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Most stratas are rich, cheesy, and ultra-fatty, loaded with butter, eggs, and cream or half-and-half. But we knew there had to be a way to keep the brunch staple on the table, just with fewer calories and fat. So we first tried using egg whites and a mix of more whites than yolks, plus skim milk. But these versions were all disappointingly lean and unsatisfying. Sticking with whole eggs proved best, and whole milk kept the custard just rich enough. Incorporating chopped spinach provided additional heartiness to the dish, and feta cheese, which is naturally low in fat, was a great alternative to full-fat cheeses and lent our strata a pleasant tangy flavor. Ultimately, we were able to take this dish from 480 calories to 330, and from 32 grams of fat to 16.
MAKEOVER SPOTLIGHT: STRATA
1. Strata is traditionally made with layers of sliced, dried bread; however, we found this didn’t work with a lightened custard—the slices weighed the custard down and tasted dense. Dried cubes of bread, on the other hand, didn’t overwhelm the delicate texture of the custard and allowed the strata to soufflé slightly during baking. Also, drying the bread helped keep it from disintegrating into the custard. To dry the bread cubes, spread them out over a rimmed baking sheet and bake them in a 275‐degree oven until dry and crisp.
2. For a low‐fat yet still creamy and rich custard, we ditched the heavy cream in favor of whole milk. Reduced white wine and sautéed onion and garlic boosted the flavor of our leaner strata. Whereas traditional stratas are built in layers in a baking dish (like a lasagna), we found it best to toss all of the custard, bread cubes, and aromatics together, then pour the mixture into the dish. This helped the bread become evenly soaked through and prevented any pockets of dry bread.
3. Pressing the strata and letting it sit for at least an hour was key; this gave the dry bread time to absorb the custard so the strata baked up with an even, creamy texture. We found that a large zipper‐lock bag full of sugar or dried beans made a great weight. The weighted strata can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours before baking—in fact, the longer the strata rests, the more delicate and flavorful it will be.
4. Using feta, a flavorful yet less fatty cheese, helped us cut a lot of fat and calories from the dish without sacrificing any flavor. For evenly distributed bites of cheese throughout, we stirred some of the feta into the strata and sprinkled the rest over the top just before baking.