Recipes that span the day are some of my very favorites in life. Take biscuits, for example. They can be eaten at breakfast, snack time, lunch, tea, or dinner. Change the toppings, change the mood.
The same applies to strata. To what, you ask? To strata.
Or in layman’s terms, layered leftover bread casserole.
Strata is like French toast and bread pudding all rolled into one dish. Day-old bread gets a slick layer of butter, then some herbs, a little meat, some veg, more bread, don’t forget the cheese. Top it all off with an egg custard, bake, and you have strata.
If you love to dig into warm, cheesy casseroles, strata is right up your alley. If you love to take refrigerator leftovers and turn them into something magical, check out strata. And during the height of the zucchinipocalypse that is summer gardening, strata will be your best friend.
One leftover loaf of bread can knock out two zucchini, maybe even 3 if you get to them before they grow to radioactive Hulk size. Not only that, but even fussy eaters will chow down on strata; and the variations are endless. You may even end the summer wishing for more zucchini! Umm, OK, that may be stretching it a bit, but you’ll definitely make this over and over again this summer.
Let’s make Zucchini and Sausage Strata.
Butter a 9″ square baking dish at least 2″ deep. Place four slices of buttered bread in the pan.
Here I’ve used a French loaf I had in the freezer, sliced about 1/2″ thick. Your leftover sourdough bread would be excellent to use as well.
Generously sprinkle on 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite Italian seasoning, or try our Pizza Seasoning for a savory, spicy blend.
Set the pan aside while you prepare the zucchini and sausage.
In a medium-sized skillet, sauté one medium zucchini (about 2 cups’ worth of sliced zucchini) in 1/4 cup of water for 3 minutes. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic.
Continue to sauté until the water evaporates and the zucchini and garlic begin to brown. Take care to avoid burning the garlic.
Remove the veggies from the pan. Add 1 pound crumbled Italian sausage and cook until browned. Drain the fat and set the sausage aside.
Scatter the zucchini evenly over the bread slices. You can see I had about 1/3 cup of corn left over in the fridge, so I tossed that in, too. Better to use it up than waste it. Leftover tomato slices, summer squash, or red pepper would work out well, too.
If you prefer, you can rip the bread into chunks instead of slices. This makes a softer strata in the end. Skip the buttering if you’re tearing the bread.
On top of the zucchini layer, spread 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese and the cooked Italian sausage. I prefer sweet, my hubby likes the hot sausage, so I’ve used 2 links of each here.
Top with another four slices of buttered bread, and another 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning.
In a measuring cup, whisk together 2 large eggs and 2 cups of milk or half & half.
Pour half of this custard over the strata. Let the bread soak up some of the liquid, and pour on more custard. Repeat until all of the custard has been added to the pan.
Sprinkle on another 1/2 cup cheese, and dust with more seasoning, if desired.
Cover the strata with plastic wrap, using your hands to gently press the layers down.
See how much liquid the bread has absorbed already?
Place the well-wrapped pan in the fridge overnight, to continue this soaking process.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the pan from the fridge to warm slightly while the oven comes up to temperature.
Bake the strata for about 40 to 45 minutes, until the custard is set all the way through in the center. The cheese and sausage will get nice and brown – and crispy, too.
Hey, no snitches!
Serve the bready, eggy goodness hot with a side of hot sauce and a glass of cold iced tea.
The beauty of this strata is that 1) you can make it the day before, and 2) it can be the star of breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner. It’ll be ready when you’re ready.
Strata reheats beautifully in the microwave, and makes a wonderful brown-bag lunch for work. OR how about the next potluck you have to attend? Once you know the basics of making strata, you can layer on the goodness any time of day.
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