Recently I had a dozen or more people here for breakfast after an overnight camping party. In the past I'd bought frozen quiches to serve, along with other breakfast fare, but I really can no longer stand serving processed food, especially to guests. I found lots of breakfast casserole recipes on the Internet and finally settled on this strata. Alas, I don't remember the source ...
Okay, so it puffed up more on one side than on the other, but I hadn't realized it would puff up at all, and it looked really lovely. It was a big hit, too.
A strata is convenient for feeding a large number of people as it's made the night before and left in the refrigerator until you bake it the next morning. It's layers of bread, veggies and meat, and eggs and milk or cream. I used a cup of cooked, drained spinach, but I didn't think it was enough. Next time I'll definitely use more veggies; I'll try broccoli and perhaps roasted red pepper along with the onion.
Even so, this dish drew raves from my guests.
20 ounces of crusty bread, such as French or Italian, cubed (leave the crust on)
8 strips of bacon, cooked and crumbled; or 1 cup or more cooked cubed ham
small to medium onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 cup (probably more!) veggies, solo or any combination of spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, etc.
3 T butter
3 1/2 C. half-and-half or whole milk
12 large eggs
1 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
3 T. stone ground prepared mustard
1/2 to 1 tsp. dried herb combination such as herbe de provence, bonnes herbes, or the like
2 cups shredded cheese, alone or combined, cheddar, Swiss, Gruyere, etc.
LIghtly oil a 9" x 13" baking dish and set aside.
Cook bacon, if using, until crisp; drain and crumble.
Satue the onion and garlic in butter until soft. Saute or steam any vegetables to desired doneness (you don't want them mushy; use a particularly light touch if using spinach).
Place half the cubed bread in the baking dish.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, half-and-half, salt, pepper, and dried herbs until foamy. Add the shredded cheese and stir to mix.
Layer half the veggies and meat over the bread. Pour half the egg mixture over the bread and veggies/meat. Repeat with another layer of bread, the rest of the toppings, and finally the rest of the egg mixture.
With clean hands, press down gently until all the bread is soaked. Place plastic wrap over the baking dish, press gently again, and refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
Next morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees; bake for 65-80 minutes, or until a sharp knife inserted comes out clean. Let cool for about 15 minutes before cutting into serving squares. It will still be very hot at this point.
This will make about 15 to 20 brunch-size servings. I served it with cheesy shredded potato casserole (brought by a generous and merciful friend), croissants, and fresh fruit, and I had a few leftover squares of the strata. The leftovers were good, too!