Springtime Brunch: Three Cheese Strata with Asparagus & Ham or Turkey
8 cups 1-inch cubes sourdough or other dense bread
2 cups milk
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 lb asparagus
3/4 lb Black Forest Ham or Smoked Turkey
1 red pepper
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp fennel seed
5 large eggs
1-1/2 cups table cream (18% cream)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
6 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 cup grated Fontina or Swiss cheese
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 3 L (13x9-inch) glass baking dish. Place bread in large bowl. Whisk together milk and olive oil; pour over bread cubes. Let stand about 10 minutes and liquid is absorbed.
Rinse asparagus well and break stalks at woody part; discard lower portion. Place asparagus in boiling water and cook over medium-high heat for 3 minutes. Drain and immediately cool under cold water; drain again and cut into bite-size pieces. Cut ham or turkey into 1/2-inch pieces. Core and seed red pepper; coarsely chop. Combine herbs in small bowl. In large bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, garlic, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in crumbled goat cheese.
Cover bottom of greased pan with half the bread mixture. Top with half the asparagus, ham or turkey, red pepper, herbs and Fontina cheese. Pour half the cream mixture over. Repeat layering with remaining bread, asparagus, ham, red pepper, herbs and cheese. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Place Strata in preheated oven and bake uncovered about 1 hour and firm in centre with brown edges. Makes 8 servings.