Mushroom and Swiss chard strata with Gruyere makes a sumptuous weekend breakfast during the holidays. (Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post)

Mushroom and Swiss chard strata with Gruyere makes a sumptuous weekend breakfast during the holidays. (Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post)

Celebrate on a lighter note with sumptuous breakfast strata

This one skips the sausage and cream, so you won’t feel like napping after enjoying it.

Breakfast bakes are a holiday morning mainstay for good reason. They have a special-event quality to them, standing out as something you wouldn’t necessarily whip up on an average Wednesday. They are prepped the night before, and so offer the cook a relaxed morning. They can feed a house full of guests, or check breakfast off the to-do list for a couple of days.

Most breakfast bakes I have been served over the years have been rich sausage, cheese and cream-laden affairs, which is fine once in a while from this nutritionist’s point of view. But after a night of holiday partying, if you’re like me, you’re hankering for something a bit lighter.

That’s where this sumptuous strata comes in. It dishes up all the ease and splendor of a typical breakfast bake but in a more healthful way. It brims with sauteed mushrooms and ribbons of Swiss chard (you could substitute kale or spinach), is fragrant with herbs, and has just enough nutty Gruyere cheese to make it rich and flavorful. The cubes of crusty whole grain bread absorb the milk and egg mixture, so that once baked, the casserole puffs gloriously with a bread pudding-like texture inside and a crispy top.

It’s the kind of breakfast that gives you yet another thing to be thankful for this holiday season.

Mushroom and swiss chard strata with gruyere

The strata needs to be assembled and refrigerated for at least 8 hours and preferably overnight before baking.

Although best served right after baking, the strata will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat, covered, in a 350-degree oven or in the microwave.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the baking dish

1 medium bunch Swiss chard (about 10 ounces)

1 pound mixed mushrooms, sliced, and coarsely chopped if large

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

10 large eggs

2 cups milk, 1% is acceptable

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 cup packed, shredded Gruyère cheese (4 ounces)

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or ¾ teaspoon dried

1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage or ½ teaspoon dried

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 cups cubed crusty whole-grain bread (1-inch cubes)

Brush a 9×13-inch baking dish with oil. Separate the chard stems from the leaves. Dice the stems and coarsely chop the leaves, keeping them separate.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the mushrooms, onion and chard stems and cook, stirring, until softened and starting to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds more. Add the chard leaves and cook, until wilted, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and mustard until incorporated. Add the mushroom mixture, cheese, thyme, sage, salt and pepper and stir to incorporate. Add the bread and toss to combine. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle. Meanwhile, let the strata come to room temperature.

Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, or until the strata is set in the center and the top forms a golden-brown crust. Serve warm.

Makes 8 servings. Nutrition per serving: 310 calories; 310 15 grams total fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 285 milligrams cholesterol; 580 milligrams sodium; 27 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams dietary fiber; 8 grams sugar; 20 grams protein

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