THE WASHINGTON POST – Breakfast bakes are a holiday morning mainstay for good reason. They have a special-event quality to them, standing out as something you wouldn’t necessarily whip up on an average Wednesday. They are prepped the night before, and so offer the cook a relaxed morning. They can feed a house full of guests, or check breakfast off the to-do list for a couple of days.
Most breakfast bakes I have been served over the years have been rich sausage, cheese and cream-laden affairs, which is fine once in a while from this nutritionist’s point of view. But after a night of holiday feasting, if you’re like me, you’re hankering for something a bit lighter.
That’s where this sumptuous strata comes in.
It dishes up all the ease and splendor of a typical breakfast bake but in a more healthful way. It brims with sauteed mushrooms and ribbons of Swiss chard (you could substitute kale or spinach), is fragrant with herbs, and has just enough nutty Gruyere cheese to make it rich and flavourful.
The cubes of crusty whole grain bread absorb the milk and egg mixture, so that once baked, the casserole puffs gloriously with a bread pudding-like texture inside and a crispy top. It’s the kind of breakfast that gives you yet another thing to be thankful for this holiday season.
MUSHROOM AND SWISS CHARD STRATA WITH GRUYERE
Active: 30 minutes | Total: 1 hour 40 minutes, plus overnight chilling time
Make Ahead: The strata needs to be assembled and refrigerated for at least eight hours and preferably overnight before baking.
Storage Notes: Although best served right after baking, the strata will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat, covered, in a 350-degree oven or in the microwave.
Two tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking dish
One medium bunch Swiss chard (about 10 ounces)
One pound mixed mushrooms, sliced, and coarsely chopped if large
One medium onion, diced
Two cloves garlic, minced
10 large eggs
Two cups one per cent low-fat milk
One tablespoon Dijon mustard
One cup packed, shredded Gruyère cheese (4 ounces)
Two teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 3/4 teaspoon dried
One teaspoon chopped fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Eight cups cubed crusty whole-grain bread (1-inch cubes)
Brush a 9×13-inch baking dish with oil. Separate the chard stems from the leaves. Dice the stems and coarsely chop the leaves, keeping them separate.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the mushrooms, onion and chard stems and cook, stirring, until softened and starting to brown, six to eight minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds more. Add the chard leaves and cook, until wilted, about one minute. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and mustard until incorporated. Add the mushroom mixture, cheese, thyme, sage, salt and pepper and stir to incorporate.
Add the bread and toss to combine. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least eight hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle. Meanwhile, let the strata come to room temperature.
Bake for one hour to one hour 10 minutes, or until the strata is set in the center and the top forms a golden-brown crust. Serve warm.
Calories: 310; Total Fat: 15g; Saturated Fat: 5g; Cholesterol: 285mg; Sodium: 580mg; Carbohydrates: 27 g; Dietary Fibre: 4g; Sugars: 8g; Protein: 20g.