I have a problem throwing out food.
This, of course, is my parents’ fault. They were of The Great Depression in America during the 1930s. Believe me when I say I heard all the stories.
A long time ago, I bought a book for my mom to fill out called Grandma Remembers. I wanted to have some written history of our family. She never filled out any of the questions in the book. During visits to mom I would ask a few questions in the book and write in the answers for her to make it easier.
Sample questions were “What was your favorite toy when you were small?” “What was your favorite meal for dinner?” “What did you get for Christmas?”
Every question I asked my mom she gave me the same answer, “I didn’t have a toy, we were poor,” “We were poor, I ate whatever my mother gave me,” “We didn’t get Christmas presents, we were poor.”
Because she was poor, it sounded like she had no life. Here was this book of memories for me to pass onto my children and generations to come and every question was answered with “We were poor.”
Mom and I laughed so hard together at her answers when we read them back. The reason I am telling you this story is that my mom was poor—I know you got that by now—and it was a sin to waste food when there was a time when there wasn’t any food to waste.
She brought me up with the value of not wasting food. Don’t throw out food.
This recipe was created because I had some leftover Italian bread, cooked spinach and cheese that I needed to use soon. I didn’t want to throw out these leftovers.
I started pouring through my cookbooks and recipes for ideas. My collection is big and diversified. Thank goodness I have a great memory. I remembered one of my Italian cookbooks had a dish called strata that reminded me of a quiche-like dish.
The combination I used of the yellow eggs, green spinach and red tomatoes made for a deliciously colorful dish. I prepared the dish and let it sit overnight for dinner the next night.
At first, the reception from my family was not so happy at the thought of eggs for dinner. Plus there was no meat in this recipe. This was a double whammy as far as the guys were concerned.
But believe it or not, my husband loved it and my daughter, too. I am a huge vegetable person so I loved it also.
This time of year, the tomatoes are perfect and the vegetables are abundant, whether from the , the supermarket or your own backyard. This is the time to make any kind of strata—for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
This is a great dish and a great way to use up your leftovers without wasting food, because there are people who never waste food and never forget that their mother was poor.
Note: I never forgot that my mom was poor and hungry at one time in her life. Because of that, I volunteered at a food pantry for a few years. I would go from work to the pantry and help pack food bags for pick up. It took only an hour of my time at a community center. Upon leaving the center, I would see the line of people waiting to pick up their bag of food. It certainly made me appreciate the things in life that are sometimes taken for granted, such as a job, a home or a meal on the table. If you are interested in volunteering or helping out, please take a moment to visit the Westchester Coalition for the Hungry and Homeless Web site at http://foodclothingshelter.org or call 914-682-2737. In New Rochelle alone, there are eight food pantries listed as well as seven soup kitchens.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 5 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
- 6 eggs
- 1 package fresh spinach, washed, chopped, squeezed dry or
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1-2/3 cups half and half
- 1/2 small onion, sliced thin
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 8 slices of stale hard Italian or French bread
- salt and pepper
- In a greased 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan, arrange 4 slices of the hard stale Italian/French bread in a single layer. Spread 1 tablespoon of the softened butter on 4 slices of the bread in baking dish and then spread another 1 tablespoon of the softened butter on 4 slices outside the dish. Set aside.
- In a 10-inch frying pan add the remaining butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place on top of the stove under a low flame. Sauté onions, garlic and tomatoes until tender. Add spinach. Cook everything until hot, stirring well. Set aside in a bowl.
- Meanwhile add wine to pan. Increase heat to medium-high; simmer until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 3 minutes. Set aside.
- In a bowl, whisk eggs then add the wine, while continually whisking, add the half and half and dash in some salt and pepper.
- Top the 4 slices of buttered bread with half the spinach mixture and then top with half of the grated cheese. Arrange remaining 4 bread slices in a single layer over the cheese and repeat the layer of spinach and cheese.
- Pour the egg mixture evenly over everything and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerator at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove dish from the refrigerator and let it sit for 10 minutes.
- Uncover and bake for 45 minutes or until puffed and the edges have pulled away slightly from the sides of dish. Let it sit for a few minutes before cutting.
- Enjoy! Spinach never tasted so good!
Mariann Raftery, creator of Somebody's Mom blog, cooks up comfort food recipes for families here at home, as well as sending homemade cookie care packages to our American soldiers overseas. Somebody's Mom Cooking videos at http://www.youtube.com, search "Thesomebodysmom".