Jenn Segal’s Spinach & Cheese Strata (Photos courtesy of Once Upon a Chef)

Recipe Corner: Once Upon a Chef: Jenn Segal’s Spinach & Cheese Strata

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Layered with spinach, cheese, and bread, and soaked in a savory custard, this make-ahead strata is ideal for entertaining.

Jenn Segal, professional trained chef, mom, and author of the bestselling cookbook Once Upon a Chef, is known for her updated spins on everyday classics. Meticulously tested and crafted with an eye toward both flavor and practicality, Jenn’s recipes focus on exactly what you feel like making in today’s busy and often hectic times.

Jenn is the founder of Once Upon a Chef, the popular cooking blog showcasing easy, family-friendly recipes from a chef’s point of view. Her recipes have been featured on numerous websites, magazines, and television programs, including The Huffington Post, WJLA’s Good Morning Washington, FOX5DC, SeriousEats.com, and Parade.com.

Before creating her blog, she attended the Maryland-based L’Academie de Cuisine, considered one of the top cooking schools in America. She cooked at the acclaimed L’Auberge Chez Francois, and was director of marketing for a prominent restaurant group, both in the Washington D.C. metro area. One marriage and two children later she created Once Upon a Chef featuring her tested and perfected recipes with approachable ingredients and step-by-step photos.

Jenn Segal – Classically Trained Chef, Cookbook Author and Busy Mom (Photos courtesy of Once Upon a Chef)

“I left the restaurant business in 2003 when my first child was born. Now, I’m cooking for my family and sharing my collection of recipes. The recipes on my site reflect my life; as a mom, I need easy meals the whole family will enjoy but the chef in me needs to eat too,” she says. With the authority of a professional chef and the practicality of a busy working mom, Jenn teaches readers how to improve their cooking skills one family-friendly recipe at a time. She lives in Potomac, Maryland, with her family. At Once Upon a Chef readers will discover: step-by-step photos; ingredient recommendations that take the guesswork out of grocery shopping; and menus for special events and holidays, entertaining and everyday family meals.

“A strata is a layered casserole made with bread, eggs, cheese, and sometimes vegetables or meat (strata means layers). Think of it as a savory bread pudding. This spinach version is richly flavored with Gruyère, Parmesan, and Dijon mustard. It’s the perfect vegetarian brunch dish to feed  a large crowd. You do all of the preparation the night before, let the strata rest in the refrigerator overnight, then pop it in the oven in the  morning. As it bakes, it puffs up like a soufflé, making it a real showstopper. The strata does fall a bit as it cools, but it’s still impressive. Serve with crispy bacon, a  strawberry and orange fruit salad, and mimosas,” suggests Jenn.

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“The recipe is pretty flexible so you can play around with different sautéed vegetables depending on what you have on hand. Some cooked sausage or pancetta would also be good — just be sure to reduce the salt in the recipe to a scant teaspoon or the dish will be way too salty.”

Servings: 8-10

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 75 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes, plus at least one hour to sit in the refrigerator

Ingredients:

1 pound bag chopped frozen spinach, thawed completely

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large yellow onion, chopped (about 2 cups)

3 garlic cloves, minced

12 ounces (3/4 pound) Italian sandwich bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 11 slices or 8 cups)

6 ounces (1-1/2 cups) coarsely grated Gruyère

2 ounces (2/3 cup) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

9 large eggs

2-3/4 cups half-and-half

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1-3/4 teaspoons salt

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

 

Preparation:

First, squeeze handfuls of spinach to remove as much liquid as possible.

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and drained spinach and cook 2 minutes more. Set aside.

Butter a 3-quart (or 9×13-inch) baking dish. Spread one third of the bread cubes in the dish and top evenly with one third of spinach mixture. (Try to break it up as much as possible so there are no huge clumps of spinach.) Sprinkle with one third of each cheese. Repeat layering twice, ending with cheeses.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the half-and-half, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper and nutmeg and whisk until well combined. Pour the custard mixture evenly over the strata. Cover the strata with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Bake the strata, uncovered, until puffed, set and golden brown all over top, 70-75 minutes. Let stand 10-15 minutes before serving. (The cook time is based on the strata going immediately from the refrigerator to the oven. If it sits out at room temperature before baking, the cook time will be 10-15 minutes less.)

Note from Jenn: “My starting point for this recipe was this popular strata originally published in Gourmet magazine. I increased the spinach; amped up the flavor by adding garlic and increasing the salt; swapped the milk for half-and-half; and reduced the baking temperature from 350°F to 325°F for a creamier texture.”

For this recipe, go to: https://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/spinach-cheese-strata.html

A Washington Post Bestseller: Once Upon a Chef, the Cookbook: 100 Tested, Perfected, and Family-Approved Recipes (Easy Healthy Cookbook, Family Cookbook, American Cookbook) Hardcover – April 24, 2018 by Jennifer Segal (Author), Alexandra Grablewski (Photographer).

Today, Jenn Segal cooks dinner for her family every night, and in her book, she shares 100 recipes that will up your kitchen game while surprising you with their ease. With the authority of a professional chef and the practicality of a busy working mom, Jenn teaches you to improve your cooking one recipe at a time, with valuable tips on topics such as how to season correctly with salt, how to balance flavors, and how to make the most of leftovers.

To purchase, go to: https://www.onceuponachef.com/cookbooks

There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you’re following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free. For Jenn’s gluten-free adaptable recipes, go to: https://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/gluten-free

Connect at:

https://www.facebook.com/onceuponachef

https://www.pinterest.com/onceuponachef/

https://www.instagram.com/onceuponachef/

https://www.amazon.com/shop/onceuponachef

© 2023 Jennifer Segal

 

 

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