Sometimes, we’re looking for a simple dinner. Something filling that we can get on the table in about 30 minutes from start to finish. You, too? Well, then you should try making a strata. It’s a fast, one- skillet dinner, that’s quite tasty. As a bonus, you can customize this to your heart’s content.
We selected this for dinner, not only because it was fast, but because we had a couple of egg yolks left over from making fluffy buttercream frosting. Of course, we could have just whipped up a frittata, which is a close relative, but, then, we might have wanted to make up some toasted bread to eat alongside. With a strata (Italian for layer), you have the toast right in the dish. Perfect, huh?
Oh, we didn’t really get the recipe from anywhere, so we’ll just tell you what we used. Change it up and scratch up your own strata tonight.
Serves 2 to 4
Free-range eggs are the only way to go. You’re making an egg dish, and you want it to taste great! The vegetables listed here are really only suggestions; feel free to substitute what you have, and what you like. Use sweet potato instead of potato, add a bit of garlic, or maybe you have some cauliflower that would work. You’ll even note a couple of okra pods in the picture below. All is fair game for a strata. Similar story with the cheese: use something you like. (No, not Velveeta — that’s not cheese, it says so right on the box). We went with Colby-Jack. Finally, bread. We used several homemade rye rolls which worked perfectly, but any good bread will be fine.
Procedure in detail:
Mise en place. We chopped everything before hand, mainly for the photo. If you think about what vegetables will fry up the slowest — in our case, potatoes — you can get those frying while you’re chopping the remaining vegetables.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Fry vegetables. Place the skillet, with a tablespoon of oil, over medium heat and add vegetables, starting with the slowest- cooking to the fastest. The idea is to have all the vegetables done at the same time. In our case, we started the potatoes and carrots, let them fry for 5 to 8 minutes, then added onions and celery, let that fry another 5 minutes, then added the mushrooms and okra, and fried until everything was tender.
Season and transfer. Taste the vegetables, and hit them up with salt and pepper. Now transfer them all to a bowl so you can start layering your strata.
Layer bread. Add the remaining oil to the now-empty skillet, but still over medium heat, and swirl it around. Carefully, so you don’t get a burn, place the bread in a single layer on the bottom of the skillet. Let the bread fry for 2 to 3 minutes to crisp up the bottom just a bit.
Layer vegetables. Now, spread the fried vegetables over the bread in an even layer.
Add eggs. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and the milk, then pour it over the vegetables and bread. The vegetables should be almost covered. If not, your strata will still be good; just remember to fry fewer vegetables next time.
Add cheese and garnish. Sprinkle the cheese cubes on top, along with the shredded basil leaves.
Bake. Slide everything into the oven and bake for 25 to 25 minutes, or until the eggs are set and the cheese is melted and beginning to brown.
Serve immediately. While these can be served warm, we like them better when they’re hot. Also, leftovers reheat nicely.
While this is very similar to a quiche or a frittata, we like to make stratas from time to time just to change things a bit. They take almost no time to whip up, but make for a satisfying meal, pretty much any time of the day. The best part is that you can make up a strata anytime you have bread, eggs, and a few veggies on hand, so we use it as a way to clear out the refrigerator right before we leave on a vacation. Since strata is so simple to make, yet so tasty, it gets five stars in the “worth it?” category.