Strata – the “gourmet casserole” It’s got all the homey, comfort food qualities of its predecessors, and a name that brings to mind layer upon layer of savory, custardy bread, melted cheeses, salty meats and seasonal vegetables.
¾ cup shredded Maasdam cheese
¾ cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1 loaf French bread (approximately 16 thin-sliced pieces)
4 ounces Serrano Ham
1 cup (about 4 ounces) roasted asparagus*, chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 ½ cups milk
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Mix the Swiss and Gruyere cheeses together in a small bowl and set aside. Liberally spray an 8” round casserole dish with cooking spray, and place half of the bread slices in the bottom of the dish. Layer half of the Serrano slices over the bread, followed by a layer of half of the roasted asparagus, and half of the cheese mixture. Repeat layering process, ending with a layer of cheese.
In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over strata. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.
When ready to bake, remove the strata from the refrigerator, and let it rest for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake strata for 50 to 60 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, and strata is slightly puffed and golden.
∗ To roast 1 pound of asparagus: Preheat oven to 400°. Wash asparagus and break off bottoms of spears. Place asparagus on baking sheet, and drizzle with about 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Roast for about 10 minutes, until slightly browned and tender. If you like, pour about 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice over asparagus and garnish with some grated lemon rind.