The prettiest edible in my edible garden? Swiss chard. I cut some of the plant’s green ruffled leaves and bright red stems the other day, and added them to a standard sausage strata. The final product was almost too delicious. I ate six servings all by my lonesome.
You’ll find this strata is perfect for a Sunday brunch party. Just assemble it on Saturday, and then pop it in the fridge overnight. The following morning, bake it off about 1 hour before your guests arrive. And prepare yourself for a round of applause.
Here’s the simple step-by-step:
To start, grab a day-old baguette (about 12 ounces), and cut it in half.
Slice and dice half the baguette (about 6 ounces) into 1/2-inch pieces. Freeze the other half of the baguette. You won’t need it for this recipe.
Next, grab a medium-size onion, and dice it.
Then run to your garden or farmers’ market, and return with one pound of Swiss chard leaves which are still attached to their (brilliantly-hued) stems.
Cut the stems into 1/2-inch pieces, and roughly tear the leaves into 2-inch pieces.
Now grab a pound of sweet Italian sausage…
And cook it in a skillet, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon as it browns — about 5 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a bowl.
Put the chard stems, onion, and some salt and pepper in the skillet, and saute just until tender — about 5 minutes.
Then add the chard leaves and a splash of water or white wine, and saute just until the leaves wilt — about 2 minutes. Set aside to cool for a minute or two.
Meanwhile, crack 8 large eggs into a bright green bowl, and whisk them to smithereens.
Then whisk in 1 1/2 cups milk and 1 cup heavy cream.
There. Our prep work is complete. Let’s assemble our strata!
Tip half the sausage into a greased 9×13 baking dish…
Followed by half of the Swiss chard mixture…
And all of the diced baguette.
Top the baguette bits with the remaining sausage, followed by the remaining chard mixture.
Then add the eggy custard. Press everything down with a flat spatula to insure the bread makes good contact with the liquid.
To finish, sprinkle the top with 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese. What kind of cheese? Well, that’s entirely up to you. I used Asiago, but you could certainly substitute Swiss or Gruyere, or even Cheddar. If you’d like to ruin the dish, use Velveeta cheese. From a spray can.
Cover the dish with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge overnight. During this time, the baguette will absorb all of the glorious custard sauce.
Bake on the center rack of a preheated 375°F oven until a skewer inserted in the center of the dish comes out clean — 45 minutes.
I have every intention of serving this savory poetry when friends Peter, Betsy, Kent, and Helen come for brunch next week. For such a simple dish, it’s rapturously delicious!
Here’s the printable: