Have you seen The Family Stone with Sarah Jessica Parker? There is a scene involving the preparation of, and unfortunate disaster involving a Christmas strata. Ever since seeing the movie a few years back I have always wanted to make one. But, since I am not a huge breakfast eater, I never got around to making one. This past weekend I decided to make brunch and finally decided to give the strata a chance.
A strata typically involves two key ingredients: eggs and bread. You can add meats, cheeses and vegetables, but a strata is not a strata without eggs and bread. In a casserole dish I layered sauteed vegetables with cheese and cubed french bread. Then, I poured an egg mixture over the whole thing. The casserole goes into the fridge overnight and bakes up the next morning. The result reminded me of a savory bread pudding. This version includes a variety of vegetables, herbed chèvre (goat cheese) and parmesan cheese. For a less family-style presentation, try baking individual portions in ramekins.
Vegetable Breakfast Strata
Adapted from Taste of Home Healthy Cooking
1 cup baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 zucchini, chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups, fresh baby spinach
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
10 ounces herbed chèvre (goat cheese)
1-3/4 cups Parmesan cheese, grated
1 loaf day-old* french bread, cubed
2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon, ground nutmeg
Saute mushrooms, zucchini, red pepper and onion in olive oil over medium heat until tender. Add in the spinach, garlic cloves, dried thyme, salt and pepper. Saute another 3 to 4 minutes or until the spinach is wilted. Coat a 13x9 glass baking dish with cooking spray. Layer half of the vegetable mixture with half of the cubed bread, goat cheese and Parmesan cheese. Repeat. Whisk together the eggs, milk and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Pour over the casserole. Cover and refrigerate overnight. About 30 minutes before baking, remove the strata from the fridge. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until set. Serve warm.
*If, like me, you bought the bread the day of, here's a tip. Cube the bread, place on a cookie sheet and place in a 200 degree oven for 20 minutes or so. It will help to "stale" the bread.