I’ve always taken Christmas morning breakfast very seriously. Some might say too seriously but those people are, frankly, not living their best life. Christmas morning breakfast is sacred. It’s the one morning meal all year that allows, nay, demands you throw caution to the wind and eat and drink whatever you damn well
From the time I was a kid, I was taught to respect the rare breakfast opportunity Christmas presented. For me, the holiday season began when we put in our order for our Christmas morning croissants at the beginning of December. And then the festivities were kicked into high gear when we picked them up on Christmas Eve. We always got them from the same place: Juliene’s Patisserie in Halifax’s Hydrostone Market. And I always ate them with a good slathering of goat cheese and raspberry jam. You know, just to really maximize my caloric intake.
But this year I’m not in Halifax and there certainly isn’t a Juliene’s in the Hydrostone here. And, would you believe it, I haven’t been hard at work assessing the worthiness of Toronto’s vast croissant game. If you have any insights, please let me know in the comments below. Anyway, to avoid croissant-related disappointment, I’ve decided to abandon the tradition and start a new one with this Spinach Artichoke Strata.
Now, when it comes to Christmas morning breakfast, comfort is the name of the game. We’re not looking to reinvent the wheel, here. We’re looking for a worthy companion to your Irish coffee. Thankfully, you don’t have to look long and hard for breakfast items that are. So, with this simple road map in mind, I opted for the classic combo of spinach, artichoke and asiago. They play very nicely together in a dip, so why can’t they get along in a strata. Spoiler alert! They can.
Most spinach artichoke dips have either cream cheese or sour cream as their creamy base. Truly evil dips have both but I decided to go the cream cheese route. But, I didn’t use cream cheese because I am a rebel. No, truth be told, I actually like goat cheese more than cream cheese, so that’s what I went with. And because I am a pepper fanatic, I opted for a goat cheese log encrusted in black pepper.
For those of you who’ve never made a strata before, don’t panic. This puppy is dead simple to make. Really, you only need to toast some bread, saute some onions and spinach, and make a savory french toast batter. And then, the real magic happens overnight while you sleep, which I hope y’all are experts at. You leave strata to soak overnight so the delicious egg mixture has time to really saturate all those delicious toasty bread cubes. This will result in a rich, dense, and creamy strata, otherwise known as a Christmas morning miracle.
And speaking of those moist bread cubes. I used a honey oat bread for my strata. I like the way the sweetness of the bread contrasts with the umami of the melted asiago topping. But you can use any bread you wish. I would advise you go with something with a bit of heft, though. You want a bread that will stand up to the barrage of milk, eggs
Now, there is one optional spice in this Spinach Artichoke Strata. In my house, the cayenne pepper is not optional. Everything served in our home has to have at least a light kick to it. But if you live in a more tolerant (sane) household, feel free to knock the cayenne back or get rid of it altogether. And if you happen to be a heat fiend, be my guest and up the cayenne. But I will say that this dish is not supposed to be spicy. You really only want a whisper of heat, you don’t want to
I mentioned above that this Spinach Artichoke
So, that’s the scoop on this Spinach Artichoke Strata. It’s a make-ahead-meal dream and so very easy. Oh, and it’s delicious enough for Christmas-worthy feasting. I’m going to take a bit of a break to make merry with my nearest and dearest but I shall return in a few days with a New Year’s treat.
Spinach Artichoke Strata with Asiago
- 1 loaf honey oat bread cut into cubes
- 3 tbsp olive oil divided
- 140 (5 oz) grams goat cheese
- 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
- 8 eggs
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1/2 cup chives finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt divided
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
- 1 sweet onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 142 (5 oz) grams baby spinach
- 170 (6 fl. oz) mL marinated artichoke hearts drained
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter cubed
- 1 cup asiago cheese shredded
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the bread cubes in a large bowl and pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over top. Toss to coat. Place the bread cubes on a large baking tray and transfer to the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
- Crumble the goat cheese into a large bowl. Slowly whisk the milk into the goat cheese until smooth and well integrated. Crack the eggs into the milk mixture. Add the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon of the salt, cayenne, and chives. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet until shimmering. Add the onion and the remaining salt. Saute until just translucent. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add half of the spinach and saute until wilted. Add the remaining spinach and repeat. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
- Butter a 7×9 baking dish, set aside. Place the toasted bread, artichoke hearts, and the sauteed spinach in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Transfer the bread to the baking sheet and press into an even layer. Pour the egg mixture over top. Wrap the baking dish in plastic wrap and place in the fridge. Let chill overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Dot the surface of the strata with the butter. Sprinkle the top with the shredded asiago and transfer to the oven. Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.