Butternut Squash and Kale Strata

The recipe for this beautiful Butternut Squash and Kale Strata was inspired by our trip to California in September with Earthbound Farm. We enjoyed touring their fields and learning about large-scale organic farming, but what we loved most was the good food. We came away from that trip nourished – and more importantly for people who love to cook – inspired! It must have been the chill in the air – summer was just giving way to fall – but two of their dishes we vowed to recreate were Skillet Butternut Squash and Kale with Maple-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds which we posted a couple months ago and this Butternut Squash and Kale strata we held off posting until Christmas time.

We are a strata loving family, for its taste as well as its practicality. A pan (or two!) of it always makes its way onto our holiday table . We thought we had strata pretty well figured out (we have about five recipes on Three Many Cooks already!), but we loved how Earthbound’s chef, Sarah LaCasse, made it heartier and healthier with the addition of squash and kale. And if you’re crazed this Christmas and want to make life a little easier, head to the freezer section in your grocery store – Earthbound carries organic, frozen butternut squash and kale.

Butternut Squash and Kale Strata

Butternut Squash and Kale Strata
Serves 12
You can make strata with milk, but you might want the richer half and half for your more celebratory holiday brunch.

4 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound butternut squash, cut into medium dice
Salt and ground black pepper
1 pound kale, stemmed, washed, and torn into bite size
1 quart half and half or whole milk, your choice
1 dozen large eggs
2 baguettes (scant 2 pounds) sliced 1/2-inch thick
12 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 3 cups)

Place 2 teaspoons of the oil, 1/3 cup water, butternut squash, and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper in a large skillet. Covering pan and turning burner on high, cook until water evaporates and squash starts to sauté, about 5 minutes. Transfer to squash to a plate. Add remaining 2 teaspoons of oil, another 1/3 cup of water, the kale and a light sprinkling of salt and pepper and repeat cooking method until water evaporates and kale is bright green and just wilted, about 5 minutes. Turn onto another plate and set aside.

Meanwhile whisk milk, eggs, 1 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper until smooth.

Line pan bottom with half the bread slices to form a tight fit. Scatter half of the squash, kale, and cheese over the bread. Pour 2 cups of egg mixture over the topped bread. Make another layer with remaining bread, scattering with remaining squash, kale and cheese. Slowly pour remaining egg mixture over bread. Let stand, occasionally pressing on bread to submerge it, until it has absorbed the milk mixture, at least 15 minutes. (Can be covered and refrigerated overnight.)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Bake until custard is set, about 50 minutes. Without adjusting oven rack, turn on broiler; broil until strata is spotty brown and puffy, about 5 minutes longer.

Remove from oven, let stand for 8 to 10 minutes, and then serve immediately.