How would you describe strata? Savoury bread pudding? Bread bake? Savoury french toast casserole? Whatever you call this, this Chicken and Spinach Strata is dinner in a snap and complete meal with 10 minutes of prep. Make individual servings or one large dish to share.
This Chicken and Spinach Strata is a great end of week meal. Or a great start of week meal to use up leftovers from the week before! The only ingredients in this recipe you actually need to have are egg, milk and bread (stale is fine!). Everything else is optional or use what you have. No cheese? No problem. Just up the salt a bit to make up for it. Only got ricotta? Perfect. Dollop it in the layers. No chicken? No worries. Make it without, or add more veggies, or how about using ham, bacon or even a can of tuna? (Just make sure to drain it).
This strata version I have shared is a Chicken, Spinach and Cheese one because I was feeling super lazy and didn’t want to do any chopping (well, other than the bread – though I was tempted just to tear it into chunks). I used frozen spinach because that’s what I had but you can use fresh spinach or any other vegetables you have that will cook in 30 minutes in the oven. The only thing to remember is to get rid of excess liquid which means for leafy greens and watery vegetables like capsicum (bell peppers), you should fry them quickly before layering them in the strata otherwise your egg mixture won’t set because it will become too watery.
I made one big one which takes 30 minutes to bake, but you could also make this in ramekins (4 x 1 1/2 cup capacity) and it will bake in only 15 minutes.
This is my ultimate midweek dinner in a snap. What’s your speedy midweek meal tip?
- 7 cups french bread , cut into 2 cm / 1 inch cubes
- 1 cup grated cheese (any melting cheese is fine - tasty, cheddar, mozzarella)
- 250 g / 8 oz frozen spinach (2 packets, chopped)
- 1 cup shredded or diced chicken , or any other cooked protein, ham or bacon
- Parsley , finely chopped (garnish - optional)
- 6 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups milk
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- 1 tsp salt
- Black pepper
Defrost the spinach in the microwave (4 minutes on high), then squeeze out excess water.
Make Egg mixture: Place ingredients into a bowl and whisk until combined.
Spread half the bread into the base of a baking dish 25cm x 25cm (10" x 10").
Layer with the spinach, then chicken then top with half the cheese.
Top with remaining bread. Squish the bread down to compress (this helps the egg mixture to be soaked up evenly).
Pour over egg mixture - try to cover all the bread evenly.
Top with remaining cheese, then squish down to help the bread soak up the egg mixture.
Set aside for at least 15 minutes, preferably 30 minutes.
To freeze: Cover tightly and place in freezer. Defrost completely before cooking.
Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil, then bake for a further 10 minutes until golden on top.
Serve immediately, sprinkled with parsley if desired.
1. This recipe works well with stale or fresh bread. If you use stale bread, you must put it aside for 30 minutes before baking to give the egg mixture a chance to seep into the bread. If you use (reasonably) fresh bread then baking it straight away is ok (but still preferable to set aside for a while).
2. Bread comes in all sizes so it is a bit hard to measure exactly how much you need. Basically you need 2 x enough to cover the base of a square baking dish approximately 25cm x 25cm (10 " x 10") (i.e. one for bottom layer, one for top)
3. You can substitute the frozen spinach with fresh spinach. Shred, then pan fry briefly to remove liquid before layering.
4. If you use bacon instead of chicken, dice it then fry it first before layering. And halve the amount of salt in the Egg Mixture.
5. If you use mozzarella cheese you will need to increase the salt by 1/4 tsp (because it is not salty).
6. You can make 4 individual servings rather than 1 big one. Use 1 1/2 to 2 cup capacity ramekins. They will bake in 15 minutes.
7. This is not an overnight version. If you want to make this the day before, add 1 egg and 1/4 cup of milk, otherwise it will be too dry.