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. We love going to Jo an Oliver’s home because we know we are going to be treated to a great meal in beautiful surroundings, with the most wonderful hosts. Our host Oliver is a connoisseur of food. Oliver cooks amazing gourmet meals and as expected we walked into a lovely spread of gourmet cheeses, a decadent tray of pastries, and the main course – a piping hot baking dish of Strata.
Oliver’s strata was the belle of our tea. Spongy bread soaked in milk and eggs, all 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 explained how strata especially works out great when he has gatherings as it makes a great one pot meal.
I wanted to share this recipe with all of you as it is so hearty and delicious and makes a wonderful dinner or lunch main course. Strata makes for a great make-ahead dish too. Just assemble the strata the day before and place in the refrigerator overnight. The next day all you do is bake and serve.
For this recipe I combined two recipes together and made my own version, the original recipes are from Epicurious and Williams-Sonoma. For lots more strata recipes take a look at the two sites. For my strata recipe with mushrooms and spinach her it is.
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. 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 in the mushrooms. 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 all the cheese to the egg mixture. 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 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.