My husband laughs at me every time I call this a strata… he says it’s just marketing, this is just a casserole putting on airs. Ok, fair statement but don’t you feel better eating strata than a casserole? I mean, the name makes it special, company and slow cups of coffee worthy. Plenty of fancy pants dishes are gussied up homey food. It could be said that cassoulet is really just snooty beanie weenies.
This dish (whatever the name may be) is a reoccurring character in my breakfast story. I make most of our bread, and we can never eat it quite fast enough, it inevitably goes a little stale, and when it’s past the revive by toasting stage, it’s time to make a strata. I really don’t mind, it means a healthy breakfast for the rest of the week is done! After the first day I just stash slices in the fridge and reheat in the morning.
I make a lot of different flavors of strata, using whatever vegetables and bits of meat and cheese I have on hand and it changes based on the season. I’m calling this one Christmas Strata because it’s made with spinach and roasted red peppers (red and green)! It reminds me of enchiladas in Santa Fe with both red and green sauce… Christmas enchiladas!
It is in addition to the perfect Christmas colors a great make ahead breakfast for when you have company, like during the holidays. As the casserole chills in the fridge the custard soaks into that slightly stale and/or crusty bread and it gives the final product a creamy savory bread pudding like consistency. It doubles, triples, and cuts in half well. This is also a great thing to freeze, preferably already baked for the next get together or just a harried week when you need breakfast on the fly.
- 1 Tb olive oil
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 1 lb raw spinach stems removed if you are using large spinach
- 1 c roasted red peppers, diced
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 8 eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp herbs de provence (or thyme)
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 c milk
- 1 lb crusty whole grain bread chopped into ½ inch (or so) cubes
- 6 oz swiss cheese, shredded (true confession, I had a tiny bit of 4 kinds of cheeses left over so, I shredded them up and that’s what I used!)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 9×13 inch pan.
In a medium pan sauté the onion with olive oil until onions are translucent (5-7 minutes). Add spinach and saute long enough just to wilt the spinach (2 minutes) and remove from heat Mix salt, eggs, herbs de provence, pepper, and milk together until smooth in a bowl.
Layer bread cubes in prepared pan. Add onions, roasted peppers, and spinach to the pan with the bread. Pour egg mixture on top. Layer cheese on top of everything. (The casserole can be prepared up to this point the night before, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerator.) Bake 50 minutes until golden brown and puffy.