Ham & Asparagus Strata with 3 Cheeses
What do you do when you have a bunch of leftover ham from Easter dinner, some fresh asparagus, and half a loaf of old bread that?
Make Strata. It’s hot, it’s comforting … it’s wonderful. You can make it ahead of time and bake it when you’re ready to eat it, or you can cook it right away. Strata works well for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s a very flexible dish too … toss in more of this and less of that, play with different cheeses or vegetables or meat … pretty much whatever you have on hand that you want to toss in. Strata doesn’t care. Strata will make it all good.
Ham & Asparagus Strata with Havarti, Blue, and Parmesan Cheeses
- 5 cups of bread cubes (any kind will do … I used a bit of French bread + some Spinach Peasant Bread)
- 2 cups of milk (I used 2%, but skim or whole milk works fine too)
- 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2/3 cup red onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 cups of chopped asparagus
- Red Robin (or Red Magic) Seasoning (or salt) & freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 1/4 cup diced ham
- 4 eggs (to cut the fat/cholesterol, use Egg Beaters or substitute egg whites in place of some – or all – of the yolks)
- A small bunch of fresh chives, snipped (about 2 Tablespoons?)
- Several fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 1 fresh garlic scape, snipped
- 1 Tablespoon blue cheese crumbles
- 1 cup shredded Havarti cheese
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray and put the bread cubes in the pan. Pour the milk over the crumbs and let sit for 15 minutes or so, gently stirring it up every once in a while to make sure all the bread gets a chance to soak up plenty of milk.
- Now, while your bread is soaking, put a bit of extra virgin olive oil in a pan, swirl it around, heat to medium high heat, and sautee the onion, garlic, and asparagus briefly or until the onion just begins to look a little cooked. The asparagus should still be crisp. Season lightly with the seasoning (or salt) and pepper, being careful to go light on the salt because we will be adding ham and cheese later …
- Add the wine to the pan with the vegies and sautee for just a couple minutes longer or until most of the liquid has evaporated. The asparagus should still be a little crisp, if possible. If not, don’t worry over it too much. Strata doesn’t care.
- In a small bowl, whisk the eggs well, then toss in some chopped chives, basil leaves, and garlic scapes, then stir in the ham as well.
- Fold the egg/ham mixture into the milk-saturated bread in the casserole dish.
- Pour the vegies over the casserole too, and fold those in as well. While you’re doing that, sprinkle with blue cheese crumbles.
- Mix the Havarti & Parmesan cheeses and separate in half. Take one half of the cheese and sprinkle that half over the casserole, then fold it into the mixture, making sure that cheese taste gets permeated into the whole dish.
- Use the reserved half of the cheese to sprinkle on top. (You can pre-make the strata to this point and keep it in the fridge till you’re ready to bake it.)
- Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 60 to 80 minutes or until the strata is set (till it springs back when you touch it and isn’t all runny when you cut into it). If you are starting from a refrigerated strata, you will have to cook it a while longer.
- If you want to serve it in wedges, let it set up for about 10 – 15 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve garnished with fresh basil leaves or fresh chives or pretty little wild purple violets. Or scoop out servings with a spoon while it’s steaming hot and don’t bother with the garnish. Either way, it’s yummy. Strata doesn’t care.