SPINACH AND GREEN CHILE STRATA

Stratas are a truly great choice for a brunch, because you create this dish the night before, making the time before the brunch much more relaxed. You can change the ingredients to suit your palate and what you have on hand!

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Baking time: 45 to 55 minutes

1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

1 cup chopped sweet onion, such as a Vidalia or Maui (1, medium large)

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup chopped green chile (1, 4 ounce can) or 2 parched, peeled green chiles

1 cup chopped ham

½ cup chopped red bell pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt, divided

Several grinds black pepper

Several grates nutmeg (about ½ teaspoon)

8 cups cubed firm bread such as Italian or French

2 cups grated Swiss cheese (about 6 oz.)

1 cup coarsely grated Romano cheese or Parmesan Romano mix

2 ¾ cup milk

9 eggs

1 teaspoon dried mustard

2 teaspoons caribe chile

1. Press the spinach into a colander to squeeze out excess moisture. Melt butter in a large, heavy skillet over moderate heat. When melted, add the onion, green chile, ham and red bell pepper and cook until the onion is soft. Add ½ teaspoon salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir in the spinach. Taste and adjust seasoning.

2. Layer 1/3 of the bread cubes in a buttered 3 quart casserole. Top evenly with 1/3 of the spinach mixture followed by 1/3 of the cheeses. Repeat twice again.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, mustard, and remaining salt and a few more grinds of black pepper. Pour evenly over the layered bread mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight in the refrigerator—at least 8 hours, which allows the bread to absorb the custard.

4. 1 ½ hours before serving, uncover the wrap and preheat the oven 400 F. After the strata has set for 30 minutes at room temperature, bake in the center of the oven until the middle of the strata is puffed and golden and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. This will take about 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand about 5 minutes before serving.

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