Strata & Romesco Sauce: Fancy Egg Casserole by Another Name
Whether you spell it strata or stratta or simply egg casserole, you find this savory egg bread pudding throughout Europe – and anywhere else where you have leftover bread.
You always start with bread, eggs, and cheese – then you decide what else you’d like. You can keep it strictly vegetarian with an array of possibilities – or you can go in the carnivorous direction by adding various meats. Think quiche when constructing the ingredients for your strata.
We did a survey of on-line recipes, and found quite a few that we liked (the best were on Martha Stewart, of course), and tried a few in our test kitchen. Some failed because of lack of taste or texture – so here we will give you a fool-proof version, then add some real class with the Serious Foodie Romesco Sauce.
The keys to a good strata are few but all important:
- Find the best ingredients. If you see some wonderful in-season vegetable at the store or farmer’s market, grab it (asparagus is quite brilliant right now).
- You must start with dried out bread – either stale, or toasted. We preferred toasted bread for our version.
- You must prepare the “pudding” the night before, then cook the next day. Otherwise, the egg mixtures does not properly soak into the bread.
- While you can make your own Romesco sauce, our parent company has released an outstanding version – you can order it on-line, or ask your local store to carry it.
- 1 loaf rustic French or Italian white bread, cut into ¼ inch slices
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced
- 1 bag baby spinach, washed and dried
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 5 large eggs
- 2 cups whole milk (do not substitute with skim)
- 2 cups finely grated Fontina
- ½ cup grated Parmesan
- 1 cup grated mozzarella
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives (optional)
- If the bread is not dry (stale), then toast the bread (we prefer toasted bread for this recipe)
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add the olive oil. Add the onion and cook unntil golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and saute for 1 minute or until the garlic is fragrant. Immediately add the spinach, and toss well. Lightly salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Meanwhile, butter a 9 x 9 inch square baking dish. Line the bottom with the sliced, toasted bread. Sprinkle with some of the cheeses and the optional herbs (but not all). Put another layer of bread into the dish, then repeat by sprinkling with some cheese and herbs.
- Whisk together eggs, milk, the remaining cheeses, salt, pepper, and the remaining optional herbs. Stir in the cooled spinach mixture. Pour this mixture into the prepared baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours (or overnight).
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bake strata until puffed and golden, about 40 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
- Spread the Romesco sauce over each slice of strata, and maybe a bit on the side for dipping.