It was a rainy day on Sunday when we stopped by for New Years Tea at our friends Jo and Oliver’s home. In a way it was the perfect day to spend with friends with a hot cup of tea or coffee and some hot vegetable strata. Jo and Oliver are the sweetest couple around! Not only that, they have a lovely home beautifully decorated and welcoming. Jo has a background in textiles and interior design, as you can imagine, their home is lovely. And Oliver is a connoisseur of food. Oliver cooks amazing gourmet meals. We all love going to their home because we know we are going to be treated to a great meal in beautiful surroundings, with the most wonderful hosts.
As expected when we went to Jo and Oliver’s for tea, we walked into their kitchen to see a lovely spread of gourmet cheeses and crackers, a decadent tray of sweet treats and pastries from our local French bakery Fleur de Cocoa, and the main course – a piping hot baking dish of Strata.
Strata was the belle of the plate. Piping hot spongy bread soaked in milk and eggs, baked with mushrooms and caramelized onions with three cheeses; it was sheer heaven on a rainy afternoon. I asked Oliver for the recipe and he explained how Strata is really just a savory bread pudding, and he makes it all the time with different types of breads and fillings. He said strata especially works out great when he has large gathering and guests over for the holidays.
I wanted to share this recipe for strata with all of you as it is so hearty and delicious and makes a wonderful dinner or lunch main course. I made this Mushroom and Spinach Strata when we stopped by to see my cousins Nando and Uma for lunch. I looked up the recipe on Epicurious and Williams Sonoma. I kind of combined two recipes together and made my own version, that’s the recipe I have in this post. To see the original recipes for strata take a look at Epicurious and Williams-Sonoma strata recipes
Mushroom and Spinach Strata:
- 1 box shitake mushrooms – chopped into thin slices
- 1 large yellow onion chopped into long slivers
- 1 bag of baby spinach chopped
- Olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh thyme
- 1-cup Parmesan cheese
- 1-cup fontina
- 1 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 1 loaf sweet batard or French bread
- 2 1/4 cups half and half
- 8 eggs
- Makes enough for 8-10 people
- In a large baking dish spread some butter to coat the bottom of the dish.
- Cut the bread into 1 inch pieces and set aside.
- In a large pan put 2-4 tbsp of Olive Oil or enough to your liking. Sauté mushrooms, onions and spinach until cooked. I cooked them all separately so I get the right consistency that I like, but you can do them all together if you want. Cook until all the moisture is evaporated. Set aside.
- In a large bowl whisk together eggs and half and half. Set aside.
- In another bowl grate all the cheeses and set aside.
- Now add the cheese to the egg mixture and combine. Add thyme, salt and pepper to taste.
- To this egg and cheese mixture add the vegetables and mix well.
- In the baking dish place one layer of bread and pour egg mixture over the bread. About 1 cup.
- Put more bread crumbs on another layer and ladle over more egg mixture.
- Alternate this until all the bread and egg mixture are finished.
- Top with some grated cheese.
- Cover the dish and keep in the refrigerator overnight.
- Bake the next day in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour or until the strata is golden brown and fluffy.
- Serve with salad or soup
More about the health benefits of mushrooms: Mushrooms are good for the immune system and are rich in antioxidants. Specifically a compound called lentinan in shiitake mushrooms has been found to increase the survival rate of cancer patients in studies done in Japan. Because of their beneficial immune boosting properties the extract of shitake mushrooms are used to help prevent and treat cancer in some research institutions as well. For more information on the benefits of mushrooms in your diet, specifically shitake mushrooms and how it is being used for cancer treatment, check out these articles. It’s pretty fascinating.