Spinach and Mushroom Strata

Strata

Well that lasted. I want to blame the belated post this week on the newest addition to the household. Everybody, meet Geoffery. A new dog meant that my free time suddenly went *poof*. So, here we are.

Geoffery

Hi, everybody

A strata is a savory breakfast bread pudding made with alternating layers (or “strata”… get it?) of cubed bread, filling and egg. Because this kind of recipe needs to rest in order to set fully, it is best to make it night before. That means that, of course,  I almost never get around to making one because, lets face it, who wants to do breakfast dishes right after finishing cleaning up from dinner? I first came across this dish at my first trip up to visit Will’s parents and it quickly rocketed to the top of my preferred breakfast food list.

Despite the pre-planing required to make a good strata, it can easily give two people a week’s worth of breakfasts or (made ahead, of course) can be easily re-heated to feed a crowd

Spinach and Mushroom Strata:

(makes 12 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Loaf Crusty Bread (such as a baguette), cut into 1″ cubes
  • 12 Large Eggs
  • 2 Cups Soy Milk  or Lactaid(or regular milk if you are not lactose-impaired)
  • 3/4 Cup freshly grated Parmesean or Pecorino Cheese
  • 1 8 oz package Baby Bella Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 10 oz package Fresh Spinach
  • 1 clove Garlic, crushed
  • Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper

Saute mushrooms (in batches, if needed) in 1 tsp oil over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pan until well browned and almost cooked through. Add spinach and garlic  along with a bit of salt and pepper (~1/8 tsp each) and lower the heat to medium-low. Continue cooking until mushrooms are finished and spinach is fully wilted. Set aside

Beat together eggs and milk in a large bowl until fully combined. Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper (~1/4 tsp each)

In a greased baking pan, layer 1/2 of the vegetable mixture over 1/2 of the bread and pour over that 1/2 of the egg mixture. Repeat. Refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat the oven to 350 F and bake for 45 minutes or until strata is fully set and the top is well browned.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Be sure to set the strata out at room temperature while the oven is heating. The temperature shock of moving directly from the fridge to the hot oven ( a difference of ~315 F or 157 C) could cause crack propagation in your Pyrex. This means a gross mess all over your oven and a distinct lack of yummy breakfast. Don’t lose your breakfast. Let the glass warm up a bit.

Arugula Salad with White Beans and Wild Rice

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Oof. One week in and classes are already in full swing (and with four grad level classes, full swing means homework due Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights). Nevertheless, I am back in the kitchen almost every night, even if it does mean that I don’t start cooking until 9:15 most nights of the week. Of course, those nights when I don’t quite make it into the kitchen are usually filled with pizza and beer, so I need to be especially careful to eat healthy the other six nights. And, as everyone knows, pizza always tastes better if you have been subsiding on soups and salads).

With that in mind, I made a delightfully light (and totally filling) arugula salad for dinner the other night. White beans and wild rice provide enough protein that it doesn’t feel like rabbit food, while a light Dijon vinaigrette gives it an elegant flavor.

Arugula Salad with White Beans and Wild Rice 

(Serves two)

  • One box baby Arugula  (5oz)
  • ½ cup dried or one can Cannelloni Beans
  • ½ cup Wild Rice
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. Olive Oil
  • ¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
  • ¼ tsp. each Dried Basil and Garlic Powder
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

If using dried cannelloni beans, soak for 8-12 hours and then cook for  ~45 minutes in simmering water (enough to cover the beans by one inch) or until a bean can be easily smooshed between your fingers without feeling grainy. Drain and allow to cool completely. Add salt about 40 minutes add a pinch of salt to the water. If using canned beans, they do not need to be cooked, just drained and rinsed.

Simmer the wild rice for 45 minutes in a tightly sealed pot or until rice is tender. Use a 2:1 water to rice ratio. Allow to cool completely before use.

In a cup, combine oil, vinegar, mustard, basil and garlic in a small bowl (I used a measuring cup, fill the balsamic to the ¼ cup mark, then use the oil to fill to the ⅓ cup mark) and whisk with a fork (or whisk if that floats your boat) until all ingredients are well combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.

Combine dressing, drained beans, rice and arugula in a large bowl and toss to combine. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Long time no see.

Hey all. As you may have noticed I have flown under the radar this past semester. Apparently, when you are directing a greatly abridged version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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while acting in a mainstage production of Murdered to Death (not, of course, to be confused with the hit movie Murder by Death with Peter Sellers)

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and taking a full credit load all during the same semester, you have very little time to cook, much less to create new and exciting recipes for you all to enjoy. But after a holiday break of friends and family loudly wondering when I was going to blog once more, I made myself a new year’s resolution. Now, as I sit here on this lazy Sunday evening, with a pot of French onion soup simmering away, baguettes baking in the oven and a glass of cheap white wine in my hand, I am finally ready to act. From next week on, I will supply you with at least one exciting recipe a week. Who knows? I may even get around to finishing Legume Week. The world is a crazy place.