With the holidays coming up soon, you might find yourself planning brunch for a crowd. Might I suggest this Overnight Mushroom Fontina Strata? If you haven’t had strata before, it’s kind of like a cross between French toast and stuffing; often served savory (although occasionally sweet!), they’re fantastic for entertaining because they’ll feed a crowd and you can prep everything the night before.
A basic strata starts with bread, custard, and cheese. Some add bacon, sausage, and other meats, but since this is a vegetarian food blog, we’re going to go with veggies instead: onion and mushrooms, to be exact. To add some depth, we sauté the vegetables until they’re nicely browned and deglaze the pan with white wine.
Because I’ve got a thyme plant growing on the patio, I opted to add a tablespoon of thyme leaves, but rosemary or even sage would be just fine too. If you don’t have fresh herbs on hand, use a tablespoon of dried.
Fontina is a nice all-purpose cheese and I find it especially suited for stratas–it adds flavor without overshadowing the other ingredients; it melts without getting too melty. If you can’t find Fontina, try using Gruyere instead.
Once assembled, cover the casserole dish and let it sit in the fridge overnight. This allows the bread soak in all the custard before baking, which is kind of essential. In the morning, all you’ll have to do is pop the dish in the oven and wait patiently while your strata bakes to perfection.
Photos by Sunny Frantz
Overnight Mushroom Fontina Strata
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 1 pound white or cremini mushrooms sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 6-7 cups stale French or sourdough bread cut into 1-inch cubes (enough to cover 9 x 13-inch baking dish - about a 12-ounce baguette)
- 1 cup shredded Fontina cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 6 eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt; cook until the onions are softened, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and garlic; cook until the mushrooms release their liquid, the liquid cooks off, and the mushrooms are nicely browned, about 15 minutes.
- Pour in the white wine, increase the heat to high and deglaze. Cook until the wine has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place the bread in a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Layer the mushrooms on top, then the cheeses.
- Whisk together the eggs, milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Pour the mixture evenly over the strata.
- Cover the casserole dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- In the morning, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Take the strata out of the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Remove the plastic wrap from the baking dish. Bake the strata for 30-40 minutes, or until the custard is set and the top is browned and crisp.