April 15, 2016

Mostly Ham and Asparagus Strata


When it comes to meal planning lately, I feel that I've found a healthy and successful balance of the good, bad and the ugly for myself and for my family. Raw fruit and veggies are making daily appearances on the snack and meal rotation and I'm enjoying them very much (my kids are starting to come around too).




I've also been relying on make-ahead meals for all times of the day. Pre-made casseroles are how I've been saving some precious, weeknight time (especially on our hectic soccer practice nights!) and preparing a meal I feel good about for my family. 


One of my favorite make-ahead meals is a cheesy, rich strata. A strata is basically a savory bread pudding. 


It's made with good, crusty French bread and topped with any variation of vegetables, cheese, herbs and meat. The bread base of the strata then soaks for hours in the mixture of milk and beaten egg.


When it comes out of the oven, you get to enjoy an amazing, flavorful, satisfying casserole for your meal. I've served savory strata at all times of the day, and it's always a big hit. 

Bread, cheese, eggs and your favorite toppings mixed all through, who can resist such a thing? 



For this dinner strata, I used beautiful, seasonal, fresh asparagus. I briefly blanched it ahead of time to make sure it would be cooked through when the dish was served. 


This recipe is designed to fill a 2 quart baking pan, but my kids won't touch asparagus. They do, however, love ham and cheese. So, I split the ingredients between two smaller baking dishes and I only used asparagus on the grown-up portion. 


I'm all about win-win meal service when it's possible. My kids are pretty picky and sometimes trying to find a sensible middle-ground between my love of ingredients that they hate is difficult. Trust me, the meal-planning struggle is real. 

These casseroles soaked in the egg mixture for 6 hours before going into the oven.

If your family is a fan of the basic ingredients in strata, you can substitute the toppings to suit your tastes. The preparation method stays the same. 

I also have some delicious recipes for dessert-style strata that are perfect for breakfast or dessert. I'll be sharing some soon in future posts!


This recipe will make 6 servings.

Ham and Asparagus Strata

  • one loaf of crusty, French bread, torn into bits
  • 1 1/2 cups cubed ham
  • 1/2 pound of fresh asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 1 (8 oz bag) of shredded Gouda or other cheese
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 - 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • a few good dashes of salt and pepper
1. Place your torn bits of bread in a lightly greased, 2-quart baking dish. 

2. In a large sauce pan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Place your trimmed asparagus in the pan and blanch for about 3 minutes. Remove with tongs to a paper towel to drain. Once it is slightly cooled, slice the asparagus into 1-inch pieces. 

3. Sprinkle the ham, asparagus and cheese over the bread bits evenly. 

4. In a medium-size bowl, mix the remaining ingredients together. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread layer in the baking dish. Cover and allow to chill for 2 -24 hours in the refrigerator. 

5. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 40 minutes or until it is set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 

6. Serve warm and enjoy!





10 comments:

  1. My husband loves a good bread pudding, I bet he would love this savoury version too. I am drooling over all the asparagus and cheese here.
    Have a wonderful weekend!
    Angie

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  2. This is so much more appealing to me that's sweet bread puddings! I can't wait to try it, and think of all the different variations to be made with this. Have a great weekend!

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    1. Hi David, thank you If you make one, I hope you post your version. I know you will put together something delicious! :)

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  3. A strata is a perfect bake-ahead meal. This looks awesome!

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  4. this is my kind of meal--easy to prepare, an all-in-one meal! SO much room for variations too. love it.

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    1. We are completely hooked on make-ahead meals, Grace! Thank you!

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  5. This looks like the perfect weeknight meal Marcelle, my daughter was real picky growing up and she has now mostly grown out of it. Have a great week.

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    1. Hi Cheri, thank you! My 9 year old is getting more adventurous, but the 3 year old is another story :)

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