A strata is essentially a casserole made up of soaked bread, eggs and cheese that is typically served for brunch or a light lunch. I really like this variation because the spinach and asparagus lighten the dish and the fresh sage brings freshness. Serve with a light salad for a delicious vegetarian meal or part of a brunch spread. You can substitute a different loaf of bread for the sourdough and use fresh basil or dill if you do not have sage.
Eggy Sourdough and Asparagus Strata
Active time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: about 80 minutes
Roughly 4 cups (3/4 lb/330 g) sourdough bread cut in 1-inch cubes, hard crusts removed
2/3 cup (70 g) grated parmesan
¾ cup (190 g) crème fraîche or sour cream
1 cup (25 cl) milk (2% or whole)
Salt & pepper
8 medium green asparagus stalks, hard ends discarded
8 cups (150 g) leafy spinach
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon olive oil
10 fresh sage leaves
7 large eggs
1 ½ cups (180 g) crumbled feta cheese
Discard the hard crusts of the sourdough bread. Cut the rest of the bread into roughly 1-inch cubes. In a large bowl, mix the parmesan cheese, crème fraîche (or sour cream), milk, a teaspoon of salt and a dash of ground black pepper. Add the bread cubes and gently mix together. Let soak for at least 30 minutes.
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the asparagus for exactly 5 minutes. Drain and slice the asparagus down the middle, lengthwise. Set aside.
Clean and trim the stems off the spinach; roughly chop. Mince the garlic clove. In the large pot you cooked the asparagus in (or a sauté pan), heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and chopped spinach. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes or until cooked down. Let cool.
Preheat the oven to 355° F (180° C). Lightly grease the baking pan.
Cut the sage leaves into thin strips. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl. Add the beaten eggs, the strips of sage leaves, the sautéed spinach/garlic and 1 cup/120g (save the rest) of the crumbled feta cheese to the soaked bread. Gently stir together.
Pour the mixture evenly into the baking pan and place the asparagus halves over the top. Bake for 20 minutes. Take out of the oven and sprinkle the remaining ½ cup/60g of feta cheese on top. Bake for another 35-40 minutes or until the top is golden and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Serve hot or at room temperature with a light salad. The dish can be made up to one day ahead and reheated before serving.
And bon appétit!