It's not that it wasn't offered to me. It must have been. It's my little brother's favorite dessert. I just wouldn't have enjoyed anything about it.
I was a kid who steered clear of creamy casseroles. I wouldn't eat chocolate pudding if it wasn't my mom's homemade. Those mushy desserts like creme brûlée did nothing for me. I just wasn't a fan of the texture.
But then, out for dinner at Blue Ribbon during Brooklyn Restaurant Week last year, I ordered bread pudding. The only other option for dessert was mango sorbet. It was by far the most delicious chocolate chip bread pudding I had ever had, followed by an even more delicious rendition a few months later at Buttermilk Channel.
I was in love.
The apple bread pudding at applewood during Restaurant Week this year reminded me of my newfound obsession.
I made a fabulous chocolate chip bread pudding for dessert for friends, though I took no pictures. Sorry.
I wanted to eat that thing morning, noon and night.
But, try as I might, I just couldn't convince myself that bread pudding was a breakfast food.
That's why this strata made me extra happy. It's the consistency of bread pudding, but it's made savory with the addition of spinach, feta and whole wheat bread.
It's simple to prepare and perfect for brunch because the bulk of the work can be done the night before. Just pop it in the oven an hour before you want to serve it.
The lemon zest adds a splash of flavor that livens up the strata.
adapted from Food: A Love Story, who took it from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Zest of one lemon
3 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups milk
9 large eggs
6 cups day-old whole wheat bread, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups finely chopped baby spinach
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Brush a 9x13 inch baking pan with oil oil. Sprinkle the grated lemon zest over the olive oil.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the mustard, salt, and pepper. Add in the milk and eggs. Whisk well until combined.
Place the bread cubes into the prepared pan. Top with 1/2 cup feta cheese and finely chopped spinach. Gently toss the mixture together with your hands until it is combined. Pour the milk/egg mixture over the bread and press the bread down gently. Sprinkle the remaining feta cheese over the bread.
Cover the strata and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the strata for 45 to 55 minutes, uncovered. The eggs will be set in the middle and the edges will be browned. Serve the strata warm, drizzled with a bit more olive oil.