Food & dining

seasonal recipe

Recipe for asparagus strata

Sally Pasley Vargas for the Boston Globe

Serves 6

With its layers of egg custard, cheese, and spring vegetables, this savory bread pudding, with a golden, crusty top, is an appealing brunch or light supper dish. Assemble and refrigerate it for up to a day.

Butter (for the dish)
2tablespoons unsalted butter
1medium leek, white part only, thinly sliced
1tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
1bunch slender asparagus, cut into 1-inch lengths
2tablespoons water
1cup frozen peas
5ounces fresh spinach, stemmed
cups half-and-half
1loaf (1 pound) firm white bread, crusts trimmed, cut into 1-inch cubes
8ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
¼cup chopped fresh parsley
2tablespoons chopped fresh chives

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leek, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the asparagus and water and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes more, or until the asparagus is almost tender. Add the frozen peas and spinach, and cook for 2 minutes, or until the spinach wilts.


3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly. Stir in the half-and-half and a generous pinch of salt. Add the bread, cheese, parsley, chives, and asparagus mixture. Blend thoroughly. Transfer to the baking dish.

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4. Bake the strata for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the custard is set and the top is golden. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces. Sally Pasley Vargas