Strata: My Favorite Breakfast Casserole

Updated on May 27, 2019
rmcrayne profile image

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! | Source

What Is Strata?

Strata is a family favorite at my house. What the heck is strata? 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, then you can sit back and read the paper while you wait—or watch the Today Show!

Chef David Simple Strata

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 | Source

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 oz cheese (e.g., grated cheddar cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, sliced Swiss cheese, sliced cream cheese, or a combination)
  • 4 to 6 oz 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 oz 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

I crack the eggs directly into my baking dish, beat them, and add milk.
I crack the eggs directly into my baking dish, beat them, and add milk. | Source
Stir to coat bread. Let sit for bread to absorb egg and milk.
Stir to coat bread. Let sit for bread to absorb egg and milk. | Source

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 pan a few minutes.)
  9. Add cooked diced ham, or sausage rounds. Then add tomatoes.
  10. Layer with cheese.
  11. Beat remaining 5 eggs and pour over the top of the strata.
  12. Bake at 350º about 45 minutes.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Layer of swiss cheese slicesLayer of onionLayer of spinach
Layer of swiss cheese slices
Layer of swiss cheese slices | Source
Layer of onion
Layer of onion | Source
Layer of spinach
Layer of spinach | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sausage addedSun-dried tomatoes addedStrata topped with shredded cheese and additional beaten eggs
Sausage added
Sausage added | Source
Sun-dried tomatoes added
Sun-dried tomatoes added | Source
Strata topped with shredded cheese and additional beaten eggs
Strata topped with shredded cheese and additional beaten eggs | Source

A Few Notes on My Strata

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 1½ 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 | Source

Strata from the Chefs at Central Market

Questions & Answers

    © 2010 rmcrayne

    Comments

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    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 

      4 years ago from The High Seas

      This looks and sounds pretty darned good!

    • Sharonda Taylor profile image

      Sharonda Taylor 

      7 years ago from Maryland, US

      I've had this dish once or twice in my life, but never knew the name of it. I can't wait to cook it!

    • rmcrayne profile imageAUTHOR

      rmcrayne 

      8 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Kat07 strata is relatively new to me too. Just discovered it a year or two ago.

    • Kat07 profile image

      Kat07 

      8 years ago from Tampa

      You know, I don't know if I've ever even HAD strata?

    • rmcrayne profile imageAUTHOR

      rmcrayne 

      8 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Enjoy Heather. I discovered strata on the Today Show a year or so ago.

    • profile image

      Heather2401 

      8 years ago

      I had never heard of strata before but I will definitely give this a try!

    • rmcrayne profile imageAUTHOR

      rmcrayne 

      9 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Thanks for visiting Kristen.

    • KristenBrockmeyer profile image

      KristenBrockmeyer 

      9 years ago from Augusta, MI

      This looks great - a lot like the breakfast strata I make. Thanks for sharing this variation! :)

    • rmcrayne profile imageAUTHOR

      rmcrayne 

      9 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      4Food, I only heard of this a year or 2 ago on the Today Show.

    • 4FoodSafety profile image

      Kelly Kline Burnett 

      9 years ago from Fontana, WI

      I've made this but didn't know the name! Love, love this egg dish. Yum!

    • rmcrayne profile imageAUTHOR

      rmcrayne 

      9 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Thanks habee and Sandy!

      Let me know how it turns out LR.

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      9 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      The Strata looks great!

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 

      9 years ago from A Coast

      Great suggestion - more spinach and mushrooms sounds great, thanks!!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      9 years ago from Georgia

      Sounds awesome! I think I just gnawed through the puter screen. lol

    • rmcrayne profile imageAUTHOR

      rmcrayne 

      9 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Loren you could use most any meat or cheese I think. We have "sausage seasoning" from the butcher that made the pork sausage we grew up with. Sometimes we use the seasoning with ground beef. So I think you could use well seasoned ground lamb or beef. I think a good strong, pungent Turkish goat cheese would be good, or even feta.

    • rmcrayne profile imageAUTHOR

      rmcrayne 

      9 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Hey Paradise! I was just thinking of you the other day. Thanks for dropping by.

    • rmcrayne profile imageAUTHOR

      rmcrayne 

      9 years ago from San Antonio Texas

      Thanks LR for the heads up about Emeril. I switched him out for an "unknown".

      If I were doing it without cheese, I might increase the vegetables, like more mushrooms and spinach, or add something with big flavor like sundried tomatoes or kalamata olives.

    • Loren's Gem profile image

      Loren's Gem 

      9 years ago from Istanbul, Turkey

      This recipe sounds very appealing to me as I always love almost any casserole dish! And so much more with melted cheese on top! I should definitely try your strata (just added it to my vocabulary) recipe at home! However, is there anyway I can substitute ham... for salami, perhaps? And without Swiss cheese, I could easily find ka?ar peyniri here.

      Great recipe! Thanks for sharing this! :-)

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 

      9 years ago from Upstate New York

      Hey RM! Looks great, yet another recipe to bookmark, for sure!

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 

      9 years ago from A Coast

      BTW - the Emeril video is not working; when I click on play, it says "Embedding disabled by request"

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 

      9 years ago from A Coast

      Hi RM! I was just thinking about what I could make for dinner when the notification email of this hub popped up in my inbox. Unfortunately, I've been needing to go to the grocery store and have none of the ingredients to make this tonight, but it sounds great and I'm definitely going to get the ingredients to try it this week.

      I'm lactose intolerant, though - do you think it would be good with very minimal cheese - maybe just the parmesan?

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