A strata is a savory bread pudding and the name strata refers to all the different layers. It can be made with many different combination's of ingredients. I love any food that uses bread as one of it's main ingredients. This one almost had the flavors of lasagna but using bread instead of noodles.
I layered this with slow roasted tomatoes (the recipe for them is great, I found it on Orangette , and was also featured in her column in Bon Appetite. Check it out, if you have any left over tomatoes). I layered the tomatoes with sauteed spinach, grilled portabellos, and some fontina and then on topped it with more tomatoes and Gorgonzola which formed a nice crispy crust that could be likened to a Gorgonzola tomato toast. Maybe a good recipe in the making, a little tomato spread on toast, topped with Gorgonzola and baked until crunchy. Hmmm....
This recipe I originally got from Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone by Deborah Madison I followed the recipe with a few modifications but this could certainly be deviated from, with endless possibilities! I'm thinking the next version might include something like roasted winter squash, caramelize onions... or maybe roasted apples, bacon, caramelized onions and Gouda... the possibilities are endless. This can easily be made in advance and is a perfect way to use up bread, especially bread a few days old.
Strata (8 servings)
1 lb portabello mushrooms tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper and grilled and sliced thin
2 bunches of spinach wilted, squeezed dry and chopped
approximately 1 1/2 lbs slow roasted tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic chopped finely
2 cups milk
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
10 thin slices of good bread ( I used a mix of a baguette and a semolina bread)
2 TBS chopped rosemary
1/2 cup grated fontina
3/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
Pre- heat the oven to 375. Butter a 9x12" baking dish
Lay out a layer of roasted tomatoes along the bottom of the dish. Next lay down bread to cover the surface in a single layer. Scatter the spinach over the bread and follow with half of each, the herbs, garlic and fontina. Lay another layer of bread, and repeat the same process using the mushrooms this time in place of the spinach. Top with a layer of bread and then scatter the rest of the tomatoes and all the Gorgonzola. Mix the eggs milk and nutmeg together and pour the custard over the entire pan. At this point it can be baked immediately or it can wait several hours, covered and refrigerated. Bake in the oven until brown and puffed, about 1 hour. Cool for a few minutes before serving