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Spring-Time Asparagus Strata

It’s a sure sign of spring when the first batches of asparagus appear on store shelves. This layered egg casserole is perfect for a party because it can be assembled the day before and then simply popped into the oven when your guests arrive. Serve with a crusty whole-wheat bread and your favorite salad for a complete brunch or dinner meal.

1 (1-pound) bunch of fresh asparagus, with tough ends snapped off and the rest cut into 1-inch pieces (3 cups)

2 teaspoons (tsp) olive oil

4 slices Canadian bacon, diced

1 large onion, chopped

5 large eggs

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)

freshly ground pepper to taste

2 cups 1% milk

4 cups cubed whole-wheat bread (4 slices with crusts removed)

1 cup grated Swiss or Cheddar cheese

Steam asparagus until just tender (3–4 minutes); rinse under cold water and drain well.

Heat oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon and onion, and stir until onion is softened and light golden (about 4 minutes). Remove pan from heat, and add the asparagus, stirring until coated.

Whisk eggs, mustard, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl until blended; whisk in milk.

Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread the bread cubes on the bottom of the baking dish, and then sprinkle on the onion, bacon and asparagus mixture and the cheese. Slowly pour the egg and milk mixture over the top, making sure you cover the strata evenly. Cover the baking dish, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (preferably overnight).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake uncovered until the casserole is light golden and set (about 40–50 minutes). Let stand for 5 minutes, and then serve hot. Makes eight servings.

Per Serving: 210 calories (43% from fat); 10 grams (g) fat; 150 milligrams (mg) cholesterol; 430 mg sodium; 2 g fiber; 15 g carbohydrates; 15 g protein; 238 mg calcium.

Source: April 2005 Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter.

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