Breakfast is sometimes a nuisance over the holidays. I mean, everyone has to eat it, but it sometimes just gets in the way – especially if you have an entire day of cooking ahead of you.
But what if I told you there was a better way? A strata way.
Strata, if you don’t know, is a classic baked dish that usually involves layers of custard mixture, veggies, and cheese. You could add meat to it, but my favorite strata recipes are always heavy on the veggies.
The best thing about this dish? You make it the day before so breakfast is as easy as popping it in the oven. What’s better than that?
1) Butter an 8x8 baking dish. Rip up a few slices of bread and measure out two cups of cubed bread. Press the bread into the baking dish.
2) Top the bread with 3/4 of the cheddar cheese, broccoli florets (cut into small pieces) and quartered cherry tomatoes.
3) Whisk together eggs, milk, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour custard mixture over the veggies and bread. Try to distribute it evenly over the baking dish.
4) Top strata with dollops of ricotta cheese, the extra cheddar cheese, parsley, and herbs de provence.
5) Wrap the strata with plastic wrap and store in the fridge overnight. Remove from the fridge 30 minutes before baking.
6) Bake strata at 350 degrees F. for about an hour until the cheese is melted and custard is set in the center.
Let the strata cool briefly, but serve warm. You can double the recipe for an 9x13 baking dish.
A Custard Base
Leftover bread (or rolls) that are a bit stale are the perfect item for this dish. Using really fresh bread is actually not great because the bread will get too mushy. If you only have fresh bread and can’t wait, I recommend drying out the bread for 10-15 minutes in a 250 degree F. oven.
Then cube up your bread pieces into small chunks and measure out two cups. Add that to an 8×8 baking dish that’s been nicely buttered.
Now for the custard mixture. This is as easy as whisking together the eggs with the milk and a pinch of salt and pepper. When this soaks into the bread and bakes it’ll turn light and fluffy and be really delicious as a base layer for the veggies and cheese.
On top of the bread, sprinkle about 3/4 cup of cheddar cheese. You don’t need to over-do it on the cheese here.
Then add your grape tomatoes and broccoli. I’m usually not one for using fresh tomatoes in the winter, but the little grape tomatoes are usually ripe and fine in the stores these days. They aren’t perfect summer quality, but they will totally work for this dish.
Make sure to cut the florets really small for the broccoli so you can spread them around evenly. If you’re not a broccoli fan you could double the tomatoes or use any other sturdy green.
Then pour all the custard mixture over the veggies. It will drain through the veggies and soak into the bread which is exactly what you want.
Dot the veggies with some ricotta cheese and the last of the cheddar.
Cover this bad boy with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge overnight.
What happens overnight?
Magic. That’s what. The bread soaks up all that delicious egg mixture and almost turns into a solid layer. Think savory bread pudding.
The next morning, take the strata out about 30 minutes before you want to bake it just to take the chill off and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Before baking, sprinkle the strata with some fresh parsley and some herbs de provence if you have them.
Bake this sucker until the center is set and the edges are browned. It’ll need to bake for about an hour.
Once the strata has cooled a bit, slice it up and serve it.
This recipe feed four hungry souls, but you can easily double it and bake it in a 9×13 dish.
It actually turns out being a much lighter dish than you would think. As you might imagine, I doused mine in hot sauce, but that’s just me.
If you have a hole in your breakfast meal plan this coming holiday week, toss this sucker together the night before.
Instead of stressing it… strata it! (See what I did there?)