Holiday Brunch

This past Thanksgiving was my third fully executed holiday dinner. From soup to nuts, I made sausage apple stuffing, scalloped potatoes with caramelized fennel, kale salad, an herbed turkey, and with help from Mark and Benjamin our go-to pumpkin pie. It was a wonderful meal shared with good friends, everything Thanksgiving should be. 

The emphasis on holiday meals is usually firmly on dinner, as it really should. But after prepping the spinach and fontina strata below for an easy post-turkey trot breakfast, I am going to be paying more attention to the morning menu. This would be a great brunch addition for any celebration as you can prep it up to two days ahead. It was the perfect combination of warm and filling without being heavy.

Thanks to our dear friend Wade for the beautiful photos.

Recipe from Martha Stewart Living November 2013.

2 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 tsp salt

2 pounds spinach, coarsely chopped

1/4 tsp ground pepper

1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

Unsalted butter, for dish

1 pound challah loaf, sliced 1/2 inch thick

8 ounces young Italian fontina, grated, divided (I would use a saltier cheese next time, likely a mix of fontina and gruyere)

1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated, divided

8 large eggs, divided

2 2/3 cups whole milk, divided

Parchment paper

Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium. Add onion and 1/2 tsp salt, sauté about 3 minutes. Fill pan with as much spinach as possible; cook stirring adding as space allows. When all the spinach is wilted, stir in pepper and nutmeg. Drain spinach in a colander, when cool (this takes about 10 minutes) remove excess moisture by hand.

Butter a 3-quart baking dish. Place a third of the bread in a single layer, top with half the spinach mixture and a third of the cheeses. Repeat layering then top with remaining bread.

Whisk together 6 eggs, 2 cups milk, and 1/2 tsp salt, carefully pour over bread. Cover with parchment paper (I used aluminum foil in a pinch) and gently press down until egg mixture soaks through bread. Cover with foil and refrigerate at least 8 hours and up to 2 days.

Remove strata from refrigerator, uncover and let stand 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together remaining 2 eggs and 2/3 cup milk, and pour over strata, gently pressing between layers of bread with a spatula to ensure that mixture seeps through. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Bake until puffed and golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

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