A strata is a savoury bread and butter pudding. We make many delicious combinations but this one was inspired by Claire Ptak’s version at Violet Bakery in London. This Kale, Mushroom and Ricotta Strata recipe makes a brilliant vegetarian main course.
– 900g stale white sourdough bread
– butter, for spreading
– green salad, to serve
For the filling
– 3 large leeks, sliced 2cm thick (white part only)
– 25g butter, plus extra for greasing
– 3–4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– 2 tbsp chopped marjoram or rosemary
– 500g kale, such as Cavolo Nero, curly or Red Russian kale
– 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper (pul biber)
– 250g flat mushrooms, thinly sliced
– 110g Gruyère cheese, freshly grated
– 25g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
– 100g buffalo ricotta
– sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the savoury custard
– 8 organic eggs
– 5 tbsp double cream
– 370ml full-fat milk
– grated fresh nutmeg
1. First, prepare the leeks – trim the green tops, wash and add to the stockpot. Wash and slice the blanched white ends. Heat the butter and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a sauté. pan, and when it foams add the sliced leeks.
2. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and toss to coat. Add the freshly chopped herbs, cover and sweat for 8–10 minutes until soft and not coloured.
3. Strip the kale off the stalks and roughly chop the leaves. Cook the kale in boiling salted water (3 teaspoons of salt to 3.4 litres of water) for 5–6 minutes or until tender. Cook in batches if necessary.
4. Drain very well. Season with salt, freshly ground pepper and the Aleppo pepper. Add to the leeks.
5. Sauté the sliced mushrooms in the remaining olive oil in a hot pan, in batches if necessary, seasoning each batch as you cook. Add to the leek and kale mixture.
6. Next, whisk the ingredients together for the savoury custard. Add ½ teaspoon of salt, lots of freshly ground pepper and a generous grating of nutmeg.
7. Butter a 20cm x 30cm roasting tin or lasagne dish. Slice the bread thinly; butter lightly and remove the crusts. Arrange a layer of bread on the base of the buttered roasting tin. Taste the kale mixture and correct the seasoning if necessary.
8. Spread half of the kale mixture evenly over the bread followed by half the Gruyere, Parmesan and ricotta. Top with another layer of bread, the remaining kale mixture, and the remaining cheese and ricotta, saving a little Parmesan to sprinkle over the top. Top with a layer of bread, buttered side up.
9. Pour the custard evenly over the strata. Cover and chill for at least an hour for the bread to absorb the custard or overnight, if possible.
10. Preheat the oven to 180˚C/gas mark 4.
11. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan over the top. Bake for 50 minutes–1 hour or until the top is golden and the custard has just set. Leave to sit for 5–10 minutes before cutting into portions.
12. Serve warm with a good green salad.
Growing your own food is exciting but, when it comes to knowing how to make the most of your produce, it can be daunting.
In Grow, Cook, Nourish, bestselling author Darina Allen draws on more than 30 years of experience gardening at Ballymaloe to take you through an extensive list of vegetables, herbs and fruits with each entry including explanations of different varieties, practical information on cultivation, growing and maintenance, plus instructions for the best ways to cook produce as well as preserve and utilise a glut.
Taken from Grow Cook Nourish by Darina Allen, published by Kyle Books. Photography by Clare Winfield.