Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Strata--Breakfast Caserole

I had my parents over for breakfast a few weeks ago, and I made a strata and muffins.  (I'll save the muffins for another post--they tasted good but looked a little deformed as I tried to bake them in my heart-shaped tins.)

Strata, if you are not familiar with it, is basically a breakfast casserole.  It is made up of bread (often either day old or toasted and either sliced or cubed, often about a loaf or about four cups cubed) or crispy hash brown patties, eggs (usually about 6-8 eggs or egg substitute), milk (usually two cups), cheese (usually one to two cups of shredded cheese), and at least two additions (either a meat and vegetable or two vegetables, though I don't think it would be a horrible thing to add in three additions). 

You mix the milk or cream with the eggs and whatever herbs you like, you saute the vegetables and cook the meat (often sausage or bacon, either the swine variety or the turkey versions).  Toast the bread cubes in the oven if that's what you're using, mix with the vegetables (and meat if you're using) and cheese, and place in a lightly oiled 9x13 baking pan.  Pour egg and milk mixture over the cubed bread and filling, and chill for one hour to overnight before baking at 350 degrees for about 40-50 minutes.

Some recipes call for slices of bread (like baguettes), they should be layered, with the fillings and cheese placed on top of them (like a lasagna).  Then you pour the liquid over it, add another layer of bread slices, and repeat.  I like the bread cubes because it's less work.

There are all kinds of varieties of strata--you can even find recipes for the slow cooker, so if you're making brunch and you don't want to rush around cooking in the morning, it's a good option to use.

Some things I like to add in my strata:
  • Spinach
  • Mushrooms
  • Chopped broccoli
  • Sausage
  • Prosciutto (browned)
  • Grated carrot
  • Chopped zucchini or summer squash
  • Diced peppers

You get the idea.  Use whatever vegetables you like.  It's a good way to use up leftovers--add them to the strata.

The herbs I use in a strata tend to be savory, not spicy or pungent but you can go that way if you like.  I lean towards basil, oregano, thyme, or rosemary, along with a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper.

For cheese, you can use whatever you like.  I'm a fan of very sharp white cheddar, but Swiss is also nice, or brie, or mozzarella or feta or Monterrey Jack--whatever you like and whatever goes with the meal. 

These make for good leftovers--especially convenient if you want a quick and very filling breakfast the next day. 

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