By food contributor Sarah
Ah spring is in the air. Finally, the calendar only has a handful of days left until the momentous occasion. Today, I’m sharing a simple recipe for a perfect spring brunch. There is something about the season of daffodils and pretty dresses that makes me want to invite friends over, open the windows, and celebrate. This strata is essentially a savory bread pudding baked with bright green asparagus, leeks, and nutty Gruyere. I served it with sliced grapefruit, oranges, and blackberries although almost any fruit combination would be perfect.
Here’s the recipe…
Asparagus & Leek Strata
Serves 6 to 8
1 bunch asparagus, tips set aside and stems chopped
2 leeks, sliced down the middle then across into thin ribbons, rinsed thoroughly
1 large onion, chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
8 cups cubed French or Italian bread in 1-inch cubes
6 ounces coarsely grated Gruyère (2 cups)
2 ounces finely grated parmesan (1 cup)
2 3/4 cups milk
9 large eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Cook onion in butter over medium-high heat until soft, about 5 minutes then add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and continue cooking for one minute. Stir in asparagus stems and leeks and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft and starting to caramelize.
Now build the strata in layers. Butter a 3-quart gratin dish or other ceramic baking dish. Start with the bread – spread 1/3 of the cubes in the bottom of the dish, top with one-third of vegetable mixture and one-third of each cheese. Repeat layering twice with remaining bread, vegetables, and cheese. Finish by decorating the top with the asparagus tips.
Whisk eggs, milk, mustard and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in a large bowl and pour evenly over strata. Cover with plastic wrap and chill strata for eat least 8 hours or up to a day.
The next day, let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes while preheating the oven to 350°F. Bake strata, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.