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Welcome Spring with this savory strata recipe

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Here in Cleveland we know winter is ending when we see fresh asparagus on special at Heinen's, Trader Joe’s or Giant Eagle. Most of us prepare this delicious vegetable by roasting, steaming or boiling, but what about incorporating asparagus with other healthy ingredients (like walnuts) for delicious strata?

The following recipe is savory, aromatic, and delicious. Enjoy it for brunch as well as for dinner, as a matter of fact, it's a complete meal when served with a green salad. It can be served hot or warm and leftovers can be reheated in the microwave.

This recipe was created by Mollie Katzen, author of Get Cooking, a collection of 150 simple recipes to help beginning cooks get a good start in the kitchen.

Special thanks to the California Walnut Commission for sharing this recipe.

Savory Spring Strata with Asparagus, Mushrooms and Walnuts

Makes 6 – 8 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups chopped onions

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons dried tarragon

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

6 to 8 cups sliced domestic mushrooms (1 1/2 pounds)

1/3 pound shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and minced

3/4 pound asparagus, trimmed (tough stem ends discarded) and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1/4 cup dry sherry

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

3 cups bread cubes (1/2-inch pieces) (stale French, ciabatta or Italian bread is best)

5 large eggs

2 cups milk (low-fat okay)

1 cup California walnuts

1 cup (packed) grated medium cheddar (optional)

Sour cream, yogurt, or crème fraîche (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°F (325°F for a glass pan). Lightly spray a 9 X 13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.

Place a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat, and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions, herbs, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Sauté over medium heat for about 8 minutes, or until the onions are soft.

Add the mushrooms and the remaining salt. Sauté for about 5 minutes, then add the asparagus, cover and cook for about 10 minutes longer over medium heat.

Stir in the garlic, sherry, and lemon juice. Cook, stirring, for just a few minutes longer, then remove from the heat. Grind in some black pepper.

Evenly spread the bread cubes in the prepared pan. Spread the vegetable mixture over the bread, include all the liquid.

Combine the eggs and milk in a blender (or a food processor), and whip until smooth. Pour mixture over bread and mushrooms, and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Use your finger or a spoon to poke the bread into the liquid until all the pieces are soaked. Sprinkle walnuts on top and add the cheese, if desired.

Bake in the center of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the custard is almost set. (It's okay if it is still slightly wet on top, as it will continue to cook from its own heat for a few minutes after it comes out of the oven.)

Cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a dab of sour cream, yogurt, or crème fraîche —and/or salsa—on top of each serving, if desired.

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