1 tablespoon olive oil
5 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
1 package fresh spinach, washed, chopped, squeezed dry or
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 2/3 cups half and half
½ small onion, sliced thin
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 tablespoons butter, softened
½ cup white wine
8 slices of stale hard Italian or French bread
salt and pepper
1. In a greased 8 or 9 inch square baking pan, arrange 4 slice of the hard stale Italian/French bread in a single layer. Spread the 1 tablespoon of the softened butter on 4 slices of the bread in baking dish and then spread the other 1 tablespoon of the softened butter on 4 slices outside the dish. Set aside.
2. In a 10-inch frying pan add olive oil and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place on top of the stove under a low flame. Sauté onions, garlic and tomatoes until tender. Add spinach. Cook everything until hot, stirring well. Set aside in a bowl.
3. Meanwhile add wine to pan. Increase heat to medium-high; simmer until reduced to ¼ cup, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
4. In a bowl whisk eggs then add the wine, while continually whisking, add the half and half and dash in some salt and pepper
5. Top the 4 slices of buttered bread with spinach mixture and then top with half of the grated cheese. Arrange remaining 4 bread slices in a single layer over the cheese and repeat the layer of spinach and cheese.
6. Pour the egg mixture evenly over everything and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerator at least 2 hours or overnight.
7. Oven 350 degrees. Remove dish from refrigerator and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Uncover and bake for 45 minutes or until puffed and edges have pulled away slightly from sides of dish. Let it sit for a few minutes before cutting.
8. ENJOY – Good enough to gain weight for!
I have a problem with throwing food out. This of course is my parents’ fault. They were the generation of The Great Depression in America during the 1930’s. Believe me when I say I heard all the stories. To this day, my mom still drinks black coffee because of the shortage of sugar back then. I bought a book for my mom a long time ago called “Grandma Remembers” with empty spaces for her to fill in information. I wanted to have some written history of our family. She never wrote any information down in the blank areas where the questions were listed in the book. During my visits to mom, I would ask a few questions from the book and write in her answers myself to make it easier. Sample questions were: “What was your favorite toy when you were small?” “What was your favorite meal for dinner?” “What did you get for Christmas?” My mom gave me the same answer to every question I asked. “I didn’t have a toy, we were poor”. “We were poor, and I ate whatever my mother gave me”. “We didn’t get Christmas presents; we were poor”. Because she was poor, it sounded like she had no life. Here was this book of memories for me to pass on to my children and generations to come, and every question was answered with “We were poor.” Mom and I laughed so hard together at her answers when we read them back. The reason I am telling you this story is that my mom was poor (I know you got that by now), and it was a sin to waste food since there was a time when there wasn’t any food to waste. She brought me up with those values; don’t throw out food.
This recipe was created because I had some leftover Italian bread, cooked spinach and cheese that I needed to use soon. Since I didn’t want to throw out these leftovers, I started pouring through my cookbooks and recipes for ideas. My collection is big and diversified. Thank goodness I have a great memory, and I remembered that one of my Italian cookbooks had a dish called strata which reminded me of a quiche-like dish. The combination I used for this recipe was the yellow eggs, green spinach and red tomatoes, and this made a delicious colorful dish. I prepared the dish and let it sit overnight for dinner the next evening. The reaction from my family was, at first, very unhappy to have eggs for dinner, especially since there was no meat in this recipe. This was a double whammy as far as the guys were concerned. But believe it or not, my husband loved it and my daughter, too. I am a huge vegetable fan, so I loved it also.
This is a great dish and a great way to use your leftovers and then no food is wasted. There are people who never waste food and never forget when their mother was poor.