Broccoli Rabe, Pesto and Smoked Mozzarella Strata
Broccoli rabe—also known as broccoli raab, rapini and Italian broccoli—has slender stalks with small, jagged leaves and florets. It has a slightly bitter taste with overtones of sweet mustard. Layer it with egg-soaked sourdough bread, pesto and Italian cheese in this gorgeous winter strata.
- Salt, to taste, plus 1/2 tsp.
- 3/4 lb. broccoli rabe, thick stems removed
- Oil for baking dish
- 5 to 7 slices sourdough bread, each about 1/2 inch thick, crusts removed
- 1/4 cup prepared pesto
- 1 1/2 cups shredded smoked mozzarella or fontina cheese
- 1 cup milk
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the broccoli rabe and cook until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water, then squeeze out as much water as possible. Coarsely chop the broccoli rabe.
Generously oil a 7-by-11-inch baking dish. Place a few slices of the bread in the bottom of the prepared dish, cutting them as necessary to make an even layer. Spread the broccoli rabe evenly over the bread. Dollop the pesto over the broccoli rabe, spacing it evenly. Scatter with 3/4 cup of the cheese and top with the remaining bread, again cutting to fit.
In a large bowl, combine the milk, cream, eggs, mustard, the 1/2 tsp. salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Whisk vigorously until smooth. Pour over the bread and use the back of a large spoon to press the bread down into the egg mixture. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat an oven to 350°F.
Press the bread down into the egg mixture after about 15 minutes and again just before placing in the oven. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Transfer to the oven and bake until the strata is puffed, golden and crisp, about 45 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma One Pot of the Day, by Kate McMillan (Weldon Owen, 2012).