It’s four weeks in to the start of the semester, and things are starting to ramp up at school. In some ways, it’s really interesting and rewarding: I really like my Medical Nutrition Therapy class (the nitty gritty science) and Nutritional Epidemiology. But in other ways (exams, projects, presentations), it’s exhausting. Which is why I so wish I could label this recipe in the “Quick & Easy” category… but I can’t. It’s a really good recipe (David gave it rave reviews), but the 8+ hours of chilling time required means that this falls squarely in the thinking-ahead category.
This dish is a nice combo of savory and sweet flavors. It’s almost like a brunch/dinner savory french toast. And after the ingredients are assembled and chilled, the pre-meal prep time is very minimal. The original recipe, from Cooking Light magazine, called for a cinnamon-raisin bread, but wanting to cut out some of the sweetness, I substituted whole white wheat bread instead. I also used the beautiful “apple pears” pictured above, and they held their shape very well throughout the soaking and cooking process.
For those of you not on the East Coast, Boston weather has been throwing us for a bit of a loop lately. While the fall produce is cropping up in stores, the air outside has been hot and muggy lately. A few weeks ago, when it was cool and rainy, I’d flagged this recipe in the latest issue Cooking Light so even though the weather had turned hot again by the time I made it, I cranked the oven anyway. Now that it’s turning cool again, this recipe might come in handy.
Pear and Gruyere Strata
Adapted from Cooking Light
4 cups sliced apple pears, about 2 whole ones
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
4 Tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
10 slices soft whole white wheat bread, crust removed
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Gruyere cheese
1 1/2 cups 1% milk
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup maple syrup (optional)
1) Combine pears, butter, and 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar in a large bowl. Toss gently to combine.
2) Arrange half of the bread in an 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray (although I used a smaller, deeper dish, about 9 x 7-inches). Spoon the pear mixture evenly over the bread and top with grated Gruyere cheese, spread in an even layer.
3) Combine the remaining 2 Tablespoons of granulated sugar, milk, eggs, and cinnamon in a separate bowl. Stir with a whisk. Pour milk mixture over bread, pressing down to submerge. Cover and chill 8 hours, or overnight.
4) Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Uncover dish and bake for 55 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes. Cut into pieces and serve. Drizzle with maple syrup, if desired.