Kale and Winter Squash Strata [recipe]

I am a huge fan of breakfast, I  wish we could have breakfast meals all day long!  It is one of the main reasons I wanted to get chickens, in order to have fresh eggs every day.

This recipe came from needing to use up everything in the fridge.  We had an abundance of eggs from the chickens coming into great egg production, and some great leftover sourdough bread and it has become a family favorite in our meal rotation.
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It is a crowd pleaser for my family as dinner, for lunch, and as it was originally intended…brunch! This requires some time but can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake.  Each slice is packed with flavor.  I think the squash nicely shines through as a sweet and nutty flavor.  It fills you up, it feels generally healthy to eat, that is of course if you’re on the egg is healthy side of things….

Kale and Winter Squash Strata

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
  • 2 pounds winter squash, we used Hubbard, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced, plus 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 pound kale, ribs discarded and leaves chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme, or sage, or savory
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, of gluten free flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream or milk
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche or yougurt, (or in a pinch, more milk)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 8 large eggs
  • One 3/4-pound multigrain sourdough loaf  or any kind of multigrain baguette, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Procedure

1. Preheat the oven to 425° and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 25 minutes, tossing once, until the squash is just tender. 

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2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the sliced onions, season with salt and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 25 minutes.

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3. Set aside in a bowl or in the 9 by 13 in casserole dish you will cook the strata in. 

4. In the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering. Add the kale, garlic, and 1 teaspoon of the thyme and season with salt. Cook over medium/high heat, tossing, until the kale is wilted and just tender, about 5 minutes.

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5. Move the kale to the same vessel as the onions.

6. In a medium saucepan, melt the 2 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Add the chopped onion and the remaining 1 teaspoon of thyme and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes. Add the flour and cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until a light golden paste forms, 3 minutes. Whisk in 1 cup of the milk and cook, whisking, until very thick and no floury taste remains, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the rest of the milk or cream, crème fraîche or yougrt, sugar, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and the remaining 1 1/2 cups of milk. Congratulations you have made a béchamel!  Let this béchamel cool.

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7. When cool, whisk and beat the eggs into the béchamel in the saucepan.

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8. Pour into the pan you will be cooking the strata in, and add the bread mix well with the vegetables. Let stand for 30 minutes, pressing down the bread occasionally.  Now, you can place into the fridge, covered,  until you are ready to bake or, bake immediately.  Try and keep the ingredients mostly submerged in the béchamel/eggy mixture so that they cook but don’t burn.

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9. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and bake the strata for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until just set. Increase the oven temperature to 475°. Sprinkle the Parmigiano on the strata and bake for about 10 minutes more, until the top is lightly browned. Let the strata stand for 15 minutes before serving.

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