The Breakfast Curse [Aged Cheddar, Spinach & Arugula Strata]

It’s become blatantly obvious over the past few months that I have a terrible curse. One that affects not only myself, but whomever happens to be with me. A breakfast curse. 

Ottawa has been gifted with many wonderful restaurants that serve creative and enticing brunch menus to the masses that show up from open to close on the weekends (and likely during the week as well, but brunch doesn’t exist during the week as far as I’m concerned. It’s just easier that way.)

What could possibly be the issue, then?
Let me tell you. Every time I am asked out to brunch, or take Mr. GL (who isn’t the biggest brunch fan in the first place) out, we end up waiting over an hour to get our food while everyone around us receives theirs almost immediately. Customers come and go as we sit, tummies grumbling. Every time.  And as if that weren’t bad enough, I usually end up getting the snarkiest, most unhelpful waiter in the joint. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a reality I’ve come to accept. Brunch spots and I just don’t mix. Maybe I’ll give it a few years and try again. Maybe. 

Instead of sulking at home eating roasted chicken and potatoes with gravy for breakfast, I’ve been experimenting more with some brunch options that are easily made in advance and can be cooked in the morning for a quick and satisfying breakfast that doesn’t require waiting in line, waiting an hour to be served, or being barked at by wait staff. 

I brought this Strata to my girlfriends place last weekend and was so thrilled at the simplicity of it. It was beautiful to look at, delightful to eat, and easy to make. And as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t get much better than that. Add a few homefries, some fruit salad and coffee for a full brunch that you don’t even have to brush your hair or get dressed to enjoy. 

Aged Cheddar, Spinach & Arugula Strata
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Tip: I made the mistake of using a too-tiny dish and ended up with raw eggs all over the floor, counter, and myself. It’s probably best you try to avoid that. 

1 large onion, chopped
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 10oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeeze of all excess liquid
2 large handfuls arugula
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
8 cups crusty bread, cut into cubes
3 cups good quality aged (I used 4yr) cheddar
2 3/4 cups milk
9 large eggs
2 tbsp Dijon mustard

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onions. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the 1/2 the salt, 1/2 the pepper and nutmeg and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the spinach and arugula and cook until arugula is soft. 

Butter a 3-qt gratin dish and add half the bread cubes. Cover with half the spinach mixture and half of the cheese. Repeat again. 

In a separate dish, whisk the eggs, milk and dijon and remaining salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the bread. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, up to a day. 

This was immediately before the eggs spilled onto everything. Thankfully, I got the photo just in time. 

The next day, let the dish sit at room temperature for 30 minutes while you’re preheating the oven to 350.

Bake, uncovered on the middle rack, until puffy and  golden brown on top, 45-55 minutes. 

Pour yourself a coffee, grab the newspaper and enjoy! 


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