Asparagus and Fontina Strata
A cheesy breakfast casserole made with bread, eggs and milk, a strata can be made with an almost endless variety of vegetables, such as the asparagus and mushrooms featured here. This is a great recipe when you’re hosting a brunch because it serves a crowd with a minimum of hands-on time. For the prettiest presentation, reserve a few whole asparagus spears and, while the strata cooks, blanch them in salted boiling water until crisp-tender. Right before serving, arrange the spears decoratively on the finished strata for a dish that will steal the show at an elegant brunch.
- 4 cups (8 oz./250 g) sourdough bread cubes (1 1/2-inch/4-cm cubes)
- 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 5 oz. (155 g) trumpet mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml) milk
- 8 eggs
- 2 Tbs. spicy or Dijon mustard
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 1/2 cups (6 oz./185 g) grated fontina cheese
- 2 Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon
- 3/4 lb. (375 g) asparagus, ends trimmed, spears cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces
Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a 3 1/2-quart (3.5-l) Dutch oven.
Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool. Keep the oven set at 350°F (180°C).
In a sauté pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the shallot and a pinch each of salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, mustard, lemon zest and cheese until combined. Stir in the tarragon and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the bread cubes to the prepared Dutch oven. Add the mushrooms and asparagus and toss to combine. Pour the milk mixture over the bread mixture and stir to coat the ingredients well. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Bake until the egg mixture is set and the top of the strata is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Serve warm. Serves 8.
Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen