When spring actually arrives I can hardly wait for the first Ontario asparagus. It tastes so much better than the imports. Oh, and an extra bonus, a basket of local Shiitake mushrooms.
Asparagus and Mushroom Strata
This dish can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or a light supper dish. Make it the night before and if you like, add cooked sausage or ham to the filling.
3 Tbsp butter
8 slices dry bread (use a grainy, good bakery bread, not too thinly sliced)
1 cup grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese
2 cups asparagus, in 1-inch pieces, steamed or roasted until tender
1 /2 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced (variety doesn’t matter)
1 /2 cup chives or green onion or wild leeks
2 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Lightly grease an 8-inch square pan with a small amount of butter. Use the remaining butter to spread on one side of each slice of bread. Place one layer of bread in baking dish, buttered side up. Sprinkle with half the cheese. Scatter half each of asparagus, mushrooms and chives over the cheese (and meat if using). Add remaining slices of bread and repeat.
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and seasoning. Pour mixture over bread layers, pushing the top layer down into the mixture, if necessary, to ensure all slices are coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
3. Remove from refrigerator about 45 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 350°F. Uncover and place strata in oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until it has puffed up and turned brown, and a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.
4. Remove from oven and let stand for about 15 minutes before serving.