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How to Make Strata: My Favorite Breakfast Casserole

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Rose Mary's mother and all of her aunts are great Southern cooks. She likes to think she's not so bad herself.

Hot strata, fresh out of the oven!

Hot strata, fresh out of the oven!

What Is Strata?

Strata is a family favorite at my house. It’s a breakfast casserole that is made with bread and eggs and then layered with ingredients like onions, mushrooms, ham, and cheese. I also like spinach or asparagus on my strata, and sometimes I substitute sausage for ham.

I think I first saw this dish on NBC’s Today Show with Oprah’s chef, Art Smith. Subsequently, I have seen other stratas, also on the Today Show. Prep time is pretty quick, so you can sit back and read the paper while you wait—or watch the Today Show!

Great Way to Use Leftover Bread

Strata is a good way for my family to use leftover bread in a tasty way. There are three adults in our household. When we have hamburgers, hot dogs, and/or brats, we may use three to five buns. Then we may not have burgers or dogs again for weeks—so we have lots of leftover buns. And even when we eat sandwiches regularly, such as taking them to work, we never eat the “butt” pieces.

After our first strata, we unanimously declared this breakfast casserole a family favorite. Now I take leftover bread, cut it into cubes or tear it, and put it in the freezer for future stratas. The greater the diversity in the types of bread, the better. Ciabatta, croissants, Texas toast—anything goes.

Variety of leftover breads

Variety of leftover breads

Read More From Delishably

Ingredients

  • 4 to 6 cups leftover bread, cut into cubes or torn into pieces
  • 10 large eggs, divided 7/5
  • 1 cup milk or cream
  • 8 ounces cheese (e.g., grated cheddar cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, sliced Swiss cheese, sliced cream cheese, or a combination)
  • 4-6 ounces of diced ham (I use sandwich “boiled ham,” or leftover Christmas ham) or sausage cut into rounds (such as brats, Italian sausage, or brown-and-serve links)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (optional)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, well-drained (or 8 to 12 sundried tomatoes, cut into pieces) (optional)
  • 10-12 asparagus spears or ½ bag baby spinach

Directions

  1. Spray or butter a 9” X 13” baking dish.
  2. Crack open 7 eggs into a bowl and beat. Add cream or milk, and beat to combine.
  3. Add bread cubes to cover the bottom of the dish.
  4. Pour egg and milk mixture over the bread cubes. Stir to coat. Let sit 20 minutes for the mixture to soak into the bread. One chef on the Today Show lets the bread and egg mixture sit in the refrigerator overnight.
  5. Add a layer of shredded cheese or sliced cheese.
  6. Sauté onions and layer over your breakfast casserole.
  7. Sauté mushrooms, just to “sweat” them a bit. Layer over casserole.
  8. Wilt spinach in a skillet. Add in a layer to your casserole. (Alternatively, if you use asparagus instead of spinach, cut in 1 ½” pieces. Sauté in the pan a few minutes.)
  9. Add cooked diced ham or sausage rounds. Then add tomatoes.
  10. Layer with cheese.
  11. Beat the remaining 5 eggs and pour over the top of the strata.
  12. Bake at 350º for about 45 minutes.

A Few Substitutions I Made

  • I make strata in a corning dish, approximately 10” X 13”. I crack the eggs directly into the corning dish and beat, then add the milk, then the bread.
  • The pictures are from the strata I prepared tonight. I used 10 eggs initially instead of 7, and 1 1/2 cups of milk because I had about 6 to 8 cups of bread. I did not have cream and used 2 percent milk. I put slices of Swiss cheese over the egg and bread mixture.
  • I didn’t have mushrooms but had fresh spinach and onions. I used sun-dried tomatoes that were particularly hard, so cut them into pieces and soaked them in water for about 20 minutes. I had 2 leftover grilled bratwursts that I cut into pieces. I topped the strata with shredded mild cheddar cheese, then the remaining 5 eggs. I have made strata with slices of cream cheese, which was also good.
  • I wanted my strata to look nice and symmetrical for my photos, but usually, I only put spinach and mushrooms on one side, since my sister doesn’t like them. It’s kind of like pizza, you can have two halves that are different.

Try a nice strata breakfast casserole and let me know how it turns out!

Strata made with onion rolls, gorgonzola cheese, cream cheese, mushrooms, onions, and ham

Strata made with onion rolls, gorgonzola cheese, cream cheese, mushrooms, onions, and ham

© 2010 rmcrayne

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