Easy Breakfast Strata
This make-ahead strata is perfect for when you have overnight guests or are feeding a crowd for breakfast or brunch.
While it sounds Italian, strata is actually American in origin, and is, in essence, a layered casserole. It is a great way to use up leftovers, and can be either savory or sweet. It can be served hot or at room temperature, making it a great brunch buffet item. I love to eat it at room temperature with a nice spring green salad for lunch.
Think of a strata as an elegant, savory bread pudding, with layers of cheese, vegetables and bread with a creamy milk and egg custard. In this version, I’ve used some of my favorite veggies – red pepper, mushrooms, a little onion, and superfoods like spinach. One important step in making a strata is the soaking. The very minimum you want to let your strata soak for is one hour, but really, overnight is best. Take it out of the refrigerator while your oven preheats, and then pop it in. When it is fully cooked, give it a few minutes to sit before you cut into it, it’ll be nice and light, puffy and delectable.
Go ahead and grab all those leftovers in your refrigerator, or use your favorite veggies along with cooked and crumbled sausage or bacon if you like, and BE BRAVE – create your own layered strata. Then enjoy your Sunday morning coffee knowing you have a delicious and healthy breakfast baking in the oven.
6 cups cubed whole wheat baguette or ciabatta bread
4-5 teaspoons O&V Basil EVOO *
½ cup chopped white onion
1 medium to large red pepper, chopped
5-6 cloves garlic minced
1 lb sliced cremini mushrooms
4 cups lightly packed spinach leaves
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (4 oz)
2 teaspoons minced thyme
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
10 large eggs
1 ½ cup milk (I like 2%)
2 tablespoons Garlic mustard or Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt (more to taste)
1 ½ teaspoons fresh cracked pepper (more to taste)
Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking dish and spread half the bread cubes in the dish. In a small bowl, stir together the two cheeses, then put 1/3 of the cheese mixture aside.
In a large skillet heat 2 teaspoons of the oil on medium heat. Add the onion, peppers and garlic and cook till the onions are translucent, peppers are tender and the garlic fragrant. Remove from skillet into a large bowl.
Return the skillet to the heat and add the remaining oil on medium heat. Add mushroom and cook till caramelized, stirring often. Add the spinach and thyme and cook till spinach is slightly wilted. Add back the onion/pepper mixture and stir well.
Spread half the vegetable mixture over the bread cubes in the pan. Sprinkle with the 2/3 of cheese mixture. Layer with remaining bread cubes and finally the remaining vegetable mixture.
In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, mustard, salt and pepper. Slowly pour over the layered mixture in the pan. Cover and chill overnight.
Preheat oven to 325F. Remove strata from refrigerator while your oven preheats, and bake uncovered for 50 minutes.
Remove, sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/3 cup cheese and return to the oven for another 8-10 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.
Let stand 10 minutes before serving
Active Time: 35 minutes; Chill: overnight. Bake 60 minutes
* Yes, as always, I love using the products from our Oil & Vinegar franchise. Here, the Basil EVOO and the Garlic mustard add depth of flavor, and a slightly garlicky flavor. Feel free to substitute products, just remember, that the better the ingredients, the healthier and tastier the outcome/dish.
Categories: Breakfast & Brunch, Vegetarian, Strata, Breakfast Casserole, Left-Over Bread, Feeding a Crowd, Make-Ahead, Eggs, Mushrooms, Spinach, Basil EVOO, Garlic Mustard