After a way too long absence, I am finally back and I want to share this awesome breakfast recipe. I was once at a friend’s pot-luck brunch and someone brought a delicious egg-dish that was filled with bread and tons of veggies. After eating an embarrassingly large amount of this stuff, I asked my hostess what it was and she said that it was called a strata. I had never heard of a strata before but I knew it was something I was going to have to learn more about. As I learned, strata is simply a layered casserole and the most common type of strata is a breakfast version made commonly with eggs, bread and cheese. I started looking at recipes for breakfast stratas and found a simple and basic one in one of my favorite cookbooks, Perfect Recipes for Having People Over by Pam Anderson.
According to Ms. Anderson, using some simple white or wheat sandwich bread is best because it melds with the eggs better than any other type of bread. I found that using the soft sandwich bread makes for a nice and chewy custard-like interior while allowing for a crunchy crust. I am loving the versatility of a strata too because, for example, you can mix it up and make this recipe non-vegetarian by using whatever meat you like or you could use an assortment of your favorite veggies, spices and cheeses. Another bonus about stratas, you can prepare them up to 24 hours in advance of when you want to serve them. Next brunch I go to, I know what I am bringing! Hope you enjoy this strata as much as I do. :)
Vegetarian Feta Strata (adapted from the recipe for Easy Savory Strata)
10-by-7 inch baking dish*
1 cup of milk or milk substitute
2-3 oz. feta cheese
7 large eggs
7 slices of fluffy sandwich bread (white or wheat)
vegetables of choice, chopped (I used red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp ground sage
2 tbsp sour cream
fresh parsley, chopped
2 veggie burgers (or veggie crumbles)
fresh ground pepper
1. Cook the veggie burgers or veggie crumbles according to your preferred method (I cooked my veggie burgers in a pan sprayed lightly with oil). If using veggie burgers, once cooked, cut them up into little pieces.
2. Whisk together the eggs, milk (or milk substitute), sour cream, salt, pepper, garlic powder, sage and handful of chopped fresh parsley.
3. Spray your baking pan with a bit of cooking spray (or grease it with a little butter). Place half of your sandwich bread at the bottom of the pan (make sure to fill in any gaps with pieces of bread so that you have a full layer).
4. Layer half of your vegetables and veggie burgers/veggie crumbles on top of the bread. Then sprinkle half of the feta cheese on top. Pour 1 cup of the egg mixture over this layer.
5. Then make another layer of bread and top it with the remaining ingredients, as in Step 4, but this time, pour all of the remaining egg mixture on top (try and pour as evenly as possible so that the egg mixture covers the whole top layer).
6. Cover the baking dish with a layer of plastic wrap and put in refrigerator for 15 minutes (or up to 24 hours). Make sure to lightly weight the strata (since my pan is pretty small, I found four cans worked well). Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
7. Bake strata for approximately 50 minutes (you should end up with a nice golden crust and the egg mixture should be set). If you want an even crispier crust, turn on your oven’s broiler and broil the strata for several more minutes (approximately 5 minutes). If you do broil the top, pay careful attention so that you do not burn the dish. After removing the strata from the oven, let it rest for a few minutes. Then dish and serve.
*I used a 10-by-7 baking dish but if you use a larger one, make sure to make the appropriate recipe adjustments.