Got a loaf of bread lazing around? How about some cheese, a few good eggs, and maybe some sausage and spinach? Then, my friends, you have the makings for a fabulous and easy brunch. It takes just minutes to make this Spinach Sausage and Cheese Strata. Think Mother’s Day brunch.
I’m pretty sure that in the old days this stuff was called bread pudding instead of strata. Who knew that bread could be so useful? Not me. In our house, when I was a kid, fancy bread meant soggy French Toast or just toast.
It wasn’t until years later when we were on our own and lucky enough to live next door to an elderly English woman who baked us bread pudding 80 different ways that we learned that bread was not made just for peanut butter and jelly or toast. Each of those puddings proved that it had a much grander purpose than just as a vehicle for containing mayonnaise and tuna fish.
Even gluten-free bread tastes better this way. And leftover homemade gluten-free bread really tastes good made this way.
We like this strata with quick challah leftovers and since you don’t need a whole loaf for the recipe, you could bake it in advance, eat some warm slices and then save some for this recipe. That’s called a win-win when it comes to good bread eats.
You can fool around with the ingredients. Use bacon instead of sausage (but do crumble it up). Use another leafy green (please don’t tell me if you use Kale). And certainly you can use any cheese that makes you happy – we used Asiago. Skip the kefir and use yogurt or even milk (though we like the tang of kefir).
And surprisingly, the strata tastes even better as leftovers the next day.
I prepared this two ways – one was to carefully construct the layers in a springform pan which turned out quite well and looked pretty cool and tasted great. The other was to toss all the ingredients (except the custard) into a bowl and mix it up and toss that into a greased casserole dish and then pour the custard over that. That method, I am happy to report was just as good and but not quite as fancy schmancy.
If you want to impress company, or say, your mother-in-law for Mother’s Day, bake the layered strata in the springform pan.
You should get points for that one. Happy brunching.
|Spinach Sausage and Cheese Strata, Gluten Free||
- 8 ounces breakfast sausage broken into small pieces
- 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon thyme
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- 3 to 5 ounces fresh spinach, torn into small pieces
- 12 ounces sharp hard cheese, grated (your choice)
- 14-16 ounces unflavored plain kefir
- 6 extra-large eggs
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- 16 ounce loaf of gluten-free bread, cubed (or cubed and dried) (we use homemade challah)
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease a 9 to 10-inch springform pan with nonstick spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment and spray. Or spray a 9- inch (deep) casserole with nonstick spray.
- Saute sausage and mushrooms until they are caramelized. Stir in nutmeg, thyme, garlic and onion powders right before removing the pan from the heat. Place a single layer of bread cubes in the bottom of the springform pan, filling every space available by squishing the bread together. Place a layer of grated cheese and spinach on top and press down. Add the contents of the sauté pan and distribute evenly. Press down. Add another layer of cheese and spinach. Press firmly. Add another layer of bread packed just as tightly as the first. Add a top layer of cheese and a few spinach leaves, and press it firmly into place.
- Mix kefir and eggs together. Pour the kefir/egg mixture over the strata carefully until the whole thing is used up. You will have to rap the pan on the counter to get the liquid to flow everywhere. It will take a while for the bread to soak it up and use the whole amount, but it will. Sprinkle the top with additional cheese. Let the strata sit on the counter for 15 minutes so the bread can absorb more of the liquid.
- Place on a baking sheet and bake about 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes and serve warm.
- Alternatively, place the sautéed ingredients into a large bowl. Add all the cubed bread, cheese and spinach and fold everything together. Place into prepared pan and press lightly to fill in gaps. Pour the kefir/egg mixture over the casserole and follow the directions above. Bake according to the directions above.