From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This dish made it to my table because I was looking for a more substantial strata to serve for a holiday brunch. As it happens, I actually found the dish to be too flavorful for the first meal of the day, but I do think that it might work for those of you who like to do breakfast for dinner or are in the market for a substantial lunch dish. I found the recipe for the strata in Eating Well magazine, and, as you'll see as you skim through the ingredient list, the strata tracks closely to most recipes for lasagna. Very closely. Only the addition of milk and the substitution of bread for noodles set it apart from the standard dish. There is nothing wrong with this dish and the recipe is easy to follow, but it is so much like the lasagna of memory, that you might want to stick to the real thing. If you decide to give this recipe a try, you'll want to use a sturdy bread, a well-flavored marinara sauce and let the dish sit overnight before baking it off. Here is how the strata is made.
Tomato and Spinach Strata...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Eating Well magazine
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 15-ounce container part-skim ricotta cheese
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry, or 1 1/2 pounds fresh spinach, cooked, squeezed dry and chopped
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups prepared marinara sauce, divided
6 slices whole-grain sandwich bread, preferably day-old
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
3 large eggs
1 cup low-fat milk
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1) Coat a 7-by-11-inch (or similar-size) baking dish with cooking spray.
2) Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened but not browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil to pan; increase heat to medium-high. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until moisture has evaporated, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl with the onions, add 1/4 teaspoon pepper and salt and stir to combine.
3) Combine ricotta, spinach, nutmeg and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper in another bowl.
4) Spoon 1 cup marinara sauce into prepared baking dish. Break each slice of bread into 4 roughly equal pieces; arrange half of bread on sauce (bread doesn’t have to completely cover the sauce). Spoon the ricotta mixture over the bread. Arrange remaining bread over ricotta. Scatter mushroom mixture over the bread. Top with mozzarella. Spoon remaining marinara sauce over top. Pan will be very full.
5) Whisk eggs and milk in a small bowl. Pour mixture slowly over casserole, poking filling gently with tip of a knife until egg mixture is evenly distributed and bread is saturated. Coat a piece of foil with cooking spray on one side and cover casserole, sprayed-side down. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.
6) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F, Bake strata, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake until puffed and golden brown, 10 minutes more. Let stand for 10 minutes. Serve sprinkled with parsley. Yield: 8 servings.
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