This healthy yet decadent-tasting strata is studded with winter squash, mushrooms and tender greens.
1 bunch hearty greens, such as kale or Swiss chard
½ pound mushrooms, such as Crimini, washed and sliced
½ Delicata squash, peeled, seeded and diced into 1-inch pieces
½ loaf Pain au Levain bread (preferably stale!), cut into 1-inch-thick slices
1-2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
½ cup Gruyère cheese, grated
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 cups milk
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1. Bring a medium or large pot of water to a boil, salt generously and add the greens. Cook 2-3 minutes, until tender but still colorful. Transfer to a bowl of cold water, then drain and squeeze out excess water. Chop coarsely and set aside. Cut one of the garlic cloves in half and rub the slices of bread with the cut side. Then mince all of the garlic. Cut the bread into 1-inch squares.
2. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a heavy skillet and add the squash. Cook, stirring often, until it begins to soften, and add the thyme, garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Then add the mushrooms and cook an additional 1-2 minutes, or until the mushrooms are tender and fragrant. Stir in the greens, toss together and remove from the heat.
3. Preheat the oven to 350°. Oil or butter a 2-quart baking dish. In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, the mushrooms, squash and greens, and the two cheeses and toss together. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
4. Beat together the eggs and milk. Add salt to taste and a few twists of the pepper mill, and pour over the bread mixture. Let sit for 30 minutes before baking so that the bread can absorb some of the liquid.
5. Place in the oven and bake 40-50 minutes, until puffed and browned. Remove from the oven and serve hot or warm.