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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Eggs for Brunch, Potluck, a Family Supper

When eggs are on special (as they often are around Easter), buy a couple of extra dozen and put them in the refrigerator for use over the next several weeks. (If you are worried about keeping eggs so long, go to http://www.agr.state.il.us/programs/consumer/egg/eggconsguide.html for verification that eggs can be kept for an extended time if properly stored and cooked.)

The following recipe is easily halved, but the full amount makes a generous contribution to a potluck or feeds a houseful for brunch.

Vegetarian Strata

10 c cubed bread (see NOTE)
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 c diced red bell pepper--use fresh, frozen, or bottled
12 to 14 eggs
1/4 to 1/2 t cajun seasoning (OR freshly ground black pepper)
1 t mixed dried herbs (I used basil, rosemary, and thyme in equal parts)
2 t prepared yellow mustard
8 oz Colby, cheddar, or Monterrey jack cheese, divided
6 oz frozen chopped spinach

1. Oil an 11 X 13 baking dish. (If you choose to divide the recipe in half, use an 8 inch square or round container instead.)
2. Saute the onions in a small amount of canola oil until golden and translucent.
3. Beat the eggs with a fork or wisk until evenly mixed, as for scrambled eggs. Stir in the sauteed onions and all remaining ingredients except for about half the cheese.
3. Pour the egg mixture into the prepared pan. Top with the reserved cheese and cover tightly with foil.
4. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake strata, covered, for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 15 to 25 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serves 10 to 12.

NOTE:
For this recipe, which is really just a savory rather than sweet bread pudding, you can use all kinds of leftovers. Keep a container in your freezer for those ends of bread you don't otherwise use, the odd hot dog bun, the couple of rolls that didn't get used up last time you served them with dinner, even leftover garlic bread. If you don't have enough stored up ahead, any bread will work for this recipe, though the better the bread, the better the dish! For today's strata, I had a dozen clover leaf rolls available. I diced nine of them for the strata and will dry the rest for some seasoned bread crumbs.

You might also choose to save odds and ends of bread by drying them and then storing them in a tightly covered container. If you use dried bread for this recipe, you probably will want to add up to a cup of milk to the egg mixture.

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