Spinach and Gruyere Breakfast Strata
18-20 (1/2 inch-thick) slices Italian bread
10 tbsp. butter softened
8 medium shallots, minced
16-20 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed & squeezed dry
12 oz. Gruyere cheese, grated (about 3 cups)
12 large eggs
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
Tabasco/hot sauce to taste (7-10 drops)
2 cups of whole milk
2 cups of half & half
Salt and pepper
On a large baking sheet, arrange slices in single layer and leave them out several hours to dry, or place in preheated oven at 225 degrees and bake until dry, about 30-40 minutes. When bread is dry, butter the slices on one side with 4 tbsp. softened butter. Set aside.
Heat 4 tbsp butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Saute the shallots until fragrant & translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add spinach, salt and pepper to taste and cook, stirring occasionally, until combined, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
Butter a 9 x 13-inch rectangle baking dish with the remaining 1-2 tbsp butter, arrange half of the bread slices buttered-side up in a single layer in the dish. Sprinkle with half of the spinach mixture, then 1-cup grated cheese evenly over the bread slices. Arrange the the remaining bread slices in a single layer over the cheese; sprinkle the remaining spinach mixture and another 1-cup cheese evenly over the bread.
In a large bowl whisk the eggs until combined; whisk in the Dijon mustard and Tabasco. Then whisk in the half & half and milk and 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt and pepper to taste. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread layers; cover the surface flush with plastic wrap. Weight down with flat plate or one-pound boxes of sugar or cake mix. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
Remove dish from refrigerator, let stand at room temperature 20-30 minutes. Uncover the strata and sprinkle with remaining 1-cup cheese and grated nutmeg evenly over the surface. Bake in preheated 325 degree oven for about 60 minutes. The strata top should be barley puffed & still slightly loose in center when the pan is jiggled gently. It will set from residual heat. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.