Spinach and Pancetta Strata for Recipes to Rival

  This Month's challenge at Recipes to Rival was Spinach and Pancetta Strata.  Selected and hosted by Temperance at High on the Hog.  A perfect choice, seeing how over the years I have collected countless recipes for Strata, meaning to make it, but somehow never have.  So, this was just the push needed.

On the other hand, I don't know why it rarely seems to work out that I just do it by the book, use every ingredient called for, and FOLLOW DIRECTIONS.  Well, first off, pancetta does not seem to be an ingredient in our Natural Foods Store.  And, I prefer not to buy pork products from other sources.  Therefore, we (in the royal sense) used prosciutto instead.  Also, as you may be sick of hearing, I have certain greens to use up every week from my CSA box.  Those did not include spinach this month.  Everything else, yes.  So, we were creative here as well, using mizuna. The Good Lord saw fit to give us such an amazing selection in the greens department of creation.  What variety!  I just love it.  The milk around our house is often soy milk, and as for the bread, what I had cubed in my freezer was pretty close, Kalamata olive and Rosemary French, rather than Italian.  But, hey France is very near to Italy. And those extra yummy little bits could only help, right?  Then, I'm all ready to go and discover, oh woe, no onion at hand.  But, we had some lovely shallots.  All my substitutions worked out well, still here is the recipe as given:

Spinach and Pancetta Strata
Courtesy Giada De Laurentiis Show: Everyday Italian Episode: My Family's Favorites

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 (10-ounce) box chopped frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 cups cubed Italian bread, from a 1-pound loaf
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
3 cups whole milk
10 large eggs

Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until crisp and golden, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a bowl. Add the onion to the pan drippings in the same skillet and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the spinach and garlic. Saute over medium-low heat until the garlic is tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, nutmeg, and the cooked pancetta.

Place half of the bread cubes in a buttered 3-quart baking dish. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the bread, then top with half of the spinach mixture. Repeat layering.

Whisk the milk, eggs, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a large bowl and pour evenly over the strata. Chill the strata, covered with plastic wrap, at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake strata uncovered until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 40 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

I cut this in half as Temperance also did, and it would serve 4 easily.  The only change (ANOTHER ONE??) I would make is to leave it sit overnight, as there was still liquid at the bottom after 7 hours.  Or, cut back on the milk, and I would use real milk next time also.  At any rate, we both enjoyed this homey, comfort food type dish. I liked the prosciutto and mizuna in there, nicely accented with nutmeg.

1 comment:

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