Tuesday, March 8, 2011

it's italian for 'layer'

Loose-leaf lettuces, spinach, turnips, hot house tomatoes,

cilantro, broccoli, oranges, chard and leeks!

In my first few days with Farmhouse Delivery vegetables filling my refrigerator drawers, I learned for sure what I had suspected: signing up to have a lot of vegetables around doesn't mean you're set for groceries. It means buying more accompaniments — cheeses and breads and beans and grains are what turn greens into meals. In case I'm making it sound like it, I should be clear and say this is not a bad thing. See below:

Before being doused with egg.

This is a Gourmet spinach and cheese strata I found by way of Deb. What she calls a do-ahead brunch meal, I'm calling lunch and dinner for the next few days. With the exception of eggs, milk and cheese, the major ingredients (you know, not seasoning and oil) for this recipe came from my bushel bin — my first-time delivery came with a free whole wheat baguette, too!

These remind of a calendar I had that cracked me up daily.

It took a small bit of adapting. For one thing, I don't need to eat six to eight servings of an eggy brunch dish on my own (Miguel's not into quiche-like things, surprise), so I halved it. I also used leeks instead of the onion called for and fresh spinach instead of frozen and sort of guessed at how much bread and spinach I could fit in. I'm pretty sure this is fine because it seems like the kind of recipe you could get away with filling any old way.

I accidentally added all the salt and pepper to the vegetables rather than saving some for the eggnog-like mixture that gets poured over the whole thing, but to no ill effect. It's cheesy and satisfying, the two best adjectives that can go with food, and reheats quite well. While the whole point of the strata was to put fresh vegetables to use — and it is a wonderful way to do that — I have to confess: my favorite bites are heavy on baguette.


Next up: what to do with turnips? Any suggestions?

Spinach and cheese strata

Adapted from Gourmet

Serves three to four

1 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

3/4 cups finely chopped onion or leeks
1 large bunch of spinach, roughly torn

1/2 tsp. salt, divided
1/4 tsp. black pepper, divided
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
4 cups baguette in 1-inch cubes (1/2 lb)
3 ounces coarsely grated Emmentaler cheese (1 cup)
1 ounce shredded Parmesan
Just under 1 1/2 cups milk
5 large eggs
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

Sauté onion in butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until soft, about three minutes. Stir in spinach and add 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and the nutmeg. Continue cooking until the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and set aside.

Spread one third of the bread cubes in a well-buttered ceramic baking dish. Top with one-third of the spinach mixture and one-third of each cheese. Repeat layering twice with remaining bread, spinach and cheese.

Whisk together eggs, milk, mustard and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in a large measuring cup and pour it evenly over the strata. Cover the strata with plastic wrap and chill it for eat least eight 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 five minutes before serving.


  1. This was delicious. I don't want to go buy anything so I'm going to try it with a different bread and all Parmesan... we shall see.

    Here's my turnip recommendation: http://bakinlove.blogspot.com/2011/01/harkurei-turnips.html

  2. I have a strong feeling that would work out perfectly. Maybe you could use up all those extra spring onions with it, too. Turnip gratin is on the menu!