This savory leek-mushroom strata is the perfect side for a prime rib roast or pork loin. The heartiness of the whole-wheat bread adds richness to the bread pudding. This leek-mushroom strata could easily work as a main dish, accompanied by a salad of lightly dressed mixed greens. SERVES 6 TO 8
• 4 cups 1/2-inch cubed day-old whole-wheat country loaf bread
• 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
• 1 cup hot water
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 2 cups sliced crimini (brown) mushrooms
• 2 medium leeks, trimmed, halved and finely chopped
• 1 garlic clove, pressed or minced
• 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
• 1/4 cup white wine
• 6 eggs
• 1 cup whole milk
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper
• 1 1/2 cups grated fontina cheese
1. Spread bread cubes evenly on a cookie sheet and place in a 250-degree oven for 20 minutes. Bread should feel dry, but not be allowed to brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
2. Place dried porcini mushrooms in a small bowl and add hot water; place a smaller bowl or coffee mug on top to keep mushrooms submerged. Allow mushrooms to reconstitute and soften for 30 minutes; remove from water and chop. Place a paper towel over the top of a measuring cup and slowly pour reserved mushroom liquid over towel; discard towel and set liquid aside.
3. Add butter to a large skillet and place over medium-high heat. When melted, add crimini mushrooms, leeks, garlic and thyme. Sauté until mushrooms and leeks are cooked, about 7 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so leeks and garlic don’t burn. Add wine and scrape bottom of pan with utensil to remove any browned bits. Remove from heat and set aside.
4. In a large mixing bowl, add eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Whisk well to incorporate. Add mushroom-leek mixture, cheese, 1/2 cup of reserved mushroom liquid and bread; mix well to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes so that bread soaks up some of the liquid. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
5. Butter a 7-inch by 11-inch or 8-inch square baking dish and add strata mixture. Bake leek-mushroom strata, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Check doneness by inserting a knife in center of dish; the knife should come out clean.
Sophia Markoulakis is a food, home, and garden writer and recipe developer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read more of her work at Sophia Markoulakis.
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