Light and Fluffy Spinach and Cheese Strata
We’ve been breaking the fast with the same friends from Temple Sinai for many years. Sometimes we rotate houses, but luckily for us, our friends Colleen Connors and Howard Opinsky usually welcome the group into their lovely DC home. Colleen and Howard have many friends who are great cooks so the food is always abundant and delicious, but the dish I look forward to most every year is Colleen’s cheese strata. In case you aren’t familiar with it, strata is an Italian baked egg and bread dish that, when done right, is both fluffy and rich with a mild and soothing flavor, perfect for brunch or break-fast. The other element that makes a strata ideal for Yom Kippur is that it can be made up to a day in advance so you can stay out of the kitchen during the fast and still turn out a great dish to share. I haven’t been able to recreate Colleen’s perfect strata, but this version with spinach and herbs is also a hit with friends I’ve served it to.
- 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach
- 6 eggs
- 1½ cups non-fat or low-fat milk
- 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
- 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence, or other Italian herbs
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 6 slices (about 4 cups) ciabatta bread, about 1/2-inch thick, cubed, or use any day-old bread
- Defrost the spinach in the microwave or on the stovetop. (I put it in a saucepan without any added liquid and steam it over medium heat, covered, until it is thawed, about 5 minutes.) Spray a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and the milk. Whisk in the cheeses, herbs, garlic powder and salt. Stir in the spinach with as little liquid as possible and the bread cubes until the bread is completely moistened. Pour egg mixture into the baking dish, smoothing it with the back of a spoon, if necessary. Refrigerate it, covered, for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
- When you are ready to bake it, remove the strata from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake it in the center of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes until it is browned on the edges and cooked through in the center. Cut it into squares to serve it.
- Slow Cooker Directions: In the slow cooker, whisk together the eggs and the milk, then whisk in the cheeses, herbs, garlic powder and salt. Stir in the spinach and bread cubes until the bread is completely moistened. Cook on low for 4 to 5 hours or on high for 2 to 3 hours.