Monday, January 3, 2011

Spinach and Cheddar Strata

Now, I'm not one to make lofty New Year's resolutions.  I feel that it is important to eat healthy and be active all year long, not just in January.  But I am also realistic and know that many of us indulge a little bit more than usual during the holidays, so I think it is important to get back to our routines and schedules and back to a healthier lifestyle now that we have rung in the new year.  I promised you I would go back to my normal way of cooking after the first of the year (enough cookie recipes!), and I don't want to let you down.  So, today I decided to bake up something easy, with ingredients I already had on hand.  Spinach and Cheddar Strata was just the thing!
This is a pretty simple and straightforward recipe, and really, I think it is more of a technique than anything else.  I feel like I will be making this quite often in the future, basically just throwing in whatever leftover vegetables and meat I may have laying around that I want to use up. 

I followed this Martha Stewart recipe, and it was great because I could make the strata up ahead of time and let it hang out in the refrigerator for a few hours until I was ready to bake it.  The only thing I would do differently next time is to maybe mix the shredded cheese in with the spinach and bread rather than adding it to the egg and milk mixture.  I found that following the recipe as written, all the cheese ended up on top, rather than mixed throughout, so it seemed kind of pointless to me to add another 1/2 cup cheese on top of that (don't get me wrong, I did it anyway...come on, who doesn't love ooey, gooey melted cheese??!).  All in all, a wonderful recipe and a terrific way to jump-start healthy eating in the New Year. 

Spinach and Cheddar Strata
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
10 ounces fresh baby spinach
3 cups day-old bread (preferably something chewy...I used a leftover loaf of 7-grain)
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
3 ounces grated Cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400F.  in a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high.  Add spinach and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to a colander and drain, pressing with a rubber spatula to release as much liquid as possible.  Combine spinach and bread in a large bowl, mixing until evenly distributed.  Transfer to an 8-inch square baking dish lightly sprayed with cooking spray. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and 3/4 cup cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.  Pour egg mixture over bread cubes in prepared dish, pressing down on bread lightly.  Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.  Bake for 35 minutes.

Adapted from Martha Stewart

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