Parmesan & Bacon Strata with Spinach

IMG_4890This is my very favourite Strata.  To be honest I’ve never been a fan of Stratas in general. Ones I’ve had in the past tend to have too much cheese, too much sausage, and left me feeling overfull.  To fix this, I thought it best to figure out the right ratio of bread, egg, & milk.  Once that was figured out, I started to build it up with just enough ingredients to give it a full flavour.  I’m happy to serve this for any breakfast / brunch event, and it disappears quickly.

The bread, egg, & milk ratio (1# bread to 3 cups milk and 10 eggs) can be accented with either savoury or sweet ingredients; just use your imagination.  For instance, add some vanilla and maple syrup to the egg mixture, and tuck in some thin apple slices and pieces of cream cheese.  This will give you a lovely, French toast type Strata.  Be inventive!

Click here for printable version.

Serves 12

Ingredients

5 or 6 pieces of bacon

1# loaf of Italian bread – I use Calabrese

2T oil

1 box frozen chopped spinach (300 gr/10 oz), thawed

1 onion

2 garlic cloves

½ t salt

¼ t pepper

3 cups whole milk

10 large eggs

½ t salt

¼ t pepper

¼ t nutmeg

5 oz grated Parmesan

Directions

Starting the day before baking:

Cook the bacon until just crispy.  IMG_4865

Drain & cool on paper towels.

Chop the bacon.IMG_4873

Cut the bread, crust on, into ½” cubes.  If the loaf is unsliced, it is easiest to slice it first, and then cube the slices.IMG_4876

Chop the onion into ¼” pieces

Mince the garlic.

Squeeze out the moisture from the spinach – easy tip, use a ricer.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Sauté the onions and garlic over medium heat until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Reduce heat if they start to brown.

Add in the spinach, salt & pepper.  Stir to combine thoroughly.IMG_4869

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly until there are no traces of separate white or yolk.

IMG_4878

IMG_4879

Add in the milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Whisk to combine.

Lightly grease a large 4-quart baking dish (I use a 10” x 14” x 3”)

Spread half the bread cubes as your base layer.IMG_4870

Sprinkle half the spinach mixture evenly over the bread cubes.IMG_4872

Evenly distribute half of the cheese over the spinach mixture.

Scatter all of the bacon over the spinach layer.

Repeat the first three layers (the bacon is only in one layer), finishing with the cheese.IMG_4877

Gently pour the milk & egg mixture evenly over the whole of it.IMG_4880

Cover the dish well with plastic wrap, and store in the fridge overnight.

The next day about an hour before serving, preheat the oven to 350°

Bake the strata at 350° for 40 minutes until a sharp knife testing the center comes away clean. You don’t want to over bake it, as creaminess is essential to a good bread pudding, which is essentially what you’re making.IMG_4884

Let sit stand for 10 minutes or so before serving.

Upscale it:  use Pancetta instead of bacon, and arugula instead of spinach.IMG_4895

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