Here is a good dish that is good for brunches, potlucks, or even just to deal with leftovers. It a strata, or savory bread pudding. Basically, eggs, milk, bread, with ham, cheese and a green vegetable. What’s great about this is you put it together ahead of time, and can serve either hot or room temperature. And of course, very pretty. For this time of year, use broccoli, along with prosciutto (get the imported kind from AJ’s). For a springtime brunch, use asparagus. Use a good grating cheese, Parmesan or what ever you like (or have), plus (what make it really festive) real prosciutto. AJ’s is a good source, get the imported Parma… it’s expensive, but you only need a bit.
Also, for a less festive occasion (but still real good food), use a leftover bread, some leftover chicken or sliced ham, a leftover (or thawed frozen) vegetable… use about 1/3 of the recipe and cook in 5x9 loaf pan.
The Gadget: a scale (digital or not) to figure out quantities.
Asparagus (or Broccoli) and Prosciutto Strata
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
OR ~1 ½ pounds broccoli crowns, use just the florets (1-2 inch pieces)
¾ pound crusty, artisan-style bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (1 loaf or a little less)
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut into ½-inch strips
5 ounces parmesan, asiago, or ramono cheese (or a blend), shredded
½ cup chopped chives
6 large eggs
3 ½ cups milk (2% or whole)
Zest from 1 or 2 lemons
½ teaspoon salt (less if you cheese is particularly salty)
½ teaspoon pepper
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add vegetable of choice and cook until bright green and barely tender, about 2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
Oil a 9x13 pan (spray with Pam). Spread half the bread cubes, top with half the prosciutto, vegetable, cheese, and chives. Repeat with remaining bread, prosciutto, vegetable, cheese and chives.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until blended. Add milk, zest, salt and pepper and whisk to blend. Pour evenly over the layered ingredients. Cover and chill at least one hour, overnight is OK.
Pre-heat oven to 350oF. Bake strata uncovered until set and top is lightly browned, 40 to 50 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.
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