A savoury and comforting make-ahead dish with layers of whole grain bread, swiss chard, and gruyere cheese baked in an eggy custard.
Somehow the equinox slipped past me this year. Maybe because the weather in Stockholm has been somewhat autumny for a while now. Or maybe because I’ve had other things on my mind. But it surprised me to look at the calendar the other day and realize it had come and gone.
I’ve been really looking forward to the autumn this year, for the time of year when I can break into leggings and baggy sweaters. Dressing myself for work and social occasions has so far been a challenge that has meant repeated visits to the maternity department at H&M. But my cupboard is already full of leggings and baggy sweaters (which I hope will still fit), so I’m anxiously awaiting just the right amount of chill in the air to pull them out.
Also, I’ve been looking forward to warmer, heartier meals. Although I’m mostly past my food aversions (beets, black eyed peas, and some dishes with corn are still out, and it’s been touch and go with avocados) and I wouldn’t say I have any real cravings, I definitely have a preference for warm food.
I first made this dish back in August when I was still trying to trick myself into eating vegetables and protein. But I’ve made it again and again, and on weeks when I’ve done a bad job of weekly lunch prep on the weekend, a foil-wrapped square of this Swiss chard strata pulled from the freezer on my way out the door and heated up in the office lunch room is pretty much the best thing ever.
I tend to eat lunch quite a bit later than the other people in my office because I go swimming on my lunch breaks, so my routine on these days is to take my computer down to the lunch room and sit quietly eating while working away. But the smell of this strata always brings curious colleagues drifting past, and last week one bold gent scooped a taste right from my plate and exclaimed, “it tastes even better than it smells!”
So here’s why I love strata:
- It’s a perfect make-ahead dish, whether you’re making it for a lazy weekend brunch or to tuck into the freezer for easy lunches or dinners.
- It’s loaded with protein! There are 9 eggs in this dish, plus nearly a liter of milk, plus a good amount of cheese.
- It’s an excellent vehicle for sneaky vegetables.
- It’s warm and comforting and all kinds of delicious.
Trust me, you’re gonna love it!
Although I strive to keep things as simple as possible here on The Muffin Myth, I hope you’ll forgive the extra step of sautéing the chard. It’s well worth it both in terms of flavour, as the chard gets nicely seasoned in the pan, and in texture, as it cooks a good amount of water out of the crunchy greens. Then, layered into a buttered baking dish with cubes of wholegrain bread (slightly stale is preferable, though not essential) and gruyere and Parmesan cheese, soaked in an eggy custard and then baked until puffed and golden, you’ve got make-ahead brunch / lunch / dinner perfection.
Swiss chard is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the same family as beets, spinach and quinoa – the chenopod family. Rich in phytonutrients, chard provides a host of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. It’s an excellent source of vitamin C, E, beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A) manganese and zinc. It’s also a good source of bone-healthy calcium and vitamin K, as well as potassium, vitamin E, and iron. Rich in dietary fiber and with a good amount of protein, chard works to moderate the passage of food through the digestive tract and stabilize blood sugar.
One year ago: Kale and Walnut Pesto and Orange-Carrot-Miso-Ginger Sunshine Sauce
Two years ago: Kale and Black Bean Breakfast Tacos
Three years ago: 100% Whole Wheat Bread
Four years ago: Cobb Salad
Five years ago: Maple Walnut Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large bunch Swiss chard, washed and roughly chopped
- 8 cups cubed whole grain bread in one-inch cubes (I used a sourdough rye)
- 2 cups coarsely grated gruyere
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 9 large eggs
- 2 Tbsp smooth dijon mustard
- 2¾ cups milk
- 1 tsp salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Sauté the Swiss chard until wilted and the stems are slightly browned. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
- Generously butter a 9x13 casserole dish.
- Layer one-third of the bread cubes over the bottom of the dish. It won't fully cover the bottom, but this is ok.
- Layer one-third of the sautéd chard over top of the bread, followed by one-third of the gruyere, and one-third of the Parmesan.
- Repeat these layers two more times.
- Whisk eggs together with Dijon mustard, then whisk in the milk, salt, and pepper.
- Pour the custard over top of the strata layers. Cover with plastic wrap, and set in the fridge overnight or for at least one hour, but up to one day.
- When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F /180°C.
- Bake the strata for 45-55 minutes, until it is puffed and golden on top, and no longer so jiggly in the middle (a little jiggle is ok as it will continue to cook as it cools).
- Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
-Any sharp cheese can be used in place of the gruyere, but it really is delicious.
-I don't have a lot of fridge space, so I often just soak on the counter for an hour before baking. This is totally fine.
-Cooled strata can be sliced into squares, wrapped in foil, and frozen for quick and easy meals. They make for a great packed lunch.
This recipe is riffed from another of my favourites, Sweet Potato Strata with Smoked Gouda and Leeks.