Asparagus & Mushroom Strata
The new-found popularity of these savoury bread puddings is doubtless due to their delicious versati-lity. They work well as a breakfast, brunch, lunch or light supper dish and can be prepared the night before and baked the next day. For slightly heartier fare, add cooked sausage or ham to the filling.
3 tbsp. (45 mL) butter
8 slices dry bread (use good bakery bread, not too thinly sliced)
1 cup (250 mL) grated Gruyère or Swiss cheese
2 cups (500 mL) asparagus, in 1-in. (2.5-cm) pieces, steamed until tender
1⁄2 cup (125 mL) mushrooms, thinly sliced
1⁄2 cup (125 mL) chives, finely chopped
2 cups (500 mL) milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Lightly grease an 8-inch square (2-L) glass or ceramic baking dish with a small amount of butter. Use the remaining butter to spread on one side of each slice of bread. Place one layer of bread in baking dish, buttered side up. Sprinkle with half the cheese. Scatter half each of asparagus, mushrooms and chives over the cheese. Add remaining slices of bread and repeat layering.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and seasoning. Pour mixture over bread layers, pushing the top layer down into the mixture, if necessary, to ensure all slices are coated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Remove from refrigerator about 45 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Remove plastic wrap and place strata in upper part of oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until it has puffed up and turned brown, and a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let stand for about 15 minutes before serving.