Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ham, Cheese, and Spinach Strata

What do you do when you have a couple of slices of ham, half a loaf of week old bread, and a couple ends of cheese lurking in your fridge? You make strata! Or I do anyways.

You can hide all kinds of good stuff in here. I mixed some pumpkin puree into the batter and you really can't tell it is there. For spinach haters the spinach can be left out of course, but please try it with the spinach- you won't really taste it and it adds so much nutrition and colour.

Any bread, except white sandwich bread, will do, but I had a loaf of Seeduction bread from Whole Foods that my Grannie brought when she visited last week (no Whole Foods here, unfortunately). This bread is a showstopper- it's deeply brown and crusty with lots of different seeds. If you can find a loaf like that, all the better. This is the only way Tyler will eat bread like this- he doesn't like his bread with "stuff" in it.

Strata, bread pudding, call it what you want, either way it is delicious. The best strata ever is my Papa's (now my uncle's since Papa passed away). It is reserved for once a year at Easter, not only because it contains just bread, cheese, eggs, and possibly cream (read: no vegetables) but because it is something to look forward to once a year. If we made it all the time it wouldn't be special anymore, right?

Serves 4

  • 1/2 loaf crusty bread (stale is better), cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1/2 300g box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess moisture squeezed out
  • 1 cup diced ham
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to season

Toss together cubed bread, spinach, ham, and cheese in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Pour egg mixture into bowl with bread and stir to coat all bread cubes with batter. Let stand while oven heats.

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a casserole dish with cooking spray. When oven is heated, pour bread mixture into prepared dish. Bake 35-45 minutes, or until top is browned and crusty.

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