Spring flowers have already begun to bloom here in Asheville and before you know it Springtime fruits and vegetables will start appearing at our local Farmers’ Markets. Our favorite open-air market is the North Asheville Tailgate Market on the UNC Asheville campus, just a mile from A Bed of Roses. It’s a 15-20 minute walk from here along the Reed Creek Greenway. Their 2020 season begins April 4th and one of the first appearances will be fresh local asparagus. The local asparagus season is all too brief, but the taste is so much better than asparagus imported from across the country or across the world! I’m looking forward to using it in my Savory Asparagus and Tarragon strata. You make it the night before which makes it a wonderful main course for a crowd at that special brunch. This strata is also vegetarian, but a sweet and spicy sausage complements the flavors well. We like to serve it with a minted fruit salad for brunch or a salad of greens and a glass of white wine for dinner.
Savory Asparagus Tarragon Strata*
- 1 loaf Sourdough French Bread, cubed
- 4 Tbs butter, divided
- 3 scallions, diced
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1 cup diced asparagus spears, top half only
- ¾ tsp dried tarragon
- 2 cups grated Mexican Cheese Blend
- 8 extra large eggs
- 1 1/3 cups milk
- 1 Tbs Dijon mustard or to taste
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 1 Tbs dry Sherry
- 1 cup sour cream
- ~1/4 cup milk, as needed
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano Cheese
- Spray a 9” x 13” glass baking dish with butter flavored cooking spray.
- Spread cubed bread on the bottom of the dish, covering the bottom completely to form a solid layer
- Melt 3 Tbs butter in the microwave and drizzle over bread cubes.
- Melt 1 Tbs butter in a medium sauté pan and add scallions. Saute 1 minute.
- Add mushrooms and sauté until they give up their liquid.
- Add asparagus and tarragon and sauté another minute or until the asparagus tips are bright green. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a large bowl whisk the eggs, adding milk, mustard, pepper and cayenne.
- Add wine and Sherry to the egg mixture and blend.
- Sprinkle the grated Mexican Cheese over the bread cubes.
- Spread the sautéed vegetables evenly over the top.
- Pour the egg mixture over the casserole and cover with tin foil.
- Refrigerate overnight.
- Remove strata from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for ½ hour
- Preheat oven to 325°.
- Bake, covered with foil for 50 minutes.
- In a medium bowl whisk sour cream with ¼ to ½ cup of milk to thin just enough to make it the consistency of a frosting.
- Remove strata from oven and spread the sour cream mixture evenly over the top.
- Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese
- Increase oven temperature to 375° and switch to confection baking if you have that option.
- Return strata to oven and bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes until it’s starting to brown.
- Let sit for 5 minutes, cut into squares and serve.
For the sweet and spicy sausage, cook fresh sausage patties as directed, put aside, wipe out pan and add jalapeño jelly. Melt the jelly and add the sausage back into the pan to warm and coat with the jelly.
* This recipe appears in our Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association cookbook, “Morning in the Mountains” along with several more of my recipes. You can order the cookbook on our website or pick one up on your next visit!