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Over easy: Strata is a simple breakfast, brunch or dinner

By the Editors of Relish Magazine
Over easy: Strata is a simple breakfast, brunch or dinner
(Photo: Relish Magazine)

Strata is a beautiful thing. Similar to a quiche, frittata and savory bread pudding, a strata is made by tossing bread with veggies, cheese and ham into a dish, covering all with eggs and milk, and baking until browned and puffy. This breakfast favorite gets a jump-start with premade onion rolls found in the supermarket. Some stratas benefit from an overnight soak, but this one doesn’t require that. Toss it together in the the morning and bake it a few hours later for a perfect brunch dish. Serve with a bowl of fruit with a light yogurt sauce.

Three Cheese Strata with Ham

Serves 8

  • 14 ounces onion rolls, cubed (homemade or from the supermarket bakery)
  • 3 ounces country ham, cubed
  • 2 ounces shredded Swiss, Gruyere or Comte cheese
  • 2 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 ounces grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (optional)
  • 2 cups 2-percent (reduced-fat) milk

Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.

Place cubed rolls in pan. Top with ham and cheeses. Combine eggs, mustard if using and milk; whisk well. Pour over roll mixture. Bake 30 to 45 minutes, until set and puffed. Let cool 10 minutes.

Cheddar & Sausage Strata

Makes 6 to 8 servings

  • 14 slices firm, white sandwich bread, about 1 pound
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 large sausages (or 12 small), cooked and sliced; breakfast, Italian, or chorizo
  • 1 cup coarsely grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • Butter (use about 1 quarter of the stick of butter) a 2-quart baking dish.

Cut the bread into 1 ½ to 2-inch cubes and transfer to a large bowl.

Add the cooked sausages and grated Cheddar cheese and toss well. Transfer everything to the baking dish.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper (in the same bowl used to toss the bread cubes). Pour this mixture over the bread and press the bread down with a spatula so that it is soaked. Set aside, covered, in the refrigerator, for 2 to 8 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Melt the remaining butter and pour evenly over the top of the contents of the baking dish. Cover with foil, and transfer to the oven to bake for 45 minutes. Take off the foil and finish cooking for about 15 minutes or until the top is golden brown and puffs up slightly.

Chocolate-Cherry Strata

Makes 6 to 8 servings

  • 8 medium slightly stale croissants (or challah or brioche), cut into cubes
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1½ cups dried cherries, plumped in orange juice for 30 minutes
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 11⁄3 cup milk
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Butter a 2½ quart shallow baking dish. Arrange half the bread pieces in the baking dish in one layer. Sprinkle half the chopped chocolate and all the cherries in one layer. Top with the remaining bread cubes.

Whisk together eggs, sugar, milk, ½ cup cream, vanilla and salt in a bowl until well blended. Pour evenly over croissants, soaking them. Cut the butter into bits and dot it over the top of the pudding. Cover with plastic wrap; set in the refrigerator for 1 hour to 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Bake pudding on the middle shelf of oven until puffed and golden, about 40 minutes.

Set a small metal bowl or small saucepan set over a smaller saucepan of simmering water. Add the remaining chocolate and stir until nearly melted. Whisk in remaining cream and a pinch salt. Cover and keep warm until serving.