There are few dishes that wait for the cook and her company. In my kitchen, it is far often the other way around. So when I need to regain some control over service I turn to the strata, a dish that is perfectly flexible, patient, and decadent.
Strata is the bread pudding made with a base of savory eggs. This easy treat (meal) generally includes cubes or slices of bread that have been soaked in custard. Like many egg dishes, a strata can incorporate any or all of your favorite ingredients. Once assembled, it sets anywhere between a few hours up to an entire day before baking – making it the perfect dish to entertain with. For me, it is the ideal vehicle to sneak eggs and milk into my toddler’s diet – neither of which he has been enjoying of late.
5 cups of cubed bread (use whole wheat for more nutrition; French for a more classic version)
8 large eggs
1 quart milk (lowfat is fine)
1 tsp pepper, freshly ground
1 1/2 – 2 cups grated cheese (we use low-skim mozarella)
Filling of your choice. Ours includes:
- 1 cup spinach, chopped and thawed from frozen
1/2 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup sliced onions
1/2 cup frozen peas and carrots
1 cup sausage (any variety), cooked and crumbled
- Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and pepper.
- Add cooled sausage and vegetables (or your filling(s) of choice).
- Gently fold in bread cubes and cheese.
- Cover and chill for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
- To bake, heat oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the mixture has puffed up slightly and is golden brown on top. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Note: Consider a sweet strata – essentially a baked french toast.