinach, remove from heat and set aside.
4. Spread one third of the bread cubes in a well-buttered 3-quart oven proof dish. Top with ⅓ of the bread cubes, ⅓ of spinach mixture and ⅓ of cheese. Repeat layering twice with remaining bread, spinach and cheese.
5. whisk eggs together, mix in milk, mustard and remaining ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper in a large bowl and pour evenly over strata
6. Cover with plastic wrap and chill strata for at least 8 hours or up to one day.
7. The next day, let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes while preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Bake strata, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through 50-60 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe notes: I was looking for an alternative brunch egg dish. I usually serve this AMAZING quiche, but I needed some back-ups. This was pretty solid, however I would change a few things next time. It ended up being too deep making the top layer amazing but the bottom layers seriously soggy. Next time I’ll go with two layers of bread, spinach, cheese and spread it out into a 9×13 pan. I would also try different cheeses, as delicious as Gruyere is, it just didn’t shine in this recipe. I imagine a stronger, sharper cheese would be better, maybe feta, or an extra sharp cheddar. Finally, the recipe suggested Dijon mustard, but the wine in Dijon makes me nervous so I went with whole grain mustard.

3 thoughts on “spinach and cheese strata

  1. Richard Bulliet also wrote detective novels! But I didn’t know about this book. I’ve been inching back to my old vegetarianism. May not make it back, but recipes like this light the way.

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