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Breakfast Strata with Greens, Gruyere, and Sausage

December 21, 2008


Lest you think I’ve been sitting in my kitchen for the past few weeks covered in chocolate, cream and…more chocolate, I’m here to tell you today that – well – that’s only partially true. I did make something for breakfast that I wanted to share with all of you; something of the savory persuasion that would be perfect for Christmas morning.




Imagine it: Christmas morning, carols are playing on the stereo; you’ve already gone through a few cups of coffee as you and your loved ones have opened your gifts. Maybe the outside trees are blanketed in snow (thanks to a recent well-timed pre-Christmas snowstorm!) Everyone is feeling joyful, relaxed, and a little bit sugared up from the candy and chocolates that were found tucked into stockings. It’s starting to feel like breakfast time, and – lucky you – you’ve already planned ahead. You assembled this strata the night before, and now all that you need to do Christmas morning is bake it!


How excited everyone will be when they tuck into a thick, hearty slice of this strata: crusty pieces of bread held together by a dijon-mustard-spiked egg custard, melty Gruyere cheese, sweet onions, sauteed greens, and – if you like – savory Italian sausage. I’ve made it with and without the sausage, and both ways are equally delicious.


This is what we’ll be having at my parent’s house Christmas morning, paired with a citrus salad with mint sugar. And, if there are leftovers, the strata makes a perfect lunch or light dinner, too.

This will probably be my last post before heading out of town for the holiday, so – I wish you all a lovely holiday! May it be filled with peace, joy, love, and plenty of good things to eat. 🙂

Other Christmas breakfast ideas:

Pumpkin Spice Scones

Sausage, Cheddar and Apple Strata

Breakfast Crostini with Poached Egg, Wilted Spinach, and Bacon

Herb-Baked Eggs

Soft Scrambled Eggs with Fresh Ricotta and Chives


Breakfast Strata with Greens, Gruyere, and Sausage

Adapted from Gourmet, February 2003

The original recipe uses frozen spinach, which you can certainly do to cut prep time. I’ve also used a big bunch of dark, leafy greens, like collards, swiss chard or kale. If you do use frozen spinach, make sure you squeeze it dry after it’s thawed, before adding it to the pan with the onion. The strata is equally good with or without the sausage.

This is a great recipe to prep the night before, then just bake it in the morning. Perfect for holidays or for entertaining.

view printable recipe


1 large bunch of dark leafy greens (such as collards, chard, or kale), OR one (10-oz) package frozen spinach, thawed
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (1 large)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 cups cubed (1 inch) French or Italian bread (I usually use a 1-lb loaf, as I’ve found this yields 8 cups)
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage (optional)
6 oz coarsely grated Gruyère (2 cups)
2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 cup)
2 3/4 cups milk
9 large eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (sometimes I use whole-grain mustard for a variation)


Wash and finely chop the greens (if you’re using frozen spinach, squeeze handfuls of it dry and then finely chop.)

Cook the onion in the butter in a large saucepan until it begins to soften. Add the sausage, if using, and cook until the sausage is no longer pink. Add 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper and the ground nutmeg, and cook 1 minute. Add the greens and cook until they’re wilted and tender (if you’re using frozen spinach, this will only take about 1 minute; if you’re using another kind of dark leafy green, it will take a little longer.) Remove from the heat.

Butter a 3-qt gratin dish or other large ceramic baking dish. Spread 1/3 of the bread cubes in the bottom of the dish, top with 1/3 of the spinach mixture, then with 1/3 of both of the cheeses. Repeat the layering 2 more times, ending with the cheeses.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, mustard, and the remaining 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Pour evenly over the strata and cover with foil or plastic wrap. Chill overnight in the refrigerator, or at least 8 hours.

The next morning, let the strata stand at room temperature to take the chill off a bit, about 30 minutes. You can do this while you’re preheating the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake the strata, uncovered, in the middle of a 350 degree F oven for 45-55 minutes, until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through. Let it stand 5 minutes before serving.

Makes 6-8 servings.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. December 21, 2008 11:37 am

    Oh, how I wish *this* is what just came out of my oven. It looks delicious!!!

  2. December 21, 2008 12:20 pm

    Thanks for this fantastic reminder that I actually have to make something for Christmas morning! Can’t just be eating the big Christmas dinner now! Might make this – thanks!

  3. December 21, 2008 3:10 pm

    Amy: This looks incredibly delicious, especially alongside a zippy citrus salad. Enjoy it on Christmas morning. Happy holidays!

  4. December 21, 2008 5:07 pm


    This looks amazing. It would be perfect for Christmas morning…or even for a Christmas Eve meal!

  5. December 21, 2008 6:09 pm

    sounds delicious! And now I am all geared up for holiday mornings – here is what I can’t figure out, what differentiates a strata, from a savory bread pudding and a dressing? Similar technique-are they all the same?

  6. December 21, 2008 9:26 pm

    Looks delicious. Thanks so much for sharing. Happy Holidays!

  7. December 22, 2008 8:38 am

    gorgeous!! hmm, maybe i’ll quarranting the loaf of bread we have sitting out 🙂

  8. December 22, 2008 8:47 am

    Forget about Christmas morning, I want some strata now! 😀

  9. December 26, 2008 6:02 pm

    i made this for xmas morning and it was a complete success. Thank you!

  10. January 7, 2009 8:06 pm

    I love stratas, and this is going on my must-bake-immediately list. Sounds heavenly!

  11. January 31, 2009 1:54 pm

    This was delicious – thank you!

  12. October 19, 2012 3:07 pm

    How long can it sit in the fridge before having to bake it? Can it be assembled on a Monday night and baked Thursday morning? Or will it go bad before then?

  13. Jane permalink
    March 3, 2013 9:49 pm

    I served this for brunch this morning. I used mustard greens from my CSA. It was absolutely delicious.

  14. Maggie E.m permalink
    May 30, 2014 5:22 pm

    This was absolutely delicious! Thanks for the recipe.

  15. Carolyn Sawicki permalink
    December 22, 2014 8:56 pm

    Looking forward to making this for Christmas morning. I’m more excited about eating this than opening presents!

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