Asparagus & Gruyere Strata

 

Asparagus and Gruyere Strata

Serves 8 to 10

Strata is perfect for brunch, because you can assemble it the night before. Feel free to play around with the cheese and vegetable combinations; instead of asparagus, try broccoli florets and sharp cheddar cheese, or add cubed ham.

8 eggs

3 cups milk or half-and-half

14-16 ounces crusty white country-style or whole-grain bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 8 cups)

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, cut on the bias into 1½- inch pieces

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 cups grated gruyere cheese

Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and set aside.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to boil. Add the asparagus and cook 1 minute. Drain; set aside.

Line the bottom of the baking dish with half of the bread cubes. Scatter one third of the cheese and asparagus over the bread cubes. Top with another third of the bread cubes, the remaining cheese and asparagus, and then the remaining bread cubes.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk or half-and-half, thyme, chives, Dijon mustard and salt and black pepper to taste. Pour over the strata. Cover with plastic wrap and weigh down, using zip-top bags filled with beans or rice; let rest at least half an hour, and up to overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the plastic wrap from the baking dish; cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake until the top of the strata is browned and the center is set, 15 to 20 minutes more. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

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