The strongest flavor in this distinctively tasty breakfast results from a vegetable that is related to variety of species of thistle (scolymus – commonly referred to as the golden thistle). Now, right away, doesn’t that sound tasty? (ugh!) Yes, but studies have shown this vegetable to aid digestion, hepatic and gall bladder function, raise the ratio of HDL to LDL and strong in antioxidants. (No it is not cod liver oil!) It was also used as a food among the ancient Greeks and Romans in the 1500’s. Native to the Mediterranean area, its initial processing includes removing all but 0.2–0.4” of the stem along with about a quarter of scales so as to delete its residual thorns. (Fortunately when you purchase them in the store, this has already been done.) With such a history, no wonder they have such a unique taste. What is it? An artichoke (Cynara scolymus)! We love them and they have become a delicious addition to Stone Hill Inn Breakfasts!
Artichoke and Goat Cheese Strata
- 10 ounces of artichoke hearts (or I 10 ounce package of frozen artichoke hearts thawed)
- 1/3 cup (about 1 ½ ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- ½ loaf country-style white bread (we like to use sourdough) cut into 1-inch cubes (about 5 cups)
- ¾ cup (3 ounces) crumbled goat cheese, divided
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon dried herbs de Provence
- 1 ¾ cups 1% low-fat milk
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- Cooking spray
Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil; swirl to coat. Add shallots and cook for two minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in artichoke hearts and garlic; cook for eight minutes or until artichoke hearts begin to brown – stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in herbs de Province. Cool 10 minutes.
Combine milk, black pepper, salt and eggs in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add the yummy Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and bread; toss gently to combine. Stir in artichoke mixture. While you let this stand for 20 minutes, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spoon half of bread mixture into an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with half of goat cheese, and top with remaining bread mixture. Sprinkle remaining half of goat cheese over the top. Bake at 375 degrees for 50 minutes or until browned and bubbly!!
To the Tables
Our breakfast service usually lasts for about two hours, and guests often arrive depending upon the activities in Stowe they have planned for the day. Thus everyone is rarely available when the strata initially comes out of the oven. So we remove the strata from the oven to avoid its drying out, and we warm a piece when requested by the guest. We plate the strata with a small mixture of fresh lettuce and cherry tomatoes flavored with a light oil dressing – adding toast and meat accompaniment, as requested.
How we pitch it
Our breakfast this morning includes a wonderful combination of flavors – an artichoke/goat cheese strata. We form a base of sourdough bread in a baking dish and add a mixture of artichoke hearts, goat cheese, and some additional herbs so as to enhance its naturally Mediterranean flavor. We bake that in the oven until browned and serve warm with along with a small salad.